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Lutheran World Relief Board Names Myrna Sheie Friend of LWR, Highlights Lutheran Malaria Initiative

Baltimore, February 9, 2012 — At a special awards dinner in her honor, Lutheran World Relief (LWR) presented retiring board member Myrna Sheie a Friend of Lutheran World Relief Award.

“Myrna’s service to LWR and to U.S. Lutherans exudes grace and class at every step. We are honored that she walked with us as a director for twelve years and pray God’s blessings upon her as she continues to follow Jesus on new paths,” says Dr. John Nunes, LWR president and CEO.

Sheie, who served four consecutive terms on the LWR board beginning in June 2000, is the former assistant to the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). She retired from the ELCA in 2011.

The awards dinner was held in Minneapolis as a part of LWR’s recent board meeting, which focused on the work of the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI) — a movement co-led by LWR and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod through a grant from the United Nations Foundation.

As a part of that focus, the LWR board participated in several events in the Minneapolis metropolitan area to raise awareness about LMI’s mission to eliminate malaria deaths in Africa by 2015.

On Sunday, January 29, LWR board members worshipped and attended special coffee hour receptions at four area churches: Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, Minn., Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Circle Pines, Minn. and Woodbury Lutheran Church in Woodbury, Minn.

That evening, LMI hosted a reception at Solera Restaurant in Minneapolis that highlighted the story of LWR donor LaRee Shebeck, a longtime member of Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Hopkins, Minn., who gave a generous gift to LMI in memory of her late husband, Robert.

“Bob was so grateful for the excellent medical care he received,” said Shebeck. “And because our daughter worked in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer and knew children there who died of malaria, giving to the Lutheran Malaria Initiative felt like the right choice for making a difference.”

On Monday, January 30, board members attended a special reception highlighting LMI and celebrating the partnership between LWR and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. The event featured guest speakers Dr. Jonathan A. Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota and McKnight Presidential Chair of Global Sustainability and Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota’s fifth district.

On Tuesday, January 31, at the board business meeting, the Honorable Steve Gunderson, president of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities was elected to the board.

Of Gunderson’s election, LWR board chair, the Rev. Richard Nelson, says, “It is a privilege to welcome to the LWR Board a person with the experience and obvious gifts of Congressman Gunderson. Steve brings a wealth of diverse and exemplary leadership, advocacy, and accompaniment skills to the table, and it is with great joy that we move into God’s marvelous future together!”

Board officers were also reelected as a part of the meeting. In addition to Rev. Nelson, senior pastor of Central Lutheran Church, who will continue to serve as board chair, Gloria Nelson was reelected as vice chair, and Jonathan Schultz as secretary.

About Lutheran World Relief (LWR):
Lutheran World Relief works to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and people experiencing poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America, both in times of emergencies and for the long term. With the financial support of US Lutherans and other donors, LWR strengthens communities through programs in agriculture, climate, and emergency support. LWR works with partners, supporters and technical assistance providers to achieve lasting results. For more information, visit

Lutheran World Relief is a ministry of U.S. Lutherans, serving communities living in poverty overseas.

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