ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/ELCA members observe 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7772http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7772<div class="ExternalClass38D98E600DED4DC1867A170D333AC13A"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States, killing 1,833 people and displacing hundreds of thousands in the Gulf region. In response to the powerful storm, members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) contributed more than $27 million to Lutheran Disaster Response to help support the recovery efforts and provided thousands of volunteer hours to help rebuild and restore communities along the Gulf Coast.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and most destructive disaster in U.S. history, causing more than $100 billion of destruction along an estimated 90,000 square miles. Lutheran Disaster Response worked through affiliates and social ministry agencies in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, providing support for relief and recovery efforts.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Shortly before the hurricane struck, the Rev. Ron Unger had accepted the call to serve as pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Kenner, La., moving from Lutheran Church of the Galilean in La Place, La., another ELCA congregation near New Orleans. Unger and his wife lost their home and all their belongings to Hurricane Katrina and were evacuated to Jackson, Miss., for several weeks. When residents were finally allowed back into New Orleans, Christ the King became a center for Sunday worship, serving people from other denominations whose churches had been destroyed.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “We were about as close as you could get to the city from the west and consequently this is where a lot of displaced people gathered then for worship. We couldn’t even begin the service on time for the first several weeks because people were discovering each other in the parking lot and falling into each other’s arms with hugs and kisses because they didn’t know if the others had survived or not. So that was very traumatic and those early weeks were very poignant, very poignant,” said Unger.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Although the hurricane caused considerable damage to the neighborhood surrounding Christ the King, the church building was spared. Unger said the congregation quickly mobilized and dedicated the parish hall to house volunteers coming to help rebuild New Orleans. The facility was in operation for about two years and hosted about 2,000 volunteers from across the country, he said.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Thousands of ELCA Lutherans traveled from all over the country, often multiple times, to help rebuild New Orleans and other communities along the Gulf Coast,” said the Rev. Michael Stadie, director, ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “I think in all the chaos and all the devastation that was involved, one of the greatest things that came out of the response effort was the tremendous volunteer effort that came together from all over the country,” said Mark Minick, senior vice president for Upbring, an ELCA affiliate, formerly Lutheran Social Services of the South.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The congregation of Peace Lutheran in Slidell, La., has housed more than 10,000 people since the hurricane. Volunteers reside in a facility the congregation built using funds donated in large part from the congregation of Mount Cross Lutheran Church in Camarillo, Calif. Lutheran Disaster Response also provided funds for the facility.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Out of so much terrible stuff that happened great things came and partnerships came,” said the Rev. Barbara Simmers, pastor of Peace Lutheran. “It was like a rebirth of the church. Not just for our area, but it gave the whole entire church a sense of what it means to be the community of saints.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; At the time of the hurricane, the Rev. Robin McCullough-Bade was serving as interim pastor of Lutheran Church of Our Saviour in Baton Rouge, La. In the weeks following the storm, McCullough-Bade brought together an interfaith group of clergy to help support residents. The group, which included Baptist, Jewish and Islamic clergy, met at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Baton Rouge. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “I gathered the faith community once a week for one hour. We never had an agenda, we opened in silent prayer and listened to what people needed,” she said. “We were so diverse and we rolled up our sleeves to help those in need.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Coming from different faith backgrounds didn’t matter, she said. “We had to find ways to respond because it was bigger than all of us.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “What’s truly amazing is the way in which, what I would call, the much more organic response of the whole church happened,” said the Rev. Kevin Massey, former associate director, Lutheran Disaster Response from 2005 to 2007. “You had congregations helping congregations; you had members helping members. You had every expression of the church taking some kind of role.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “There is no way to convey the magnitude of the damage and loss or the enormity of compassion and help that came through the volunteers who responded in Katrina’s wake,” said the Rev. Morgan Gordy, who at the time of Hurricane Katrina served as assistant to the bishop for disaster coordination in the ELCA Southeastern Synod.