A Message from Marlene

 “Racing to Christmas”

I don’t know about you, but every year once Thanksgiving is over I feel like I shift into high speed for the race towards Christmas. Presents to buy, cookies to bake, house to decorate, cards to write, dinners to cook and on and on and on. In my head and heart, I tell myself to take a breath and refocus on what is really important—certainly not any of the things listed above. Easier said than done, right?

Christmas is intended to be a time of peace and reflection on the most marvelous gift we’ve ever been given—the gift of peace Himself—our Lord Jesus. So how do we manage to do all that we expect of ourselves and still focus on the real reason for the season? One of my favorite Bible verses is from Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Hmm, there might be something to this stillness at this frenetic time of year!

One of the ways that I decompress and take it down a notch is to listen to Christmas music—from the classical to the classics. One of the songs I enjoy is a lesser known Christmas song, Child of Peace. The partial lyrics read as follows:

On a night of promise long ago
When a star announced the light of hope
To a world that knew no peace before
The holy child of peace was born

Child of comfort, child of light
Hope that drowns away the night
Touch our lives from heaven above
Oh, child of peace we need your love

If you’re interested in hearing the song in its entirety click here.

So, dear friends, at this very special time of year I wish you peace and joy and a time for reflection. May the Child of Peace come into your hearts and provide all that you need.

Blessings as the year unfolds

P.S. As 2016 quickly comes to a close we would ask you to prayerfully consider an end of the year gift to assist us in our vision to equip and connect Lutheran and faith-based urban leaders to transform education programs to achieve sustainable and evolving excellence.

We continue to make great progress, but depend on friends like you to fund our mission. Please consider an end of the year contribution which can be sent electronically by clicking on http://centerforurbaned.org/donate/ or by sending your donation to:

475 Riverside Drive, Ste. 1244
New York, NY  10115

S.M.I.L.E. Participants meet in New York


An intensive three day training for our S.M.I.L.E. initiative (Strategic Minds Innovating Lutheran Education) was held in New York from November 3—5, 2016. Our time together began with a daylong visit to Astoria Lutheran School where we observed and participated in Astoria’s “theme” or project-based learning day. Teachers got to interact with their peers and with the children as they worked in multi-age groups to explore their topics. Following the day of observations time was scheduled so that teachers could share their insights, suggestions and ideas with each other.

On Friday, the group participated in the LSA annual teachers’ conference, attending workshops geared toward blended learning. Groups even had some fun on Friday night venturing into NYC to see a play, enjoy a slice of pizza and explore.

On Saturday, schools gathered to plan their next steps, review what was learned and to consult with our facilitators. Schools that participated were Astoria Lutheran School, NY; Long Island Lutheran, NY; Martin Luther H.S, Lansing, MI; Shining Stars Christian School, Milwaukee, WI.; and St. Timothy Lutheran School, San Jose, CA. Special thanks to our facilitators David Black, Bernard Bull, Kara Martone, and Jessica Raba. We are looking forward to continuing this journey with our partner schools as they seek to insure that each of their students meets his or her own God-given potential.

Speaking of the experience, Superintendent Traci Backus said, “I can say, to a person, everyone of us us felt like this was the best conference experience we ever had. Every activity was relevant, every site visit applied to our work, and even the Saturday walkabout near the guesthouse was productive. We were dreaming big dreams and planning big plans all week. It has been truly a privilege and an unforgettable experience.”

For more information of our S.M.I.L.E. program please contact us at mlund@lssny.org.

Memorandum of Understanding Between CUEM and California Lutheran University

Advisory Group: Gayle Renken, Shirley Becker, Mike Hillis, Julie Sieger, Gayle Denny, and Marlene Lund.

Advisory Group: Gayle Renken, Shirley Becker, Mike Hillis, Julie Sieger, Gayle Denny, and Marlene Lund.

CUEM and California Lutheran University’s Graduate School of Education signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining ways in which we might cooperate in ministry to urban faith-based schools.  Areas of interest include the development of a curriculum for seminarians around issues in education and in understanding their role in Lutheran education; programs to support urban educators and administrators; work with the Henderson Center to provide support for Lutheran and other faith-based school leaders;  and assisting with the establishment of a west coast training center for our SMILE project.  An advisory planning group met at CLU on November 15, 2016 for some initial planning.  Stay tuned as the programs and partnerships develop.  We’re pleased to be joining forces with one of our strong Lutheran colleges.

Thank you and God’ richest blessings for a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!



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