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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 27, 1995, New Braunfels, Texas 6A ■ Herald-Zeitung ■ Friday, Jan. 27, 1995 Church Life ■ To talk with Managing Editor Mark Lyon about Church Life, call 625-9144! ext. 21. Herald Z e i t u n g Church Life •’".A 3 Michael McManus Knowing how and where to fill the needs “Programs like AFDC, combined with food stamps and housing assistance, although meant for good, have broken up more families than slavery ever did. As a result of these broken families, children are being raised without fathers in the home. This single feet contributes more than anything to the chaotic atmosphere in our inner cities,” writes Rev. John Perkins, a pioneer of black self-help programs, in “Policy Review,” of the Heritage Foundation. But how can welfare reform produce stable, two-parent families—especially among millions who are second or third generation welfare recipients, who don’t know how to get or keep a job? Perkins notes that people motivated by their religious convictions are much more effective in administering chanty' than impersonal government agencies. Why? “Because they are much more likely to do what is in the best interest of the person asking for help, even if it involves ‘ ’tough love.An urban and. rural example: Mississippi Gov. Kirk Fordice invited the state’s churches to each take responsibility for getting one family off of welfare in a program called “Faith and Families.” To Elder Jim Reed, pastor of the Community Temple Church of God in Jackson, the idea “hit me like a ton of bncks,” he told a reporter of the “Clarion-Ledger.” “Faith without works is dead. lf you see a brother in need or destitute and don’t help them, what good is faith?” He knew of a family of 12 living in a two-room sharecropper’s shack, and told his 75-member church about them. They agreed to adopt the family if it was willing to move to Jackson. Christine Jones, 47, quickly accepted the offer. “We were living with my boyfriend who would drink and become abusive. I was tired of living in sin and I wanted something better for me and my children.” Her house had “plenty of holes where rats and snakes could come in.” Now they live in a four-bedroom home with furniture donated by church members. She, a sister and her mother are all enrolling in a GED program to get high school diplomas. The governor has hundreds of inquiries. Churches get “blind profiles” of families to protect their privacy while allowing the church to select the family it will assist. (Call 601-982-6779.) Mary Nelson is a white woman whose brother is pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church on the West Side of Chicago, where 35,000 whites lived in 1960—but which is now all black, 42 percent of whom are in poverty. Yet she sees assets where others see only gnm problems. “One of our assets is garbage,” she says. “We have a lot of garbage and we now have 125 jobs in the recycling business! And in providing home care to 750 elderly every day, 350 people are employed in jobs that have career ladders. Home care is a job development strategy ” By keeping the elderly out of nursing homes which cost $1,599 in Medicaid funds each month, the state pays only $314 per month for home care, saving Illinois taxpayers $4.7 million a year. Equidly important, Bethel New Life has moved 350 people off of welfare into satisfying jobs. Shirley King, 38, whose husband ran off after “a younger skirt,” was on welfare for a decade, feeling “deprived of everything. You can’t afford movies or the luxury of getting your hair fixed.” Bethel trained her to be a certified nurse’s assistant in a three-month course where she learned how to care for Alzheimer’s patients— take blood pressure, pulse, be the eyes and ears of a nurse in reading symptoms, bathing and helping patients. Mrs. King’s income jumped from about $400 a month to $ 1,000 and what she relished is “You don’t have to account to anyone for your money. You don’t have to bring your light bill and telephone bill to a case worker, feeling invaded. That’s totally embarrassing.” Mary Nelson says Bethel New Life could take over management of 25 percent of the welfare cases in her area over 18 months! “We can use a community-based approach rather than bureaucracy. People need a support system. Often the first job doesn’t fit. We can guarantee results, if we had a performance contract, getting paid only for actual job placement.” Is anyone in Washington listening? (Michael McManus is a syndicated columnist) Sister Margaret Dennis Gallaher I met an angel the other day. She was 50’ish, short, a nun, and had a delightfully inviting Irish accent that drew me to her like a bird to running water. We were having lunch and her table was close enough for me to overhear the melody of her voice that pitched and peaked with the laugh of one who knew what life was really about. She was eavesdropping, too. And since the occasion lent itself to casual introductions she soon scraped her chair across the hardwood floor to have a little chat. That was the first clue that she was an angel. Who in this world would join their voice to a bunch of pastors over dinner unless they were an angel? “I’m Sister Margaret and I’m fresh out of prison,” she coyly explained. “I’ve been hitting the bars in Bexar County for 20 years now and I’ve come here for a bit of a jailbreak!” Well, this runaway nun certainly had our attention. Of