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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran
denomination in the U.S., is considering pronouncing a statement of
caution concerning genetically modified seed.

“The draft does not condemn GMOs (genetically modified organisms),” Bishop Bill Rindy told InForum.
“It just says that, as we’re playing with the very building blocks of
life, let’s be careful and thoughtful about that be­cause we do not
want to do damage in the process.”

One parish, Anselm Trinity Lutheran Church
in Sheldon, N.D., has already announced its plans to leave the ELCA
over the issue. Sheldon is located in the Red River Valley, where
farming with GM crops is a widespread practice.

The ELCA’s churchwide assembly will vote on this and other elements of the statement next August.

• Salem, Connecticut, would like to keep its “rural character” but lower taxes too, by attracting more local businesses. Great idea!

a new survey, 9 out of 10 Salemites said  “the town is too dependent on
residential taxes and doesn’t generate enough through commercial
development.” Currently, 94% of Salem’s taxes are collected from
residents, 6 percent from businesses.

The wish list sounds
familiar: residents want “family restaurants, drugstores, those with a
“green” focus, grocery stores, agriculture/plants, small corporate
headquarters, organic restaurants, agriculture/animals and
village-style shops.” Salemites also say that “development must
incorporate attractive building designs.”

We look forward to hearing how this plan is enacted, in Salem or elsewhere.

• On Monday, USDA announced a new loan program for rehabbing multi-family homes in rural America – 30 year loans at 1 % interest.

housing is a key in keeping America’s rural towns vibrant,” said Dallas
Tonsager, Undersecretary for Rural Development.  The loans will be
targeted to projects that repair multi-family rental properties,
Tonsager said, “to make it easier for the people who work in rural
America to live there, too.”

• Thousands of poor Mississippians displaced by Hurricane Katrina, especially inland residents,
have not received any federal help for housing in the five years since the

But a group of housing advocates kept pressing, and on
Monday federal officials announced that $133 million would be dedicated
to what Gerald Blessey, former Biloxi mayor, called “hard cases that
were not being taken care of.”

The New York Times
reports “Housing advocates have long criticized the state for not
spending enough of its $5.5 billion in federal grant money on
low-income residents, but that criticism reached a fever pitch in 2007
when Mississippi announced it was redirecting $600 million of federal
money to refurbish and expand the shipping port here.”

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