Photo blogs

A visual tour of ELCA congregations, people and events.

In Nomine Jesu: J.S. Bach

Jul 29, 2013

On July 28 the church remembers its most celebrated musician, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Known as one of the greatest musical geniuses in history, Bach was also a dedicated Lutheran.

The Leipzig Bach Festival — The city of Leipzig, Germany, annually holds a large musical extravaganza in honor of the beloved composer.

The Bachhaus in Eisenach, Germany, is a museum dedicated to J.S. Bach, who was born in the city. He also spent the first 10 years of his life in Eisenach. The museum boasts 600 displays and over 250 original exhibits — including a Bach music autograph.

Autographed manuscript of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Der Herr ist mein Gertreuer Hirt “(“The Lord is my faithful shepherd”), BWV 112, Dated April 8, 1731. With permission of the Morgan Library.

Who’s buried in Bach’s tomb? Bach was buried in an unmarked grave in 1750. Because of an 1894 expansion of the church graveyard at Johanneskirsche, there was an opportunity to determine the exact location of his grave. Based on the casket type, gender and age of the skeleton there was a probability that his remains may have been found. The remains were re-interred only to be moved again to the Thomaskirsche when the first church was destroyed in World War II.

Bach statue at Thomaskirche (St. Thomas Church), a Lutheran church in Leipzig. Bach was the Kapellmeister there from 1723 until his death in 1750. The statue by Carl Seffner was dedicated in 1908.

Germany issued this stamp in 1971 in celebration of the 250th anniversary of Bach’s composition of the Brandenburg Concertos.

We are a church that rolls up its sleeves

Jul 22, 2013

On Sept., 8, 2013, the ELCA will join together as 4 million members, nearly 10,000 congregations, 65 synods and the churchwide expression for “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday — a dedicated day of service. Of course, the ELCA is no stranger to rolling up its sleeves and getting to work. In preparation for “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday, check out what these congregations from across the country are already doing to love and serve their neighbors.

Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo., celebrates Be the Blessing Sunday once a year. The congregation cancels two of its services and members take part in service projects across the community.

Peace Lutheran Church in Tacoma, Wash., holds an annual holiday bazaar to serve its neighbors. Members of the community bring low-cost gifts for people to give at Christmas. They also serve a meal that only costs one dollar.

Faith Lutheran Church in O’Fallon, Ill., hosts a weekly restaurant-style meal for anyone who wants to stop by.

The Trinity Samaritans at Trinity Lutheran Church in Kissimmee, Fla., work with local food pantries, homeless shelters and social agencies to fulfill unmet needs across their community.

Youth of the ELCA Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod took a trip to South Dakota in June 2013 to help with repair work of homes on an American Indian reservation.

VBS — Always being made new

Jul 15, 2013

Vacation Bible school, the summer event that connects children to Jesus through fun-filled activities and hands-on learning, has been a staple in many ELCA congregations for many decades. Vacation Bible school is not a new concept, but what congregations are doing with their programs this summer is new and exciting.

Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

Vacation Bible school attendees at Christ the King Lutheran Church, St. Peters, Mo., having a “HayDay” at this year’s “weekend” session in June.

Day 2 of vacation Bible school at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Monona, Wis., focused on God’s creation and seeds, flowers and plants.

“And a little child shall lead them!” Children line up for a “Rip Roaring Good Time” at St. Mark Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio.

Children enjoying vacation Bible school worship at Grace Lutheran Church, Luverne, Minn.

St. John Lutheran Church, Fargo, N.D., had an awesome week under twinkling stars, around campfires and among tents. For four nights, participants gathered to talk about serving Jesus at God’s Backyard Bible Camp for vacation Bible School.

Young adults grow through service abroad

Jul 08, 2013

The ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program offers young people a year of service that can be life-changing.

The 2012-2013 group of ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission volunteers during the closing worship at the 2012 summer orientation in the United States. Photo taken by alumna Sarah Delap.

In preparation for a year of service as one of the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission volunteers for 2013-2014, Luke Roehl is learning to quilt with the help of the quilting club in his Seattle congregation. Through donations, members of the congregation have purchased squares of the quilt to help him raise the money he needs to contribute toward his year of service. The completed quilt will be given to Luke’s host family in South Africa.

In Fianarantsoa, Madagascar, ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission volunteer Jane Gingrich teaches English as well as pancake-making to a group of women at a seminary. The women are gathered around a traditional Malagasy charcoal stove for food and conversation.

ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission volunteer in Hungary, Ashley Debilzen, is serving at Gyerekház Lutheran Children’s Center in the Roma village of Görögszállás.

In Malaysia, ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission volunteer Patrick Cudahy teaches at the Grace Center.

On her last day at a crèche (nursery school) in South Africa, ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission volunteer Laura Castle receives a special goodbye.

New grads in the Holy Land

Jul 01, 2013

Students in the Holy Land celebrate their graduations.

Kindergartners at Dar al-Kalima Model School in Bethlehem prepare to take the stage.

A graduating kindergartner on stage.

As part of the ceremony, students performed skits and dances before receiving their diplomas.

Graduates of the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour.

The Beit Sahour Dabke dance troupe performs for the audience.

The voice of one calling in the wilderness

Jun 24, 2013

On June 24 we celebrate the life of John the Baptist, the forerunner to Jesus who preached of the Messiah's coming.


“The Visitation” from Chartres Cathedral, before 1260 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:39-42).


“Zacharias Writes Down the Name of His Son” by Domenico Ghirlandaio, fresco 1486-1490, Santa Maria Novella, Florence Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John” (Luke 1:62-63).


“Infant Jesus and John the Baptist” by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, 1600s, Museo del Prado All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him (Luke 1:66).


“St. John the Baptist” by Leonardo da Vinci, The Louvre, Paris Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:6-8).


“Baptism of Jesus” by He Qi Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matthew 3:13-14)


“Beheading of Saint John the Baptist” by Caravaggio But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, added to them all by shutting up John in prison (Luke 3:19-20).


“Salome Receiving the Head of John the Baptist” by Bernardino Luini But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter” (Matthew 14:6-8). His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus (Matthew 14:12).