A visual tour of ELCA congregations, people and events.
A special dedication
In an effort to provide a place for Christians in the Middle East and from around the world to gather for pilgrimage and baptism, members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land have officially opened the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan. Dedicated on Jan. 6, 2014, Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan is located where Christians believe John the Baptist baptized Jesus. The ELCA and the Lutheran church in Jordan and the Holy Land are members of The Lutheran World Federation — a global communion of 142 churches representing more than 70 million Christians in 79 countries. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.
The Rev. Rolf Pearson and his wife, Deacon Kerstin Pearson, seconded by the Church of Sweden, were installed during the dedication service as the caregivers of the site. Over the coming months, they hope to develop a pilgrimage site for those who wish to visit.
The Rt. Rev. Alex G. Malasusa, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania and vice president of The Lutheran World Federation, also took part in the dedication.
The Rev. Rafael Malpica (left), executive director for ELCA global mission, told those gathered, “In our baptism we participate in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, and in this place we are reaffirming our baptismal vocation of following in the steps of Jesus, participating through him in God's mission to restore community with God and with one another.”
Other clergy who attended the dedication were Archbishop Anders Wejryd of the Church of Sweden, and Bishop Atle Sommerfeldt of the Church of Norway. The Church of Norway and the Church of Sweden are members of The Lutheran World Federation.
“During a time when many Christian communities in the Middle East are experiencing strained relationships with their neighbors of other faiths, it is refreshing to see such a strong commitment from King Abdullah for the thriving of Christian churches in Jordan,” said the Rev. Robert Smith, ELCA program director for the Middle East and Africa.
Prince Raed bin Zeid (center), the Rev. Munib Younan (right) bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and the Rev. Samer Azar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Amman walk together toward Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan for the Jan. 6, 2014, dedication.
According to the Rev. Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan is a concrete way to help Christians in the Middle East connect with pilgrims all over the world “with us here in Jerusalem, and in Bethlehem.”
The Mission Investment Fund, the lending ministry of the ELCA, provided a loan for Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan. “The Mission Investment Fund is humbled to be able to participate in a building project at such a historic site,” said Eva M. Roby, president and CEO of the Mission Investment Fund.
In addition to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan, the site includes a pastor’s house and a multipurpose hall.
The baptismal site has a remarkable degree of archaeological veracity. It is described in several pilgrim accounts from the fifth century onward.
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Christian church bodies worldwide are participating in the World Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Jan. 18-25. Donald McCoid, executive assistant to the presiding bishop, ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations, said the week “is a time for common prayers for unity. The ELCA supports this week, as well as continued prayers for the unity of Christians throughout the world."
Church leaders from the Chicago area gather in song during an ecumenical prayer service in 2008 to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at Christ Community Church in South Holland, Ill.
Clergy assemble at First Lutheran Church in Winnipeg, Canada, during the January 2012 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Christian leaders gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu for the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity evening service, Jan. 24, 2013. Jeff M. Lilley, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, provided the homily.
Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran and Russian Orthodox clergy participated in a shared ecumenical celebration at the Stella Maris Seafarers' Centre in Barcelona.
Church leaders from around the world gather for worship at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem during the week of services for the 2012 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The St. John Hispanic Choir performs during a celebration for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at Grace Lutheran Church in Westminster, Md., on Jan. 29, 2012.
The sacrament of Baptism
For Lutherans, Baptism is one of two sacraments — an act instituted by God. Baptism is necessary because God's word both commands that we baptize and promises life.
The font at Christ the King Church in Houston is at the entrance to the nave to remind all who enter that we come to the assembly by way of our baptism.
The baptismal candle is lit from the Christ candle at Peace Lutheran Church in Tomah, Wis.
Mawien Ariik, pastor, baptizes an adult at a worship service of the Sudanese Lutheran Church in Minnesota in Anoka, Minn.
