John Anderson — an educator, musician, youth minister, seminarian and pastoral intern — will be the guest speaker for the sixth annual ELCA Outreach Center Spring Benefit fundraising event May 9 at The Club at Strawberry Creek.

Benefit organizer Ellen Brookhouse is excited to have Anderson, the grandson of the late Ralph Houghton, at the event.

“He has been the youth director at St. Mary’s Lutheran Church, just completed seminary and now is doing his pastoral internship in Racine,” she said. “He is an incredible musician and vocalist and has his own musical group that performs throughout the city.”

Anderson and his college roommate formed a band called The Lonely Ninjas when he was attending undergraduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The two performed for 10 years throughout Wisconsin.

“My roommate eventually went to seminary and is now a pastor in Florida,” Anderson said. “I continue playing with a number of exceptionally talented individuals in Kenosha, still using the band name The Lonely Ninjas.”

Continuing the mission

The Spring Benefit raises funds to continue the ELCA Outreach Center’s mission of sharing God’s love by addressing the needs of children, youth and adults through programs and services that encourage them to become self-sufficient, caring and participating members of the community.

Some of the services provided by the center include prescription assistance, clothing, computer and internet access, resume building and job search assistance, GED classes in English and Spanish, basic computer training, youth programming and more.

Brookhouse formed a committee six years ago to create the Spring Benefit, which raised $27,000 last year.

“We decorate the venue for spring and sell hanging floral baskets, have a silent auction — where we have had such lovely things as colorful handmade benches for the garden, beautiful decorative pots for one’s deck or patio, floral watercolors done by local artists, a day at the Chicago Botanic Garden and golf for a foursome at The Club at Strawberry Creek,” she explained.

“These are just some of the items that are up for auction. We usually draw around 200 or more to this beautiful venue, which overlooks the golf course at Strawberry Creek.”

Charitable partnership

Anderson, husband to wife Andrea and the father of three boys, will graduate with a master’s in divinity from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. He began a yearlong pastoral internship at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in January. He has also partnered with several charitable organizations in Kenosha, including the ELCA Outreach Center for the past 10 years.

“The youth program at St. Mary’s has partnered with the Outreach Center on a number of different service projects over the years,” he said. “I was also part of a group of leaders who organized a ‘Night of Worship for the Outreach Center.’ These nights were meant to raise awareness and funds for the Outreach Center. Over the last 3½ years we have raised over $25,000 and served over 1,000 meals. This partnership continues today.”

Anderson said he will be speaking on the many needs in the city and the ways the Outreach Center has sought to meet those needs. He quoted Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

“A friend of mine, who pays more attention to verbs than I do, apparently, once remarked that though this verse instructs us to ‘Do justice and love kindness,’ we more often have it backwards,” he explained. “We love justice, but do random acts of kindness, which is much easier than creating justice. It is much easier to go to the soup kitchen and ladle soup than it is to address the causes of hunger. It is much easier to pay for the hamburger of the person who is coming after you in the drive-thru or chip in a few dollars when the person in front of you at the grocery store can’t quite pay her bill.”

While there is nothing wrong with random acts of kindness, Anderson said it is important to listen to God and what he wants us to do on the long term, so we are in alignment with his will.

“Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly with God. So simple. But, if you think it is easy, you have never tried it,” he explained. “One thing: it’s never done. You can’t be kind once and then you have met your kindness obligation. You can’t shovel one person’s driveway and then you can check mercy off your list. And doing justice: well, all you can do is make progress, fail, step back, go forward, fail again. Sometimes you think you have done justice, and later you realize that you just made things a worse mess. But you get up and try again. I suppose that is where humility comes in.”

Anderson hopes for a large turnout from the community for the Spring Benefit to support the ELCA Outreach Center.

“I do not believe there is an organization like the Outreach Center — from leadership through their volunteers — that does more for the city of Kenosha,” he said. “They not only provide for physical needs, but they also give their clients dignity and respect. They empower individuals and help to prepare them to live self-sufficient and positive lives.”

If you go

What: 2019 Spring Benefit for the ELCA Outreach Center

When: Thursday, May 9; 5:30-6:30 p.m. social hour (cash bar), 6:30 p.m. dinner

Where: The Club at Strawberry Creek, 14810 72nd St.

Guest speaker: John Anderson

Cost: $75 per person

RSVP: Online at elcaoutreachcenter.org before May 3

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