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News and events at Grace


Faith Perspectives forum at Grace Lutheran focuses on caring for survivors of sexual trauma

FP_graphic_March_2015.jpgThirty years ago Ruth Schmidt was walking home from her after-school job when she was grabbed from behind, forced into the woods, and raped at knife-point by a violent stranger.

The experience changed her life forever. Many victims of rape choose to keep their story private, but Ruth has not kept silent. Demonstrating remarkable courage, she has become an articulate spokesperson for victims of sexual violence and rape culture.

In Grace Lutheran Church’s Faith Perspectives program on Violence Against Women and Girls, Sunday, March 15 at 2 p.m., Ruth will talk about all that was taken from her that afternoon—her sense of safety, her ability to trust others, and much more. She will also describe what was helpful to her in the days, months and years after her rape—and what was not.

The March program is focused on how people of faith care for survivors and others affected by gender-based violence. Ruth’s mother, River Forest resident Gick Schmidt, will describe how the rape affected other members of their family and how powerless they felt to help her. Other speakers include Alissa Catiis of Womencare Counseling Center in Evanston, and Hillary Wildt from Cornerstone Counseling of Chicago, both of whom work with trauma survivors.

Mary Streufert, Director of Justice for Women for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, will address the social context of violence against women, an important part of caring for victims. Streufert has been closely involved in the preparation of the ELCA’s recent Draft Social Message on Gender-Based Violence.

Hearing one woman’s very specific story offers a unique starting point for discussion. The afternoon’s schedule includes time for questions and answers with the panel of speakers, as well as opportunities for small-group discussions. The hope is that participants will leave the forum knowing more about healing the hurt caused by sexual assault, rape and domestic violence, as well as the need to address social conditions that perpetuate sexual violence.

The program is free and open to the public.



Annual Leadership Workshop this Saturday looks at "Faith and Giving"

The annual Leadership Workshop on Saturday morning, Feb. 28, will feature a special guest speaker, Aimée Laramore of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving, part of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

LeadershipWkshpRegBox.jpgThe School of Philanthropy sponsors extensive research, collecting and analyzing data on trends in giving and effective ways to encourage giving. The Lake Institute for Faith and Giving specifically explores how religious faith inspires and informs giving.

The Lake Institute’s “tool kit” for congregations emphasizes that “fundraising is not about money.” It is about relationships and a congregation’s vision for ministry. It encompasses social networks, friendships, the volunteering of time and talent, and responsible, transparent leadership.

As such, giving is not just an issue for the Stewardship Committee or the Finance Committee. These are important topics for all of us to consider in this time of transition and change here at Grace Church.

At the Leadership Workshop on Faith and Giving we will:

• Learn about the giving landscape in the 21st century.

• Discuss the roots of generosity.

• Exchange ideas about relationships, community and engagement in our congregation.

• Clarify our mission and purpose.

• Think about fundraising as ministry.

Board and Committee members will learn:

• How to generate engagement and motivation in your area of ministry. 

• How to recruit and support volunteers.

• How to say thank-you!

• How to nurture generosity in our congregation.

Ms. Laramore brings over 17 years of executive non-profit leadership to her work in the field of faith and philanthropy. She will present information, tools and concepts that faith communities can use to build support for their mission and ministry. There will be time for small-group discussion and brainstorming as we apply the generosity tool kit to community-building and outreach efforts here at Grace Church.

In October, 2014, several Grace congregation members, along with Grace staff members, attended a day-long session with another speaker from the Lake Institute, Pastor William G. Enright, on “Creating Congregational Cultures of Generosity.” The program was sponsored by Wheat Ridge Ministries.

“We considered ways to engage our membership in ministry that could unite us.,” says Sue Foran, co-chair of the Volunteers Committee, about the workshop. “We were challenged to shift the perspective to not being about money but what a church wants to do with their money that matters; options for ministry that can open the doors for generosity.”