The Chigumukire Village Clinic & Feeding Center

by Roberta Joern, Coordinator of Mission & Outreach

Today is the beginning of an important milestone for First Lutheran Church.  We announce the global mission cornerstone of our 150th Anniversary celebration - the Chigumukire Village Clinic and Feeding Center to be built in a village of the Salima Parish in Malawi, our partner parish.  Before we peer into the future, I would like to review the past.  Many of you may know that First Lutheran Church is credited with starting the former Luther Hospital, now Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, in 1908.  The hospital had a humble beginning in the building located on Oxford Avenue, kitty corner from our current church location, filling an urgent need for quality health care in the Chippewa Valley, notably injuries sustained in the logging industry.  At that time, who could have imagined how the hospital would develop into its future?

Fast forward to June, 2013 when our Synod elected Pastor Rick Hoyme as our new bishop.  Electing a new bishop was impetus for Bishop Joseph Bvumbwe of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Malawi (ELCM) and his wife, Maria, to join us in this history making event.  We at First Lutheran were privileged to meet with the Bvumbwes before they returned to Malawi.  At this meeting we discussed our companion synod partnership with Salima Parish and what Bishop Bvumbwe thought would be an appropriate next step in this partnership.  We learned that there was significant need in the Chigumukire Village for health care, particularly for children five years old and younger.  Again, an urgent need that the congregation of First Lutheran can help to satisfy, and once more, in the health care arena.  We've come full circle!  Who can imagine how the Chigumukire Village Clinic and Feeding Center will develop into its future?

Our meeting on this project with the Bvumbwes last June resulted in a sixteen page application that Dean Joseph Banda, assistant to Bishop Bvumbwe and our guest at worship on Sunday, Dec. 1, wrote and sent to us last August.  Our 150th Anniversary Committee unanimously endorsed this project and shared it with our Council and First Lutheran Foundation for further review and endorsement.  How exciting!  Now today, as we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child, we hope that you will also open all your senses to the message from our brothers and sisters in Malawi.  O come, O come Emmanuel.