From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Lutheran "New Life Center" Serves Fujianese in New York

From News News <NEWS@ELCA.ORG>
Date Tue, 25 Feb 2003 11:47:06 -0600


February 25, 2003


     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The sounds of children echoed in the halls of
True Light Lutheran Church, New York, N.Y., as the Rev. Gilbert B.
Furst, director of Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) met with staff of
the "New Life Center" earlier this year.  The Center, located at the
church, strives to serve the needs of the Fujianese community impacted
by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York.
     Located in the Chinatown section of Manhattan, New Life Center was
created to assist the Fujianese -- an ethnic group from the Fujian
Province of China who speak Fujianese.	Many lost their livelihood and
could not qualify for emergency assistance because they live beyond the
strict geographical guidelines of many disaster-response agencies.
     According to Chris Connell, director of Lutheran Social Services-
Metropolitan New York (LSS-MNY) Disaster Relief, the Fujianese "are some
of the most underserved people, especially in regard to Sept. 11
assistance."  Compounding the problem, language assistance is only
available in Cantonese and Chinese, leaving the Fujianese population
without adequate translation and disaster support services, he said.
     "They really have no place to turn for help in understanding and
navigating the public assistance system," said Connell.  With the
development of New Life Center this past December, "we projected working
with 100 families in the first year," he said.
     Connell and Henry Ye, director of the Asia Minor Program, LSS-MNY,
created the program.  LDR, a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America (ELCA) and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS),
provides funds to support the program.	The center was established by
LSS-MNY and LDR-New York.
     "Lutheran Disaster Response has impacted a lot of family lives,"
Ye said.  "People are getting help.  LDR has eased some of the pain of
this community."
     Services offered at New Life Center include an after-school
program for Fujianese children, counseling services for individuals and
families, pro-bono attorney consultations, emergency assistance, health
education and English as a second language courses.
     "We need only a little flour to make a lot of bread for the
people," Ye said.   True Light Lutheran Church, a congregation of the
LCMS, is home for many Chinese Lutherans.  Wendy Wang serves as director
for the New Life Center, which is staffed with care managers who speak
Fujianese.  Wang is Fujianese.
     "Since Dec. 12 we have already worked with 85 families," Wang
said.  "We see ourselves as a bridge to serve an underserved community.
People trust a church-based agency," she said.

     LDR has granted $6.91 million for Sept. 11 disaster response in
New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C.  Some of the larger 2002
expenditures include:
+ $735,000 in direct emergency assistance;
+ $726,615 for "Project Life," designed to serve individuals and
families directly affected by the events of Sept. 11;
+ $423,223 for "Camp New Ground," a week-long day camp for children
traumatized by disaster.  About 3,000 children lost parents on Sept. 11;
+ $422,055 for counseling and support groups;
+ $426,000 to Lutheran schools, specifically for tuition support,
counseling and intervention for 21,000 students, 42 who lost parents;
+ $65,000 for advocacy and work with immigrants or undocumented people;
+ $120,000 in respite care for clergy and other church leaders;
+ $40,000 to support a counselor and intern serving Salam Arabic
Lutheran Church, Brooklyn, N.Y.;
+ $208,022 for ministry with undocumented people residing in New Jersey;
+ $208,000 to support church agencies dealing with the economic impact
of Sept. 11 in Washington, D.C.
     Some budget projections for 2003 include:
+ $600,000 for direct emergency assistance;
+ $720,000 to support Project Life;
+ $450,000 to support Camp New Life;
+ $477,000 for counseling and support groups;
+ $244,000 for work with undocumented people;
+ $60,000 in respite care for church leaders;
+ $30,000 to support Salam Arabic Lutheran Church; and
+ $282,000 for ministry with African immigrant services in New Jersey.

     There are more than 14,500 body parts still not identified from
the World Trade Center ruins in New York, according to Ken Curtain,
Federal Emergency Management Agency, voluntary agency liaison.	"Of the
2,795 people reported missing, only 1,439 have been identified through
DNA testing, dental records, x-rays, tattoos and personal effects," he
said.  Furst met with Curtain on Jan.31.
     The Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan New
York Synod, said pastors are "exhibiting signs of stress."  Two of the
synod's pastors are moving closer to family homes and relatives.  It is
especially difficult for pastors who continue to minister directly with
widows and to members reporting for military duty, Bouman said.  "We're
frazzled. It still registers so deeply," he said.
     The Rev. E. Roy Riley Jr., bishop of the ELCA New Jersey Synod,
Hamilton Square, N.J., said several of his strongest pastors are having
difficulty serving in Sept. 11-affected communities.
     The major focus for LDR in 2003 includes ministry with people who
are hungry and homeless, those who are grieving and emotionally
distressed, care givers, rescue workers and disaster responders and
people without "voice and power," Furst said.
     The Sept. 11 response, like all disaster responses, changes day by
day, he said.  New needs like the Fujianese ministry and others
continually arise, said Furst.
     "We can only anticipate what will be needed next year and ahead,
and how world situations will affect us all.  But God has gifted our
church with social ministry organizations, synods and districts,
congregations and members, wonderfully linked and networked to provide
compassionate ministries.  LDR has the experience and credibility to
provide cutting-edge leadership in this and other responses," Furst
     LDR will continue its mission of bringing together the resources
and efforts of Lutherans to people in need, and reaching out to others
with Gospel hope and help, Furst added.
-- -- --

Editors: When listing organizations receiving funds for aid to survivors
of major disasters inside the United States, Puerto Rico or the U.S.
Virgin Islands, please include:

ELCA Domestic Disaster Response
P.O. Box 71764
Chicago, Illinois 60694-1764

Credit card gift line: 1-800-638-3522
Credit card gifts via Internet:

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

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