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In Mississippi, Lutherans who had medical and nursing backgrounds responded by putting together mobile health teams and setting up medical clinics with pharmacies at Bethel Lutheran Church in Biloxi and Christus Victor Lutheran Church in Ocean Springs. These congregations, along with Grace Lutheran in Long Beach, also distributed food and supplies and coordinated repair efforts. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “We were here in our church giving service to people in the community,” said Emily Jane Cates, a longtime member of Christus Victor. “We had people coming in all the time for supplies. We fed people out of our kitchen. People slept in the church, even on the pews in the sanctuary and we had tents out front. It was a bad deal but the good Lord gave us the supplies to help the needs of our people. We had people from all over the world that came in here and helped us. It was unreal the support we had.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; After about 10 months, Christus Victor moved its disaster recovery ministry to a location in Oceanside where they founded Camp Victor Ministries. In addition to disaster relief, the program also provided case management and construction management services. Over the years, the program has housed 50,000 volunteers from 50 states and 20 countries.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Bethel Lutheran transitioned its volunteer center into Camp Biloxi and maintained the free medical clinic at the church until 2008. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In Alabama, St. Paul Lutheran Church in Mobile established a hospitality center for volunteers and provided supplies and emergency assistance for survivors in need. The congregations from Martin Luther Lutheran Church in Mobile, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Daphne, and Grace Lutheran Church in Foley, also assisted in this effort, which was in operation for four years after the hurricane.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The devastation and the response cannot be summed up in a few words. It is an ongoing story about a storm that changed everyone’s lives forever. God’s grace was manifest in the hands and hearts of those who came to help. For those who came, who cared, who prayed, we are forever grateful,” said Gordy.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In response to college students who sought ways to help with hurricane recovery efforts, Lutheran Disaster Response started an alternative spring break program called “What a Relief.”&#160; More than 800 students from 34 schools participated during the spring of 2006. The program expanded to coordinate more than 50,000 volunteers over the next four years following Hurricane Katrina.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Many of those students had an eye-opening experience through those trips, and I like to believe that it changed the course of some of their lives in terms of career aspirations and understanding of their vocation,” said Michael Nevergall, program associate for Lutheran Disaster Response from 2005 to 2007.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Jessica Vermilyea, Louisiana state director for Upbring Disaster Response, said Hurricane Katrina affected volunteers in unexpected ways.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “All these mission trips for Hurricane Katrina ended up being a training ground for church mission volunteers, who then went home to respond to disasters in their areas. They didn’t know they would have to use that knowledge in their own backyards,” she said. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In May 2006, 13 members from St. Philip Lutheran Church in Fridley, Minn., traveled to Ocean Springs to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Since then, volunteers from&#160;St. Philip’s Disaster Relief Ministry have made 55 trips to disasters throughout the United States, traveling more than 50,000 miles and working more than 20,000 hours.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “There is something special about disaster trips and the many volunteers that go on them,” said Mike Anderson, co-coordinator for St. Philip Disaster Relief Ministry. “There is also something special about others that support the work that takes place through prayers and financial donations. And there is something special about the rebuilding that takes place. But what is most special is that it’s God's work. God’s work is helping your neighbor.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The 2009 and 2012 ELCA Youth Gatherings, held in New Orleans, brought thousands of youth volunteers who worked with the community to help build relationships and connections with residents. During the 2012 Gathering, the youth designated a portion of their offerings to help with the development of an ELCA Latino ministry, which will serve the large community of day laborers who traveled from Central America to help in the rebuilding efforts. Christ the King serves as the primary mission partner for the Latino congregation under development. The Rev. Rachel Ringlaben was recently ordained and installed as the pastor and mission developer for the congregation.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Recalling Isaiah 58&#58;12, which says, “you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in,” Ringlaben said, “This new wave of migrants have literally done this, they have repaired where the levees were damaged. They have shown the greater New Orleans community what church looks like in their midst.