by Patti Austin
For 10 years, Lutheran Services of Georgia in Atlanta has held a Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and invited churches to participate in many activities.
In the past, we’ve packed rice in gallon zip lock bags for refugees settled here. And we’ve conducted letter-writing campaigns to senators and other elected officials about human trafficking.
This year on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 21, the MLK Day was held at Christ the King Lutheran in Peachtree Corners. Participants completed a variety of service projects, like welcome bags for the homeless, English learning kits and job interview kits for refugees.
We all know God loves us and grace is free; but how do we embrace grace and use that grace to not only benefit us, but also our neighbors.
Lutheran Services of Georgia (now Inspiritus) invited congregations and organizations to host a service table at the event. The Southeastern Synod Women of the ELCA sponsored a service table where we made Lily bags for abused women who go to women’s shelters.
I read about Lily bags or Blessing bags from other Women of the ELCA synodical women’s organizations that gave bags to hospitals. They are used for women who have been raped and needed to leave behind their clothing as evidence.
Our bags contained toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, and combs, brushes, and other personal items. Thanks to a service project grant from Thrivent, we were able to make up 50 Lily bags.
At our service table, we also supplied materials for people to write letters of encouragement and hope for these dear women who have shown strength and most of all boldness for themselves and their children.
Our synodical convention theme later this year is “Embrace Grace.” We all know God loves us and grace is free; but how do we embrace grace and use that grace to not only benefit us, but also our neighbors.
How will you embrace grace this year?
Patti Austin is past president of Women of ELCA’s executive board. She currently serves as president of the Southeastern Synod Women of the ELCA and attends St. John’s Lutheran Church in Atlanta.