The pastor and assistant pastor of Light of the World Lutheran Church, Farmington, Minn. during an infant baptism.
A young boy is baptized at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Springfield, Va.
Baptism at the 2012 Easter Vigil at Atonement Lutheran Church in Racine, Wis. Participating were members from Atonement, Emmaus, St. Andrew, Our Savior's and Emmanuel Lutheran congregations.
The word “epiphany” comes from the Greek word “ἐπιφάνεια,” meaning "appearance" or "showing forth.” It names the day that the church tells Matthew’s story of the magi from foreign lands who follow the light of the star and thus see Jesus as Christ. We celebrate the Epiphany of Our Lord on Jan. 6.
“The Magi Journeying (Les rois mages en voyage),” by James Tissot, 1886-1894. Brooklyn Museum.
“The Adoration of the Magi” by Nicola Pisano, 1260. Panel from the pulpit of the Duomo, Siena, Italy.
“The Three Kings, kneeling with gifts” by Joseph Christian Leyendecker, 1900.
“The Adoration of the Magi,” by He Qi, China, 2001.
“The Magi,” a mosaic from a late 6th century at the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy.
“The Adoration of the Magi” by Marcelo Barros.
One of the earliest known depictions of the magi from a 2nd century sarcophagus, Vatican Museums, Rome.
Happy New Year!
Grace and peace to you from your colleagues at Living Lutheran! As we continue to celebrate the coming of the Christ child and embrace a new year, leaders of the ELCA extend to you and your congregation a special greeting. “Eternal God, you have placed us in a world of space and time, and through the events of our lives you bless us with your love. Grant that in the new year we may know your presence, see your love at work, and live in the light of the event that gives us joy forever — the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 63) .
“Each new year is a gift — a wonderful reminder of God’s grace. We have nothing to bring about the new year. It is given and we receive it. Be thankful. May your new year be blessed!” — Elizabeth Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop
“The new year always brings promise and hope as we begin a new year. We have a feeling that the slate has been wiped clean, and we are starting new. In baptism God gives us newness every day. May 2014 be the year in which we live in that daily promise to the glory of God and the life of the world.” — Chris Boerger, ELCA secretary
“The coming of a new year offers us an opportunity to start fresh — a renewal of sorts. It's the same feeling I get every time I recite the prayer of confession and take communion. It's a new canvas, and, from that point, it's what you make of it. May your canvas for the new year be filled with beauty, love and joy!” — Carlos Peña, ELCA vice president
“Our theme for the anniversary year of the ELCA has been “Always being made new.” Now that 25 years have come and gone, we are still being made new. Whether it is Jan. 1 or Sept. 11, whether it is July 4 or June 19, we are always being made new in Christ. Thanks be to God.” — Jessica Crist, bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod and chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops
Breaking new ground in Jordan
Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and others will celebrate in January 2014 the opening of the new Evangelical Lutheran Church at Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan. The denomination represents one of seven Christian church bodies given land by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Members of the church and others broke ground Jan. 6, 2012, and celebrated with a Service of Holy Communion by the Jordan River. Below are images from that service and the groundbreaking. The ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land are members of The Lutheran World Federation, a communion representing more than 70 million Christians in the world.
The site contains a church, pastor’s house and multipurpose hall.
The Rev. Munib A. Younan (right), bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and president of The Lutheran World Federation, presided. Other worship leaders included the Rev. Mitri Raheb (center), Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, and the Rev. Samer Azar, Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Amman, Jordan.
Pastor Raheb distributes communion.
Though Palestinian Christians have been in the Holy Land since the first Pentecost, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land traces its roots to the mid-19th century when German and English missionaries came to teach. Today the denomination has six congregations in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, Beit Jala and Amman.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land maintains an active women’s ministry.
Pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and others break ground for the new baptismal site.
The new Evangelical Lutheran Church at Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan will be the first Lutheran church on a holy site.
Christians of all denominations are invited to enjoy and worship at the facilities.