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Ringlaben said many of the migrants left difficult situations in their home countries and feel they are “on common ground with the people of New Orleans. Although their stories are different, there is a resonance of new life coming forth from tragedy. It is a story they are familiar with because of the gospel all things are new,” she said. “Whether you are a (resident) of New Orleans and have felt forgotten or you are a recent migrant who, although making New Orleans your home, you still feel invisible, through the power of the resurrection we can tell people that God does not forget you.”</p><p>- - -<br><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America&#58;</strong><br>The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” 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.<br>For information contact&#58;<br>Candice Hill Buchbinder<br><span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space&#58;nowrap;">773-380-2877<a title="Call&#58; 773-380-2877" href="#" style="margin&#58;0px;border&#58;currentcolor;left&#58;0px;top&#58;0px;width&#58;16px;height&#58;16px;right&#58;0px;bottom&#58;0px;overflow&#58;hidden;vertical-align&#58;middle;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline;white-space&#58;nowrap;position&#58;static !important;"></a></span> or <a href="mailto&#58;Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</a><br><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news">www.ELCA.org/news</a><br>Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans">www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a><br>Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/">www.livinglutheran.com</a></p></div>08/28/2015ELCA to join AME Church Sept. 6 for prayer, commitment to end racismhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7771http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7771<div class="ExternalClass506D08FE36EE49469DD6A07EA79F601A"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">CHICAGO (ELCA) – In response to a statement and call to action from the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has pledged the 3.8 million-member ELCA to participate Sept. 6 in &quot;Confession, Repentance and Commitment to End Racism Sunday.&quot;</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The AME Church, together with the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, are calling &quot;every church, temple, mosque and faith communion&quot; to &quot;confess and repent from the sin of racism&quot; Sept. 6 during their respective worship. Faith leaders worldwide are being asked to preach about racism and engage as &quot;people of faith to end racism.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We received the AME Bishops statement and call to action,&quot; wrote Eaton in a letter to AME Church leaders. &quot;I pledge to you that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will participate, and I will invite our bishops, pastors, and leaders to reach out to ecumenical and inter-religious partners to encourage them to do so as well, and to consider possible ways of joining together,&quot; she wrote.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; ELCA worship resources for Sept. 6 are available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/resources/worship">www.ELCA.org/resources/worship</a> and resources from the AME at <a href="http&#58;//www.ame-church.com/liberty-and-justice-for-all">www.ame-church.com/liberty-and-justice-for-all</a>. To encourage participation and continued conversation about racism, Eaton shared these resources in an Aug. 25 email to ELCA rostered leaders.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;As churches, we must confront the sin of racism in our society and in our shared life together. As we look with you toward the Bicentennial of the AME Church, we renew our calling to speak and act against racism and injustice. This is our commitment, in partnership with you, with the ecumenical family, and with all others who seek to build the beloved community,&quot; wrote Eaton in her letter to AME Church leaders.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In that letter, the ELCA presiding bishop also thanked AME Church leaders for their &quot;gracious hospitality&quot; at the funeral of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was among nine people killed June 17 at a historic African American church in Charleston, S.C. Local authorities called the killings racially motivated.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;I was humbled by the way in which you received me and included me in the (funeral) procession,&quot; wrote Eaton, &quot;I have experienced the powerful Christian witness that is the living legacy of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In an interview with the ELCA, Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who serves as chair of the AME's Social Action Commission and presides over the AME Office of Ecumenical Affairs, said&#58; &quot;It is imperative that the faith community again be the conscience of the nation. The problem of race and racism is one in which this nation is in denial. And as a result, the nation is seeing unfortunate consequences. To overcome this denial, the faith community must move the nation to face reality. The tragedy in Charleston, S.C., serves as a painful reminder that hate and racism are still prevalent in the nation, and you cannot fix the problem unless you face it. This is what the faith community is called and seeks to do.