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RMS in the Neighborhood
New L.I.F.E in Albuquerque
The L.I.F.E. Program stands for, “Liberty in Financial Education” and it will begin this month through a partnership between St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church Albuquerque, the Rio Grande Credit Union, and Zia Elementary School. Our work with Ruth Hoffman and Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-NM called us to stand up against the devastating impact of predatory lending in New Mexico. St. Timothy’s is located in an area inundated by these lenders. L.I.F.E. is St. Timothy’s response.
Qualifying families from Zia will be given an application to the L.I.F.E Program, which includes 10 weeks of financial education followed by 24 months of financial incentives that allow families to put to work what they have learned in the 10-week program. Below are the basics:
- Participants will attend at least 9 out of 10 one-hour sessions of financial education offered by a certified Financial Educator .
- Upon completion of at least 9 of the 10 sessions, St. Tim’s will assist families in opening a savings account at Rio Grande Credit Union with a $100 beginning balance.
- This small grant of $100 will be provided by the St. Timothy’s Mission Endowment Fund and is intended to give families a small head start in building financial capacity.
- Over the next 18 months, St. Timothy’s commits to matching the deposits families make to their savings accounts up to $10 per month.
- At the end of the program, if families take full advantage of the matching grant money offered by St. Timothy’s, they will have a savings account with a balance of $480 plus interest.
With their partners at Rio Grande Credit Union, Zia Elementary, and Lutheran Advocacy Ministry, St. Timothy’s is indeed, Christ's Church, Better Together!
Congregations becoming Safe Stops in the neighborhood
It was about 1 o’clock in the morning, and we had just finished up a call for service. I was doing a ride-a-long with a police officer. The call load had died down, and it was now time to get caught up on the paperwork from the busy shift. I joked with my officer that he didn’t need me as a chaplain in his car, what he needed was a secretary. The calls we were on that night required quite a bit of documentation. We pulled into a dimly lit church parking lot, and the officer began writing at his desk – a clipboard and steering wheel. As I sat next to him thinking about what it looks like for me as a chaplain to support this officer, I wandered why we were sitting in the parking lot of this church instead of going in. The Safe Stop program began to take shape.
Safe Stops are essentially a substation for officers located in a church. The Safe Stop is a non-contact office that is away from the public’s eye. The Safe Stop is a place that officers can grab a cup of coffee, cold drink, snack, and write a report if needed. Officers have to continually be vigilant of their surroundings, and the Safe Stop is often the only place of peace and rest in an officer’s busy day.
This idea was born from recognizing a need, and meeting that need. Our vision as chaplains is to “serve those who serve us”. I think this applies to us as the church as well. The Safe Stop program is currently in two Rocky Mountain Synod churches and growing. I believe the program has been successful because we as the church came along side our law enforcement community and accompanied them in their journey. Augustine challenged us with “it is solved by walking”. Accompaniment gives life when we justly walk the journey with others.
Scott Moore serves as the Lead Chaplain at the Wheat Ridge Police Department and serves as the Director of Mission, Youth and Family Ministries at a RMS congregation. He has served his congregation for 19 years and the police department for 2 years.
The Long History of Lutheran Advocacy
Peter Severson, Director of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-CO
In my role I visit a lot of congregations to tell the story of our faith-based advocacy work in the Rocky Mountain Synod. Usually, I begin that story in 1984, when the congregations of one of our predecessor denominations decided to organize formal Lutheran public policy offices for Colorado and New Mexico in response to threatened federal cuts to our social safety net. Thanks to all of our congregations, we have been engaged in full-time advocacy for over 30 years. But even that doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, did you know that the Rocky Mountain Synod has been advocating on public policy issues for over 125 years?
Consider this excerpt from the minutes of the First Annual Convention of the Rocky Mountain Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, held at St. Paul’s English Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denver, Colorado, October 28th-November 1st, 1891:
“The following resolutions of the General Synod were presented and adopted as a whole:
WHEREAS, The continued existence and the permanent prosperity of a nation cannot outlive the virtues of its people; and…
Whereas, There is a growing tendency to divest the Sabbath of its Divine authority…
Resolved, That whilst we deplore all forms of the violation of the Sabbath…we do express our most unqualified condemnation of that part of either State or municipal legislation that permits the prosecution of a traffic [in strong drink] on that day which is not alone useless and wicked, but which is a disgrace to the civilization and the Christianity of the nineteenth century…”
Wow! Strong words about strong drink. While our attitudes about temperance today have shifted somewhat, it’s nonetheless powerful to see that the church felt it necessary to speak on what was an important topic of public conversation in its time. This is no less true today: we as a church are always engaged in faithful reflection about public issues and speaking out in places where our voice can make a difference. Our advocacy is grounded in the gospel, the theological understandings of our church, and in our unwavering commitment to the wellbeing of the most marginal and vulnerable people in our communities.