LSG's 2014 Heroes: The Rev. Darrel and Mary Peterson


Each year, Lutheran Services of Georgia honors community heroes at the annual Heroes of Hope, Healing, and Strength Gala! On Thursday, September 25, 2014, LSG will honor Lutheran leaders Rev. Darrel and Mary Peterson, community leader Erroll B. Davis, and business leader R.N.C. Industries. For the next three weeks, we'll be sharing more information about our 2014 Heroes on our blog. For more information about the Gala, click here.

Mary and Darrel Peterson have ties that run deep with Lutheran Social Service agencies. Mary was adopted as an infant from Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota. Darrel has served on and has chaired the Boards of Lutheran Social Service Agencies in South Dakota, Colorado and Georgia. Both have been and are active advocates for social ministries in the Lutheran community.

Darrel is in his 45th year of being a Lutheran Pastor. He served congregations in Sioux Falls, SD, Aurora, CO and Marietta, GA. Prior to his retirement in November of 2013, he served as an Assistant to the Bishop of the Southeastern Synod of the ELCA. Darrel spent twelve years with Lutheran Brotherhood / Thrivent, first as a financial representative and later as an Agency Resource Manager. He has a history of working with stewardship and social ministry.

Mary has been a financial representative with Lutheran Brotherhood / Thrivent for 25 years. She is a Certified Financial Planner CFP® and a legacy consultant. She has worked in support of LSG management and staff in their planning and benefits.

Mary and Darrel are both natives of Minnesota and graduates of Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Darrel is an alumnus of Luther Seminary in St. Paul. Mary was an elementary teacher prior to going to work for Lutheran Brotherhood.

The Petersons have two grown sons, Derek and Adam. Derek lives in Marietta and is Mary’s business partner. He is married to Jennifer and they have two children, Fiona and Lars. Adam lives in Lakeland , Florida where he works for an environmental consulting company.

Darrel and Mary were instrumental in their Lutheran Brotherhood context initiating the annual LSG golf outing, as well as organizing the Lutheran Night at the Braves. In 1994, more than 5,000 Lutherans attended Lutheran Night at the Braves.

Refugee Services: From Drought and Danger to Dadaab

Each year, LSG helps hundreds of refugee families resettle in the United States after spending months or years being displaced in refugee camps

Since January, more than 120,000 Somali refugees have arrived in the already overcrowded camps in Dadaab, Kenya – the largest refugee camp in the world.  Driven there by the prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa which led to a failed harvest and dying animals, coupled with the growing insecurity inside Somalia, many of the refugees have walked for up to 15 days or more to reach Dadaab.

The Lutheran World Federation, which manages the refugee camps in Dadaab, has been hard at work building extensions to the camps to provide a more secure environment for those fleeing Somalia.  For more information on the work of the LWF in Dadaab, see here.

Mohamed Ahmed, Lutheran Services of Georgia Resettlement Case Manager and a former refugee from Somalia, says that it is almost unimaginable to him that even when so many around the world are eager and ready to provide food, water and shelter to those suffering from the drought in his homeland of Somalia, extremist groups refuse to let the help get to the people who need it the most.

To see the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees video, "Kenya: Dadaab Keeps Growing," click here.

For more information on Lutheran Services of Georgia's refugee services, click here.

Adoption: A Baby's Long Journey Home

A baby girl, born too soon, too tiny, and with so many medical complications, has shown us all what it means to be a true fighter. Lutheran Services of Georgia is known by local hospitals as a go-to agency to find families for domestic infants with medical issues, so it was no surprise when the LSG adoption case manager received a call about Annie.

At the time, her prognosis was very guarded, but soon the good days outnumbered the bad. And a family had come forward – mom, an NICU nurse, and dad, a teacher. Even though they live out of state, they visited Annie as often as possible through the many months she was in the hospital. Annie’s birth mother knew that her child would be in good hands when she selected them to adopt Annie.

Finally, in early August, Annie was released and today is a plump, happy little baby. There’s still a long road ahead for Annie and her new family, but we all know that there’s a lot of fight in that little seven-pound baby. One baby, one birth family, one adoptive family – one agency fulfilling its mission to bring people home.

For more information on Lutheran Services of Georgia's adoption services, click here.