course, that was also my second clue that she was an angel. The confession, though sincerely honest, couldn’t hide the twinkle in her eye and the giggle in her voice. This lady was an unusual find. It turns out that our friend really was fresh from the jailhouse. She is a prison chaplain in the Bexar County Jail and has been “hitting the bars,” prison bars that is, for the past 20 years. This little dynamo from heaven has spent her life with “the least of these" offering comfort, counsel, and tough love to countless numbers of street-wise criminals. There are times in my life that I recognize that I am in the midst of greater grace. This was one of those times. Here was a soldier of the Cross who had given her life in the pursuit of souls at the bottom of the barrel. She told us of the days when the jail wouldn’t let her in and her struggles to gain unlimited access to the violent criminals in solitary confinement. She described to us the deplorable filth and abuse that has changed dramatically over the years, much of which is because of a little nun with a mission from God and an Irish twinkle in her eye. But one story stood out. Let me tell it to you. Sister Margaret had not been at the jail very long. The conditions in the county lock-up were deplorable even for a prison. Filth and disease were the order of the day. Roaches and rodents roamed freely in the dank overcrowded hole. The day was not unlike the others where she was greeted first with the stench of rotting sewage and then the sight of rotting souls. She entered the room where the prison guards congregated. Mind you, she was a threat to their system and they disdained her even more than the criminals. But remember, she’s really an angel and angels don’t mind what others think about them. Over in the comer, a prisoner lay balled up, semi-conscious, and in great agony. The smell of his vomit permeated the room but was of no account to the guards who were oblivious to the man. Sister Margaret was appalled. She cradled the man’s head knowing that he was a heroin addict in the hell of withdrawal. Certainly of no concern to anyone, except an angel, of course. But she didn’t earn her wings without guts. Turning to the guards, she spoke with the command of a master sergeant. “You! Yes, you! Fetch a little water and bring it here this instant. And that means now!” Obviously, one of the guards had spent some time in the care of nuns. Former altar boys never cross a nun. I should know. So here is the scene. A heroin-addicted prisoner and a nun are on the floor in the comer of the Bexar County Jail. She orders a jailer to assist in the compassionate care she is giving the man. The guard, reluctantly, responds with a tin cup of water and holds it at arm’s length. But remember. This is an angel we are talking about. Before the guard knew what happened, Sister Margaret has placed the prisoner in his lap and taken his hand to cradle the man’s filthy head. Now she places the cool cup of water in his other hand and guides it to the prisoner's lips. The guard is caught between his disdain for the man and the compassion of the little nun who pressed him into service. And then his life is changed as she lovingly crushes his stone of a heart with the words of her Master. “Sir,” she says, “Don’t you realize that if you give a cup of cold water to the least of God’s creatures, you are giving it to Jesus?” The room where we sat seemed consecrated. None of us knew what it meant to care for the “least of these” like Sister Margaret of the Bexar County Jail. She had us dead in her sights. Her broken heart shone through eyes that now moistened with the tears of compassion. “Dear Pastors,” her words resonated from deep in her soul, “Please remember to pray for those in prison. Please pray for the prisoners.” "Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated... ” - Hebrews 13:3 "I was in prison and you came to Me... ” words of Jesus in Matthew 25:37 I've read those words hundreds of times and managed to avoid the commands and blessings each time. But no more. Through the vessel of a wee Irish nun, the words of Scripture came alive and penetrated my very soul. So pray for the prisoners with me, won’t you? And also for Sister Margaret, the angel of the Bexar County Jail. (Dennis Gallaher is pastor of Freedom Fellowship Church in New Braunfels.) ELC executive director to be featured speaker at 15th Annual Krost Symposium From staff reports SEGUIN—The Rev. Dr. W. Robert Sorensen, executive director of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Division for Higher Education and Schools, will be a speaker at Texas Lutheran College’s 15th annual Krost Symposium, entitled “Educanon: A Culture in Search of a Renewed Vision.” The symposium will be held Feb. 6-7 in the college’s Jackson Auditonum. Sorensen will speak during the fourth session of the symposium. His address will be followed by a response from Dr. Nancy Bums, professor of education, department chairperson, and holder of the Jo Murphy Chair in Education at Texas Lutheran; Amy Citzler, a junior English major at the college, from Pflugerville; the Rev. Dr. Arthur Preisinger, director of Lutheran Institute for Religious Studies and assistant professor of theology and history at Texas Lutheran; and Dr. Donald D. Schmeltekopf, provost and vice-president for academic affairs at Baylor University. Other symposium presenters include Dr. Edwin J. Delattre, professor of education