Two Lutheran agencies move to Baltimore

Catholic and Orthodox relief groups also in area

September 20, 1999|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

Two worldwide Lutheran agencies will open their headquarters in Baltimore's Inner Harbor today, continuing the march of nonprofit headquarters to the city.

Lutheran World Relief and Lutheran Immigration and Relief Service, known as LIRS, moved into their new quarters at 700 Light St. during the weekend.

The organizations, previously based in New York, will bring about 70 jobs to Baltimore.

"Now that this day has come, I think everybody who's making the move is really happy," said Jonathan Frerichs, a spokesman for Lutheran World Relief. "We've had such a great reception every step of the way in Baltimore."

Lutheran World Relief grew from a movement of Lutheran churches in 1945 to help Lutherans left homeless by World War II. The agency works in 50 countries each year, with local partners training people to produce food, dig wells and restore the environment.

Most recently, the agency has been working with churches to get food, tents and mattresses to people displaced in East Timor. It also has a continuing effort to rid the world of land mines.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service helps people seeking asylum, former refugees and children unaccompanied by their parents.

"Our moving to Baltimore really helps increase the interest in resettlement in Baltimore, and we're very pleased about that," said Ralston Deffenbaugh, president of LIRS.

Both agencies are supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and by The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

Lutheran World Relief will become the third faith-based relief agency based in Baltimore.

Catholic Relief Services, one of the largest nongovernmental agencies providing food and emergency help, moved its world headquarters to Baltimore from Manhattan several years ago. International Orthodox Christian Charities, the relief agency of the Orthodox Christian churches, has offices in Hampden.

Frerichs said Lutheran World Relief hopes to take advantage of its proximity to Catholic Relief Services to participate in joint projects. The two agencies have worked together in North Korea.

"They are doing the same kind of work," Frerichs said. "There is a lot of [collegiality] and faith commonality to share."

Pub Date: 9/20/99

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