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are interned under the tree in a biode- gradable urn. Respecting the forest’s natural state, there are no headstones, flowers or candles. “The circle of life from birth to death ends in the midst of mother earth,” said Thomas Strege, a Lutheran pastor.

Making news again The St. Paul, Minn., congregation that in 1990 made history by call- ing a woman to be its senior pastor made news again on March 25 by calling Bradley Schmeling. Luther- ans Concerned/North America said Gloria Dei is now the largest Lutheran church (2,300 members) with a senior pastor who is openly gay and in a committed same-gender relationship. Schmeling, pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Atlanta until May 6, was removed from the ELCA clergy roster in 2007 follow- ing an ecclesiastical trial held after he informed his bishop that he was in a same-sex relationship. He was restored to the roster after the 2009 Churchwide Assembly’s decision allowing pastors in committed same- gender relationships.

Free May 12 ecology event Lutherans worldwide are invited to participate in a free May 12 online conference on ecological justice. Under the theme “green&just,” the Lutheran World Federation is offer- ing speakers, Bible studies and 16 webinars (Internet-based seminars). The conference coincides with the LWF Youth desk’s 2012 campaign, “LWF together–the Earth needs you.” Learn more or register at wordpress/greenandjust.

Jews most migratory group Ever since their dash out of Egypt bound for the Promised Land, Jews have been on the move. And they continue to be, far more than any


Spring break Christian Hall, a student at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn., spent his spring

break volunteering with Lutheran Disaster Response in Clay, Ala. More than 100 St. Olaf students helped with continuing cleanup after a Jan. 23 tornado.

May 2012 9

other religious group: 1 in 4 of the world’s Jews has migrated, com- pared to 5 percent of Christians and 4 percent of Muslims who have left their native lands. The findings are part of a study on religion and global migration by the Pew Forum on Reli- gion & Public Life, which tracked the journeys of the world’s 214 mil- lion migrants.

Church pioneer Platz retires

Forty-two years after her ordina- tion, Elizabeth Platz will retire May 31 as pastor of Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Mary- land, College Park. Platz, the first woman ordained as a Lutheran pastor in North America, served her entire call at the university. Ray Ranker, associate chaplain, will succeed Platz, effective June 1. Celebrating Platz’s contributions, campus min- istry leaders will hold a May 6 wor- ship service, a May 23 open house, and direct offerings to the Elizabeth

In the minds of millions of Ameri- cans, family planning of any kind equals abortion. Facts tell a different story: It is the lack of family plan- ning that often leads to abortion.

Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, writing in a commentary in The Daily Climate titled “Fam- ily planning is both godly and green.”

Platz Endowment Fund to help grow the ministry.

Atheists gaining on Christians

Christianity is waning in England. The British Parliament study showed there were 41 million Christians in Britain, down nearly 8 percent since 2004. Nonbelievers stood at 13.4 million, up 49 percent over the same period. Researchers concluded that Christianity had declined to 69 per- cent of the population while those with no religion increased to 22 per- cent. “If these populations continue to shrink and grow by the same num- ber of people each year,” the study

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