and dean of the School of Education at Boston University; Diana Lam, superintendent of the San Antonio Independent School District; Dr. Lionel “Skip” Meno, commissioner of education for the State of Texas; and Dr. Carol J. Guardo, president of the Great Lakes Colleges Association, a consortium of 12 selective private liberal arts colleges located in the Upper Midwest. The 1995 Krost Symposium hopes to explore an anay of issues related to education in America today and in the future, said Dr. Leonard G. Schulze, vice-president for academic affairs and academic dean at Texas Lutheran, and a member of the 1995 Krost Symposium Committee. Sorensen leads the division responsible for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Amenca’s educational mission in its 29 colleges and universities, 216 campus mimstnes, 142 elementary and secondary schools, and 1,400 early childhood education centers. He is a graduate of Concordia College (Moorhead, MN), Luther Seminary, and the University of Iowa’s School of Religion. He has served as pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Tabor, MN; St. James Lutheran Church, Burnsville, MN; and St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport, IA, and has served on the staff and faculty of Augu'tana College (Rock Island, IL) and the University of North Dakota. Texas Lutheran’s Krost Symposium brings scholars, government and church officials, journalists, and others to the campus to discuss issues of relevance and importance to the community at large. It is one component of the college’s Krost Life Enrichment Program, which is designed to promote the spiritual, physical, social, and intellectual development of Texas Lutheran’s students, faculty and staff. The symposium begins at 1:00 p.m. on Feb. 6 and will conclude at noon the following day. Registration is $40 ($50 after Jan. 23). Fulltime college and high school students and senior R«v. Dr. W. Robert Sorensen citizens (65 and over) receive a 50 percent discount. Persons attending the entire symposium are eligible to receive 0.8 Continuing Education Units. For additional information or to register for the symposium, call (210)372-8020. Briefs First Protestant to host recording star Clay Crosse Friday, Feb. 17 Nashville's hottest top recording star, Clay Crosse, will appear in concert Friday night, Feb. 17, at First Protestant Church. Clay had two #1 hits in 1994 and two songs in the top five hits for 1994. His 1994 tours included performances with Twila Paris, Kathy Troccoli, and The Young Messiah (Word Records showcase of top recording stars). His tape “My Place Is With You” can be purchased at The Shepherd’s Shop. He is scheduled to appear this month on the Conan O’Brien Late Night Show. Tickets are $10.00 and are now available for purchase at First Protestant Church or from a ticket representative. Call Marty Lindley at 609-7729. St. John’s begins supper club for adults 35 and under St. John’s proudly announces the first gathering of our Supper Club for Adults Age 35 and Under. Anyone who meets the age requirement, whether married or single, and who is interested in food, fun, and fellowship is cordially invited to St. John’s Parish Hall on Saturday, Feb 4 beginning at 6:00 p.m. Dress casually and comfortably and bring a dish of food to share A baby-sitting co-op will be provided, but please feed your kids before you come Join us to feast and frolic. Vollertsen welcomed to FFC team The new Minister of Christian Education and Youth, the Reverend Pat Vollertsen, has arrived in New Braunfels, and is excited about being a part of the First Protestant Church ministerial team...and the team is excited to have her on board. Pat and Amanda (her 19-year old daughter) amved in New Braunfels from the St. Louis, Missouri area, on Jan. 15. She has two other adult children, daughter Adrianne Gilbert (married to Staff Sgt. David Gilbert) and son John, of Boulder, Colorado. Pat is a very young grandmother to Adrianne and David’s children, Cassie and Justin. Pat’s educational background is mainly in health care. Before enrolling in seminary in 1991, Pat worked for many years as a Physician's Associate, medical technician, or practical nurse. Her work history in health care involved geriatrics, obstctncs, hospice care, and pre-school health care. Additionally, she has served as community librarian, medical office personnel, program director, site manager and various positions at a church camping facility. After graduating from Eden Theological Seminary in Dec. of 1994, Pat was ordained Jan. 8 at Zion Church in Union, Missoun. Her involvement in the church has been on the local, regional, and national levels. Many of her endeavors have focused on youth, as they relate to the church, and Christian education. She is an advocate of the Outdoor Education Ministries, serves on the National Youth Event Planning Committee, and has served as songleader and keynote speaker in six conferences. During her seminary years, Pat was Director of Youth Mimstnes at St. Lucas Church in St. Louis County, Missouri. Reverend Vollertsen summa-nzes her vision for ministry as follows: “To empower and lead and learn together, as we serve each other and the world, inviting everyone to share in the good news of Jesus Christ.” Her method for ministry is "to invite, involve, and invest in the common life we share in the Lord." First Protestant Church and the New Braunfels community welcomes Reverend Vollertsen. ;