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Carolyn Shrader, a confirmation student from St. James Lutheran Church, flips through a booklet on Lutheran Social Services of Michigan’s refugee services. Photo by Amanda Holdsworth
February 07, 2013
Confirmation students from St. James Lutheran Church in Grosse Pointe Farms visited the Detroit office of Lutheran Social Services of Michigan Thursday, Jan. 28, to learn about the organization as part of the students’ “Exploration in Ministry” class.

Students previously visited other Lutheran churches and programs, as well as Beaumont Hospital.

“I can’t believe all of the locations Lutheran Social Services of Michigan has in the state,” said Carolyn Shrader, 11, of Grosse Pointe. “It’s a lot.”

The organization offers more than 70 programs in 40 cities across the Lower Peninsula, from foster care and adoption to subsidized housing, nursing homes, community centers and services to the homeless, refugees and persons with developmental disabilities.

Missionsbund, a social service work group from the early 1900s, incorporated the Lutheran Inner Mission League of Greater Detroit in 1934. The group changed its name soon after to The Lutheran Charities, before eventually merging with a similar organization in 1959 and settling on Lutheran Social Services of Michigan. According to the website, it’s the largest faith-based, non-profit human service organization in Michigan.

“Many people do not realize this, but one out of every 50 Americans is served by a Lutheran social service agency across the country,” said Rev. Louis Prues, LSSM’s Director of Planning and Business Development.

After a tour of the main office building, located at 8131 East Jefferson in Detroit, the class ventured next door to the Thomas Center for Children and Families. There, students talked to the foster care and social workers who assist more than 800 children a day.

Rev. Jennifer Parker Wrzeszcz, minster of family life at St. James, noted the church’s outreach team wants to get involved with providing supplies for foster children attending Camp Michi-Lu-Ca in July, as well as with LSSM’s backpack program, which provides backpacks and school supplies for foster children every August.

“We saw on their website that LSSM sponsors more than 40 foster children for summer camp and we’d love to help with gathering supplies,” Wrzeszcz said.

Thirteen-year-old Anna Simpson of Grosse Pointe Woods best summed up their experience: “Lutheran Social Services has so many places that help people and there are so many opportunities to volunteer.”

For more information on programs or how to get involved with LSSM, visit lssm.org or call (313) 823-7700.

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