Today’s Front Line Hero: Upbring

By: Caitlyn Gudmundsen

June 8, 2020

Today’s Front Line Hero is Upbring, which is working to bring deserved recognition to the direct care professionals who serve children and families. Upbring’s President and CEO Michael Loo wrote an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman, calling these workers “social change warriors” and advocating for policies and resources to better support their work.

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Today’s Front Line Hero: Lem Cartman

June 5, 2020

By: Caitlyn Gudmundsen

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lemuel Cartman, intern at Lutheran Services in America, who is promoting racial justice and equity in his community. Lem will be a junior this fall at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, IN, and is doing a summer internship with Lutheran Services in America. Due to the..

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Language of the Unheard

June 05, 2020

By: Lem Cartman

I’m a first generation college student at Valparaiso University, pursuing a nursing degree. My keen interest in pursuing a career in the medical field is fueled by my commitment to providing quality services to marginalized communities. My guiding motivation is to eradicate poverty through empowering poor individuals to become self-sufficient..

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Today’s Front Line Hero: Wellspring Lutheran Services

June 04, 2020

By: Caitlyn Gudmundsen

Today’s Front Line Hero is Wellspring Lutheran Services, and the compassionate staff who are faithfully serving the youth in their community throughout the pandemic. Mr. Bond, a youth specialist at residential foster care campus New Directions, demonstrates Wellspring’s commitment to a “whole-person approach” to care by helping a youth who was feeling overwhelmed as he processed his emotions.

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Today’s Front Line Hero: Lutheran Settlement House

June 3, 2020

By: Caitlyn Gudmundsen

Today’s Front Line Hero is Lutheran Settlement House’s Bilingual Domestic Violence Program for their work to address domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. A report from the United Nations has identified a surge in domestic violence linked to lockdowns responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic and economic crisis have..

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Reflections: In gratitude for all that you do

As leaders of organizations centered and rooted in faith, we draw strength from each other as we persist in our mission to bring hope and healing to people.

I began a weekly CEO Update at the start of the pandemic because I thought it was important to stay in touch and communicate through a dark and uncertain time. As one of the largest nonprofit health and human services networks that cares for one in 50 people in America, we were hit especially hard by the pandemic.

While some CEO Updates were about important advocacy issues or programs, others were more reflective. I always received feedback from member CEOs on the reflections—notes like “I really needed that today” which kept me going.

One of my board members suggested that I compile the reflections together. As I look back, it’s clear that where we thought we’d be along the way changed—often—and mostly in ways that brought more challenges and hardships to Lutheran social ministry.

What was also clear was the extraordinary leadership, creativity and perseverance that you and leaders throughout the network demonstrated—examples of true leadership to adapt to never-before-seen situations and lead your teams with grace and courage. Lutheran social ministry stood up when we were most needed and you and your teams are the Front Line Heroes that we lift up for your life-saving work.

These Reflections are dedicated to you—for your remarkable leadership and our extraordinary journey together.



Extravagance of Grace

Today is the 505th anniversary of the Reformation when Martin Luther shared his theological insight that God’s gift of grace in Jesus Christ frees us from being focused on ourselves and opens us to care for others. Or as CEO Summit Theologian-in-Residence Pastor Mark Huber once put it, “it means it’s not about us.”

How is this relevant or reflected in Lutheran social ministry organizations today?

The foundation of our work is that all people have dignity and worth—not because of anything they do or don’t do but simply because they are—and that they are valued by God. As Lutheran social ministry, we create the space where people experience God’s grace through our care and compassion. It’s the why behind our work and reflected in how we do our work, in relationship with our neighbor, no matter who are neighbor is, where they’re from, or what they do.

So why does this matter?

God’s grace is extravagant and is revealed in the beauty and light we let into people’s lives, to remove the barriers that hold them back from achieving their potential and to empower them to realize their dreams. It’s why we persevere despite having to continually pivot and be stretched and stressed. It’s our calling, our vocation.

In the midst of our challenges and an uncertain future, may we remember that our presence matters, that our work brings more light and beauty into people’s lives, and that we do not do this work alone.