From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Tornado Killed ELCA Member in Southern Minnesota

From Brenda Williams <>
Date 01 Apr 1998 19:20:56


April 1, 1998


     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- An 85-year-old member of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America died March 31 from injuries sustained in the March 29
tornado in southern Minnesota.  Tornadoes also damaged a college of the
ELCA, Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.
     "Louis Mosenden, a member of Lake Hanska Lutheran Church, was thrown
200 feet from his rural home in Hanska," said the Rev. Lawrence R.
Wohlrabe, a synod minister for the ELCA's Southwestern Minnesota Synod.
"Mosenden was taken to a hospital in Mankato and died in the afternoon,"
according to the Rev. Robert F. Vedell.
     "Two thousand windows were blown out on the campus buildings of
Gustavus Adolphus College, and about 90 percent of its trees on campus are
gone.  Damage estimates are increasing," said the Rev. W. Robert Sorensen,
executive director for the ELCA's Division for Higher Education and
     According to Sorensen, "The risk management folks have been working
with Gustavus Adolphus College since the night of the storm."
     "This is one of the great liberal art colleges of the ELCA and also
of the nation.  It will come back from this and emerge even stronger.  We
are waiting for the college to identify areas of greatest need, and we will
be responding to those needs.  The other ELCA colleges are ready to respond
as well," Sorensen said.
     "The town of Comfrey is still without utilities," reported Wohlrabe.
"City residents are, at this point, restricted to coming into town between
8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.  I mention this to encourage others to stay away
from Comfrey until the community is opened up again or unless you are with
an official group of volunteers with permission to enter town," he said.
     "In Comfrey, Faith Lutheran Church has lost a significant portion of
its roof and Salem Lutheran Church has also suffered major damage," said
     "All the downtown businesses have been destroyed or heavily damaged.
There are ironies as one walks around town.  Newer buildings like the
city's fire department and the grain elevator are destroyed.  Nearby, older
structures like the city's newspaper office and the city's water tower
stand unscathed.  Everywhere there is debris ... twisted tree limbs and
downed power lines," said Wohlrabe.
     "About a dozen families from Lake Hanska Lutheran Church have had
farms and homes damaged or destroyed in the tornado," reported Wohlrabe.
"Albion Lutheran Church, about 12 miles north of St. James, Minn., also has
about 12 families with damaged or destroyed farms," he said.  Our Savior's
Lutheran Church and Christ the King Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minn.,
report no damage.
     Relief efforts are being coordinated by Lutheran Social Services of
Minnesota and Lutheran Disaster Response, a ministry of the ELCA and The
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.  "An initial grant of $10,000 has been sent
for immediate financial assistance," said the Rev. Gilbert B. Furst,
associate director for Lutheran Disaster Response.
     "To help set up the local relief operation, Lutheran Disaster
Response is bringing in two members from a newly-formed disaster response
team.  They will live on site for several weeks to help get the local
response coordinated and focused," said Furst.  "Counselors from Lutheran
Social Services of Minnesota are also being deployed to the area," he said.

For information contact:
Ann Hafften, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG

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