By Laura J. Seaman
The recent tragedy in Santa Maria, Brazil, has hit home for families of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod partner church there, the Igreja Evangelica Luterana do Brasil (the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil – IELB).
Santa Maria is a university town. In the early hours of Sunday morning, Jan. 27, more than 230 people were killed in a nightclub fire after a display of pyrotechnics raged out of control. The majority of the victims were college students, many under the age of 20.
The nightclub fire is among the worst of its kind in recent years and has attracted the attention of media worldwide. According to news reports, the nightclub was overcrowded and had only one exit.
Among those killed are three students from the Universidade Luterana do Brasil (ULBRA), the largest Lutheran university in the world. The dean of the school stated on its website: “ULBRA remains dismayed and in solidarity with all who lost loved ones in the tragedy in Santa Maria” and will continue to “stand by family and friends” of the student victims.
The Rectory of the school has decreed official mourning.
Other victims include two sons of a student at the school and a young member of an IELB congregation in Uruguaiana, Brazil. Lutheran pastors are reaching out in mercy to assist families and friends in the community and the school as they cope with the loss of loved ones, according to information supplied by the IELB to the Rev. Ted Krey, regional director, Latin America and the Caribbean, LCMS Office of International Mission.
“We have the promise,” said the IELB’s Rev. Mario Lehenbauer, “that it is precisely in times of deep pain and weakness that God takes us by the hand and inspires the ministry of love, care and acceptance to which all the congregations of the IELB are being called.”
Laura J. Seaman is a staff writer for LCMS Communications.
Posted Feb. 1, 2013 / Updated April 30, 2013