My last three weekends have been spent at ELCA Synod Assemblies. It has been my pleasure to offer plenary presentations and workshops on a number of different topics for the Southeastern Synod meeting in Chattanooga, TN, the Northeastern Iowa Synod meeting in Decorah, IA, and the Grand Canyon Synod meeting in Mesa, AZ.
Former ELCA Secretary the Rev. Lowell Almen was also a speaker at the last two. It has been fun to catch up with he and his delightful wife, Sally, since I hadn’t seen them for awhile. Lowell’s stories of the history of the first 25 years of the ELCA and funny anecdotes have been inspirational and entertaining.
On Friday night, I was so touched by Lowell’s passionate speech during the 25th anniversary celebration dinner at the Grand Canyon Synod where he spoke at some length about the importance of our recently published resource, Prayer Book for the Armed Services. Here is a photo I snapped during his eloquent speech.
I wished that I had been wise enough to video his remarks. But, I was too focused on listening to think that fast! But, a few weeks ago, Lowell was kind enough to share these words with me via email. While not as detailed as last night’s remarks, they will give you a sense of his enthusiasm for this fine resource.
“I did research in the Archives and discovered copies of Lutheran prayer books for soldiers and sailors that had been issued by Lutheran churches during World War I and basically reprinted in preparation for World War II. I found some prayers in them to be carried forward and also ideas for others that I thought might be helpful for the new edition. Paul Schreck spent many hours, days, and weeks in actually putting together the content for the new book.
I hope that pastors of congregations will be encouraged to have their congregations purchase copies for those already serving in the military and then also be prepared to give a copy to any member who enlists or is commissioned for service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, or similar service.
And, in a second email, he noted “I was so grateful when the Prayer Book for the Armed Services was published and saw that the prayers for the Army and Navy, which I adapted from the World War I and II prayer books, were included, along with various prayers that I had identified from various saints throughout history as well as the litany.
I also was deeply moved by the prayers for change of command, dignified transfer, and other prayers that were offered by practicing, active duty chaplains.
The volume should be on every pastor’s desk and in every chaplain’s hands.” (emphasis mine)
Since the Prayer Book for the Armed Services is priced at only $8.00 per copy, this gift for those serving in the armed forces is an affordable token of appreciation and support by congregations for their members.
When Lowell spoke on Friday evening, he added that many pastors serving in ELCA congregations will find this resource helpful for their own use with their prayers as members of their congregations are commissioned into the armed services, are deployed to active duty overseas, return from deployments and in many other circumstances.
Thank you for your encouragement and work to assist in bringing the Prayer Book for the Armed Services to the Church, Lowell!
Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress