ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/ELCA presiding bishop responds to attacks on Jewish communityhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7874http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7874<div class="ExternalClass7DABC99A4E4C4CE89FAFF781C8F1FC06"><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (Feb. 22, 2017) – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has issued a letter in response to recent attacks and threats on the Jewish Community. </p><p>&#160;</p><p>February 22, 2017</p><p>Dear Sisters and Brothers,</p><p>These famous words attributed to the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller have been on my lips in recent days&#58; <em>&quot;Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.</em> … <em>Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.&quot;</em> </p><p>In the face of anti-Semitism, we are called to speak out – as an expression of our love of neighbor and as our faithful response to the love of God in Jesus. In doing so, we become ambassadors of hope in the face of despair, imitators of Christ.&#160;&#160; </p><p>Our Jewish neighbors are once again living under threats, fearful for their safety and security. Over the weekend, a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was desecrated, and on Monday, another wave of bomb threats was made to Jewish community centers across the country. This was at least the fourth round this year alone. As Christians, we affirm that Jews remain &quot;beloved of God&quot; and that an attack on them is an attack on those whom our God – the one God – has called &quot;my people.&quot;</p><p>In many places, with leadership from across this church, we are reaching out and showing up with our Jewish neighbors, often with ecumenical and inter-religious partners. We can and should continue and expand these important ministries of presence.&#160; </p><p>There is also the critical long-term work. As a church, in our 1994 Declaration to the Jewish Community, we have pledged &quot;to oppose the deadly working of such bigotry, both within our own circles and in the society around us.&quot; This will not happen quickly. It will take concerted efforts to correct &quot;the complicity of our own tradition within this history of hatred&quot; and to seek deeper mutual understanding and cooperation between Lutheran Christians and the Jewish community. We have many excellent resources to aid us in these complicated but necessary tasks&#58; <a href="http&#58;//elca.org/en/Faith/Ecumenical-and-Inter-Religious-Relations/Inter-Religious-Relations/Jewish-Relations"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">ELCA.org/en/Faith/Ecumenical-and-Inter-Religious-Relations/Inter-Religious-Relations/Jewish-Relations</span></a>.</p><p>So, let us continue to speak out, to reach out, to show up, and to root out this deadly bigotry of anti-Semitism. For the courage to do God's will, and for the peace of our Jewish neighbors, we pray. </p><p>In peace,</p><p>The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton</p><p>&#160;</p><p>- - -</p><p><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.7 million members in more than 9,300 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Candice Hill Buchbinder<br> 773-380-2877<br> Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org<br> <br></p><p>​</p></div>02/22/2017ELCA presiding bishop addresses President Trump’s refugee executive order http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7873http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7873<div class="ExternalClass8E0A8F28B37645EC822622A19A5F2DA9"><p>CHICAGO (Jan. 30, 2017) – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has issued a pastoral message addressing President Trump's executive order to restrict entry by refugees and visitors into the United States from seven predominately Muslim countries. </p><p>&#160;Eaton's message follows.</p><p>&#160;January 30, 2017</p><p><em>Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.</em> Yesterday, we heard these words in the Gospel reading from Matthew 5&#58;1-12, the beginning of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. In the Beatitudes, Jesus lays out a vision for life in God's realm, characterized by seeing those who are often most disregarded, including the meek, the mourning and the peacemaker, as bearers of God's blessing. Over the coming weeks, we will continue to hear this Gospel, including Jesus' call for his disciples to be carriers of God's light and hope and reconciliation to a world deeply in need of them.</p><p>In this spirit, earlier last week I communicated with the Trump administration asking that it not stop the U.S. refugee admissions program or stop resettlement from any country for any period of time. The Bible calls us to welcome the stranger and treat the sojourner as we would our own citizens. I agree with the importance of keeping our country secure as the administration stated in its executive order last Friday, but I am convinced that temporarily banning vulnerable refugees will not enhance our safety nor does it reflect our values as Christians. Instead, it will cause immediate harm by separating families, disrupting lives, and denying safety and hope to brothers and sisters who are already suffering.</p><p>Refugees being resettled in the United States have fled persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political views and/or associations. They wait for years for the chance to go home. But sometimes, there is no home for them to go back to. We know from our partners at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) that only 1 percent of all refugees are chosen for resettlement. </p><p>People of faith helped start and still sustain the refugee resettlement program in the United States following World War II. As Lutherans, many of our ancestors faced the pain of having to flee their homes and the joy of being welcomed in new communities across the United States. As we have done throughout history, millions of Lutherans across the country honor our shared biblical values as well as the best of our nation's traditions by offering refuge to those most in need. We are committed to continuing ministries of welcome that support and build communities around the country and stand firmly against any policies that result in scaling back the refugee resettlement program.</p><p>We must offer safety to people fleeing religious persecution regardless of their faith tradition. Christians and other religious minorities suffer persecution and rightly deserve protection, but including additional criteria based on religion could have discriminatory effects that would go against our nation's fundamental values related to freedom of religion.&#160; </p><p>I invite ELCA congregations into learning, prayer and action on behalf of those who seek refuge on our shores. The ELCA <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Messages/Immigration"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">&quot;Social Message on Immigration,&quot;</span></a> <a href="https&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Publicly-Engaged-Church/AMMPARO"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">AMMPARO strategy</span></a> and <a href="http&#58;//blog.lirs.org/5-ways-to-support-lirs-in-new-year/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">LIRS resources</span></a> are good places to start. You can also make a donation to <a href="https&#58;//community.elca.org/lutherandisasterresponse?_ga=1.36514851.282221521.1475871637"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Lutheran Disaster Response</span></a>. Those who have been part of resettling refugees or have their own immigration experience have important stories to share with their communities and testimony to make. I also encourage you to consider adding your voice by calling your members of Congress to share your support for refugees and using online advocacy opportunities through current alerts at <a href="https&#58;//secure2.convio.net/elca/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&amp;page=UserAction&amp;id=883"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">ELCA Advocacy</span></a> and <a href="https&#58;//secure2.convio.net/lirs/site/Advocacy%3bjsessionid=00000000.app260a?alertId=257&amp;pg=makeACall&amp;NONCE_TOKEN=96988416D9A29B70FD8EFAFDBA2C38CC#.WI-oBMH2bfM"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">LIRS</span></a>.</p><p>In Matthew 25&#58;35, Jesus said, &quot;I was a stranger and you welcomed me.&quot; Our Lord not only commanded us to welcome the stranger, Jesus made it clear that when we welcome the stranger into our homes and our hearts – we welcome him. </p><p>God's peace, </p><p>The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton <br>Presiding Bishop</p><p>&#160;</p><p>- - -</p><p><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.7 million members in more than 9,300 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Candice Hill Buchbinder<br> 773-380-2877<br> Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org<br> <br></p><p>&#160;</p><p><br></p><p>​</p></div>01/30/2017ELCA presiding bishop issues message in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7872http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7872<div class="ExternalClass56D252232AFB40329D763495D9A41B81"><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has issued the following pastoral message in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.</p><p>January 2017</p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><em>&quot;Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?&quot; He said, &quot;The one who showed him mercy.&quot; Jesus said to him, &quot;Go and do likewise.&quot; </em><br>(Luke 10&#58;36-37)</p><p>&#160;On Monday, Jan. 16, our nation will be observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dr. King's work called us, all of us, to remember our neighbor. As a civil rights leader, he spoke about a vision of a beloved community and preached a message of love. In his last speech, Dr. King said, &quot;Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness&quot; and then spoke of the parable of the good Samaritan. The key of the parable is the man's answer&#58; Being a neighbor is about how you act when a person is in need. As children of God, we are all deserving of respect and dignity.</p><p>According to Pew Research, in the ELCA more than 90 percent of the congregations are involved in some type of food ministry whether it's a soup kitchen, food pantry, community garden or other similar ministry. Through ELCA World Hunger, our congregations accompany communities toward a world of justice where all will be fed. We care for our neighbor in need, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day is another opportunity for us to be the church for one another.</p><p>We are called to be a church that embraces each person and confronts racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, age, gender, familial, sexual orientation, physical and economic barriers that can manifest themselves in unjust treatment, inequalities, exclusion and violence. Do we always get it right? No, we don't. As a denomination that must do better at being a neighbor – we have work to do.</p><p>Dr. King once said, &quot;There comes a time when silence is betrayal.&quot; When we hear and witness actions that intimidate, degrade, make fun of or cause harm and choose not to speak up, we are equally complicit in the action. Whether it is on a school playground, a water cooler conversation, in the halls of Congress or in a congregation, we are called to be the Samaritan. We are to show mercy and break our silence of all forms of violence including those that stereotype groups, demean people and discriminate.</p><p>Next week our nation will be inaugurating the next president. No matter whom you voted for, we are all children of God. Through our baptism in Jesus Christ, we become part of the One Body; what happens to one happens to us all. When we all are allowed to thrive in a society that treats everyone with dignity and respect, we open ourselves up to endless possibilities for prosperity. When opportunities are awarded to everyone equally, then we will all have unity and social harmony.</p><p>In his &quot;Letter from a Birmingham Jail,&quot; Dr. King wrote, &quot;We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.&quot; We have an opportunity to continue the legacy and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. not just on King Day, but every day, at all times and in all places.</p><p>God's peace, </p><p>The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton </p><p>Presiding Bishop </p><p>Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</p><p>&#160;<br>- - -<br><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.7 million members in more than 9,300 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Candice Hill Buchbinder<br> 773-380-2877<br> Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org<br>&#160;</p><p>​</p></div>01/13/2017ELCA leaders to participate in Martin Luther King Jr. Day events http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7871http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7871<div class="ExternalClassB26C1122B1D04F15B58B018A179CE224"><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, leaders from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will participate in nationwide commemoration activities Jan. 14-15.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King on his date of birth, it is my hope that we find ourselves stirred and challenged to fully embrace his courageous and prophetic vision of a beloved community,&quot; said Judith Roberts, director for ELCA Racial Justice Ministries. &quot;As a follower of Christ, Dr. King embodied what it means to live out a Christian vocation through teaching and actions.&#160;Dr. King raised the consciousness of racism, classism, capitalism and militarism in this nation while calling for accountability from the wider communities of faith.&quot;</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;As we remember the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin L. King Jr., many African Descent Lutheran Association local chapters seek to lift up and embrace King's spirit of ecumenism,&quot; said the Rev. Lamont Wells, national president, African Descent Lutheran Association. &quot;The various commemoration events in honor of Dr. King are critical and key ways that local ELCA synods can partner with their Lutheran ethnic populations – particularly people of African descent – to have relevant forums, powerful worship, and direct action that helps and challenges us to become beloved communities and grow as multicultural church together.&quot;</p><p><strong>Commemoration events include&#58;</strong><br><strong>&#160;</strong><br><strong>Saturday, Jan. 14</strong><br>·&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Roberts will join&#160;a delegation of young adult leaders from the ELCA who will participate in &quot;We Shall Not Be Moved,&quot; a march in Washington, D.C., organized by the National Action Network. The delegation is supported by ELCA Young Adult Ministries, the ELCA Young Adult Ministries network and ELCA Racial Justice programs. The delegation will participate in the day of scheduled events and will visit the King memorial.<br>·&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; William B. Horne, ELCA vice president, will be the keynote speaker and workshop leader at Journey of Faith Lutheran Church in Baltimore from 10 a.m. to 2&#58;30 p.m.</p><p><strong>Sunday Jan. 15</strong><br>·&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton will join the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, for a joint worship service at Westchester Lutheran Church in Los Angeles at 3 p.m. Following the worship service, a panel discussion will be offered by Eaton and Curry along with members of the Los Angeles Police Department focusing on how faith communities and law enforcement can work together to ensure safe communities.<br>·&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. Albert Starr, director for ELCA Ethnic Specific and Multicultural Ministries, will be the guest preacher at Upper Dublin Lutheran Church in Ambler, Pa., at 3 p.m.</p><p>·&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. Lamont Wells will be guest preacher at Messiah Lutheran Church in Lyndhurst, Ohio, at 3&#58;30 p.m.</p><p>·&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. Robert A. Rimbo, bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan New York Synod, will be guest preacher at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in the Bronx, N.Y., at 4 p.m. </p><p>- - -<br><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.7 million members in more than 9,300 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Candice Hill Buchbinder<br> 773-380-2877<br> Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</p><p><br>&#160;</p><p>&#160;</p><p>​</p></div>01/13/2017ELCA presiding bishop delivers her Christmas messagehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7870http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7870<div class="ExternalClass71F2B62D36B542A2AA1845DB5C522DFC"><p>CHICAGO&#160;– The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA),&#160;delivers <a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlNy9YHBPz0&amp;feature=youtu.be"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">her Christmas message</span></a>.</p><p>&#160;<img alt="Bp Eaton Christmas message 2016 screenshot small.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/elcanews/SiteAssets/Lists/ELCA%20News/AllItems/Bp%20Eaton%20Christmas%20message%202016%20screenshot%20small.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br>- - -<br><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.7 million members in more than 9,300 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Candice Hill Buchbinder<br> 773-380-2877<br> Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</p><p>​</p></div>12/09/2016ELCA presiding bishop and Episcopal Church presiding bishop World AIDS Day statementhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7869http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7869<div class="ExternalClass0D2D1FC0E34E4C5ABBC54D6A1EA16688"><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO&#160;- The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, have issued the following joint statement on 2016 World AIDS Day.</p><p><strong>World AIDS Day Statement</strong></p><p><strong><em>December 1</em></strong><strong>&#58; </strong></p><p>As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we are reminded of the promise of life that was given to us, unconditionally. Scriptures teach us that God's gift of life extends to all of us, no matter our circumstances. In the words of Apostle Paul, &quot;So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all…&quot; (Galatians 6&#58;9-10).</p><p>For many years, Lutherans, Episcopalians and other communities of faith have been engaged in efforts to provide care, treatment, prevention services, and have supported initiatives that fight stigma and discrimination towards those living with HIV.&#160; We mourn the 35 million lives lost to AIDS and, with 36.7 million people still living with HIV worldwide, our churches, our governments, and all other partners need to do more. We encourage Lutherans and Episcopalians near and far to stand in solidarity with all persons living with HIV, and to continue the difficult work of building an AIDS-free generation. We recommit ourselves to a future free of this pandemic.</p><p>A challenge of this magnitude requires all our efforts. Inequitable access to the life-saving medications, healthy diet and other vital determinants for breaking the hold of this epidemic, continue to disproportionately impact persons of color. A significant piece of this work is to ensure that antiretroviral medications are available to everyone who needs it. Currently, less than half of people affected by HIV have access to these lifesaving medications.&#160; Studies have shown that when a person who is HIV+ takes antiretroviral medications continuously and correctly, their viral load can be suppressed to the point where they are no longer infectious. In other words, treatment is prevention. And so, we must expand our efforts in this area.</p><p>We are called as people of faith actively to eliminate stigma and discrimination within our own faith communities and especially that which affects marginalized vulnerable and key populations (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, sex workers, people who inject drugs, prisoners, migrants, women and girls).&#160; We must be steadfast in our defense of the dignity and human rights of all people living with HIV.</p><p>As part of the sustainable development goals, which the United Nations adopted in September of 2015, the international community has committed to end the AIDS epidemic by the year 2030. Further commitments were made in June of this year when 192 countries meeting at the United Nations declared they will accelerate and scale up responses to HIV and AIDS to meet the goal of ending the epidemic by 2030.&#160; A critical pathway to this goal is the 90-90-90 strategy, which aims to ensure that by year 2020, 90% of those living with HIV will receive a diagnosis, 90% of persons living with HIV will receive antiretroviral medication, and 90% of those receiving antiretroviral will have their viral load suppressed.</p><p>Lack of funding for HIV and AIDS programs remains a challenge. The goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 will not be achieved if donor countries fail to address this funding gap. We call upon President-elect Donald Trump to make a public commitment to the global fight against HIV. We urge the new Administration and Congress to increase funding for PEPFAR; the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and domestic programs that provide preventive and treatment services in the United States.&#160; </p><p>&#160;</p><p><strong>The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry</strong><br><strong> Presiding Bishop and Primate</strong><br><strong> The Episcopal Church </strong></p><p><strong>&#160;</strong></p><p><strong>The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton</strong><br><strong> Presiding Bishop</strong><br><strong> Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong></p><p># # # #</p><p><em>For more info contact&#58;</em><br><em> Candice Hill Buchbinder</em><br><em> Public Relations Manager</em><br><em> Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</em><br><em> </em>Candice.HillBuchbinder@elca.org<br><em> 773.380.2877</em></p><p>&#160;</p><p>- - -</p><p><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.7 million members in more than 9,300 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.</p><p>​</p></div>12/01/2016