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The AME, like many of the historical black church traditions, was birthed because of the divisions and sin of racism within the church,&quot; said Judith Roberts, program director for ELCA Racial Justice Ministries. &quot;Black Americans were treated as less than and relegated to a second-class status within the dominant white church experience. The attitudes and actions within the church reflected the wider society,&quot; she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Bishop Eaton has called (the ELCA) to confront the many ways racism manifests within both church and society, in the ways culture, attitudes, actions, policies and powers continue to marginalize people and communities of color,&quot; said Roberts.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In an effort to continue understanding the complexity and implications of racism, Eaton and William B. Horne II, a member of the ELCA Church Council from Clearwater, Fla., invited ELCA members to participate in a live webcast Aug. 6. A recording of the webcast along with a list of ELCA resources about this church's ongoing racial justice work is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/webcast">www.ELCA.org/webcast</a>. Eaton's public statements are available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Resources/Presiding-Bishop-Messages">www.ELCA.org/Resources/Presiding-Bishop-Messages</a>. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The act of repentance is a turning away from former actions that lead to death, division and destruction and called into a new relationship that breaths and gives life. I hope this call for action leads us to see the injustices, disadvantages and absence of relationships across race in both congregational life and society,&quot; said Roberts.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;It is important not to confuse Christian unity with uniformity. Our diversity – whether theological, racial or otherwise – is a God-given gift,&quot; said Kathryn Lohre, assistant to the ELCA presiding bishop and executive for ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;As we seek to accompany our sisters and brothers in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, especially in the wake of the tragedy at Mother Emanuel AME Church, we are called to first confess and repent for our complicity in racial injustice, and then to recommit ourselves to overcoming racism in church and society. We cannot underestimate the importance of journeying with our ecumenical and inter-religious partners as we seek to respond to this call,&quot; said Lohre.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Lohre said the ELCA also has been invited to participate in the launch of the &quot;Liberty and Justice for All&quot; movement Sept. 1-2 in Washington, D.C. Information about the movement is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.ame-church.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Invitation-With-Liberty-and-Justice-For-All.pdf">www.ame-church.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Invitation-With-Liberty-and-Justice-For-All.pdf</a>. <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 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 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> Melissa Ramirez Cooper<br> Associate Director, ELCA Publications and Public Relations<br> 773-380-2956 or <a href="mailto&#58;Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org">Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org</a><br> <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news">http&#58;//www.ELCA.org/news</a><br> Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans">http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a><br> Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</a><br><br></p></div>08/25/2015ELCA bishop poses ethical questions to Congress regarding Iran planhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7770http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7770<div class="ExternalClass76A2A91B7DCC45A0B42B61B5D511DA21"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">CHICAGO (ELCA) – In an Aug. 5 letter to U.S. Congress, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), urged for &quot;careful deliberation and consideration&quot; in response to the &quot;Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,&quot; which &quot;seeks to 'ensure that Iran's nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.'&quot;</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The full text of the letter follows&#58;</p><p>Dear Member of Congress,</p><p>As presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), I am writing you regarding the &quot;Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action&quot; which seeks to &quot;ensure that Iran's nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.&quot;&#160; We urge your careful deliberation and consideration of a number of ethical dimensions which should be taken in account when deciding how to avoid conflict and war. </p><p>We believe God calls the ELCA to be a community for peace and justice; that is, to seek among ourselves and to call on other people to seek the things that lead to a world in which everyone may flourish.&#160; As such a community, the ELCA in its social teaching statement &quot;For Peace in God's World,&quot; sets a high priority on seeking non-violent means and on arms control and specifically encourages &quot;a sharp reduction in the number of weapons of mass destruction.&quot; It gives priority to agreements that &quot;decrease the possibility of nuclear confrontation or accident.&quot;&#160; </p><p>Neither I, nor my church body, pretend to be knowledgeable enough to assess fully the adequacy of the &quot;Joint Plan,&quot; although we have high regard for those in political authority charged with the heavy burden of having brought this Joint Plan into being. I am aware that the United Nations Security Council endorsed the Plan unanimously. The plan is such a critical international agreement it deserves the most careful moral evaluation.</p><p>Our church believes that all humans are created for life in community with God, all other humans and the rest of creation.&#160; Our church recognizes that governments may employ justifiable force but should do so according to carefully assessed criteria to restrain evil, succor the common good and to protect sovereignty.&#160; God's priority for peace remains paramount, however, and favors the use of wise restraint and sound cooperation that gives significance to the possibilities of peace through non-violent means for all people.&#160; </p><p>Based on the teachings of our church, we appeal to you to consider several critical questions about the Joint Plan; questions that have not been dominant in the public debates. Precisely because we have high regard for those in political authority, we invite you to weigh heavily the following ethical criteria&#58; </p><p>•&#160;Does it strengthen the will and ability to resolve conflict peacefully?<br> •&#160;Does it have the support of an international community that fosters differences in unity?<br> •&#160;Does it advocate international codification and support effective ways to monitor and&#160;ensure compliance?<br> •&#160;Does it encourage the politics of cooperation that build confidence among nations&#160;through forms of state conduct that are legal, nonviolent, verifiable and open?<br> •&#160;Does it improve structures of common security for nations as a whole?<br> •&#160;Does it seem likely to prevent war or reduce the possibility of violence?</p><p>These criteria, our church teaches, are critical questions for any political initiative.&#160; If these, on the whole, may be answered positively regarding the Joint Plan, then we keenly urge you as a U.S. law maker to support this historic opportunity because it would strengthen the common good and prevent a march to war with attendant horrendous &quot;collateral damage&quot; and unanticipated consequences.&#160; </p><p>With prayers for your service in government, we commend to you these concerns.</p><p>God's peace,</p><p>Elizabeth A. Eaton<br> ELCA Presiding Bishop</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Messages and statements from the ELCA presiding bishop are available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Resources/Presiding-Bishop-Messages">http&#58;//www.elca.org/Resources/Presiding-Bishop-Messages</a>.<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 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 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> Melissa Ramirez Cooper<br> Associate Director, ELCA Publications and Public Relations<br> 773-380-2956 or <a href="mailto&#58;Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org">Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org</a><br> <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news">www.ELCA.org/news</a><br> Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans">www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a><br> Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/">www.livinglutheran.com</a> <br></p></div>08/07/2015ELCA chaplains convene for education and traininghttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7769http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7769<div class="ExternalClassCB66A0740F164A3D95D61262EF6EC650"><p>​​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – Traveling from as far away as Hawaii and Germany, 70 chaplains from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) convened in Chicago for the annual Chaplain Education and Training Event July 26-30. The chaplains, some of whom have recently returned from deployments in Afghanistan, Colombia and Djibouti, serve in the U.S. military, Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and federal prisons.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “One strategic aim is to deepen connections between chaplaincy ministries and congregations, synods, ELCA churchwide colleagues, agencies and institutions,” said the Rev. Eric Wester, assistant to the ELCA presiding bishop and director of ELCA federal chaplaincies.<br>“Our chaplains bring word and sacrament ministries into isolated and restricted places – whether deployed or afloat with military personnel, at VA hospitals or in federal prisons. This gospel ministry extends the witness of congregations and all expressions of the ELCA.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In her opening remarks to the chaplains, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton said the church could learn a lot from the chaplains and their ministry among people of different faiths and cultures.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “My guess is that every single one of your ministries is a multicultural ministry, in that the people whom you serve are not mono-cultural. But our church is now 94 percent white,” said Eaton. “Maybe the first step is, how do we start to have a conversation about race in this church? You do it all the time. And we need your help to help our folks open our eyes in new ways and find ways that we can actually get to know people who are not looking just like us.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton stressed to the chaplains how their ministry is connected to her four emphases for the ELCA&#58;&#160; “We are church, we are Lutheran, we are church together, and we are church for the sake of the world.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “When we think of ourselves as church, we are the people of God gathered around word and sacrament. We are the baptized body of Christ. We’re not just a social service agency with sacraments,” said Eaton. “How are we able to say that my life makes sense because of the love of God I’ve experienced in Jesus Christ? Maybe that’s something you can help us with as well. Because my guess is when someone is sitting in the prison cell and the chaplain comes by, they might want to be talking about Jesus. And when you’re talking to soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guard personnel, especially in Afghanistan or other places around the world, they probably want to talk about Jesus and not just other things we do as a church.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “People in the parish cannot be in the places where you serve, so we’re counting on you to do that for us. And you need to count on us to be giving you support from the places where we are. And we’re not just congregations, or conferences or synods but a churchwide expression. We also have agencies, institutions, universities and seminaries. We do this together,” said Eaton.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Maj. Gen. Howard Stendahl, U.S. Air Force chief of chaplains and an ELCA pastor, said he is “proud to be a part of this community of faith.” In an interview, Stendahl spoke of Eaton’s leadership, saying the bishop “nurtures a culture of fidelity and faithfulness to the gospel.” Stendahl said he views that faithfulness as “a hospitality of the soul of every person that celebrates the gospel, in a way that shows a hospitality as opposed to judgment (or) fear or exclusion.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Over the years I’ve worked with vastly diverse clergy and audiences and people of no faith. No threat comes to me from someone who has a different faith. Sometimes people or a religious faith can insist or even demand their own way and look at others with judgment in hospitality. I never saw Jesus do that. When there was a need, he fed them, healed them, whatever their needs were at that time,” said Stendahl.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; During the event, workshop sessions focused on important ministry responsibilities for the chaplains. Topics included leading worship in public and institutional settings, pastoral care for those navigating moral injury, innovative use of the ELCA’s Book of Faith initiative, ministry to same-gender families and engaging young adults.&#160; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Wester said the chaplains also celebrated their commitment to the chaplaincy scholarship with the ELCA Fund for Leaders.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “In our first year, chaplains offered over $60,000 toward our five-year goal of $300,000 as part of the <em>Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA,” </em>said Wester. “We expect to present our first seminary scholarship in 2016.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA Fund for Leaders is an ELCA initiative to build an endowed scholarship resource to provide tuition assistance for qualified candidates studying at ELCA seminaries and is one of 10 priorities of <em>The Campaign for the ELCA</em>, a five-year comprehensive effort.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “I think it’s a very exciting time to be in chaplaincy and serving the church,” said Col. Michael T. Lembke, an ELCA pastor who serves as chaplain at the U.S. Southern Command in Doral, Fla. “I’m perfectly able to go back to my place in Florida to tell the story about what the ELCA is doing. I understand where the bishop wants to go.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The fact [is] that we can be who we are in our tradition, with liturgies and lectionary, to use the word and means of grace and to understand the context in which we are,” said Lembke. “And that’s where the mutual feeding between the churchwide and the chaplaincies is great because there are plenty of commonalities and there are also some unique (aspects of ministry) that we learn from each other.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Recruiting the next generation of chaplains is another strategic aim for the chaplaincy ministry and was a major topic of discussion during the event.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Twenty years ago, over 400 practicing chaplains served in the military, VA hospitals and federal prisons,” said Wester. “Now the ELCA has barely 200 pastors serving in chaplaincy, and we need more. Lutherans are going without Word and Sacrament ministry due to insufficient numbers of pastors serving in federal chaplaincy. For pastors open to serving in a public, global, institutional ministry and interested in young adults – chaplaincy is a great path of service.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; For Chaplain Maj. Kerstin Hedlund, an ELCA pastor and army reservist who serves at Lake Park Lutheran in Milwaukee and also at chaplain school in Fort Jackson, S.C., the event illustrated how the ELCA “affirms and encourages” the chaplaincy ministry, “not making it seem like a lesser route to take or less Lutheran route to take. That it’s a very Lutheran route to take, a very enriching and positive thing for the world and for the military and for people who really need a Lutheran voice in a place where they don’t have it.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The ELCA is a treasure for those of us who are in specialized ministry,” said Stendahl. They don’t abandon us or send us off. But events like this keep us rooted in our lifelong fidelity of the church … it’s priceless.”&#160; <br>---<br><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America&#58;</strong><br>The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” 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.<br>For information contact&#58;<br>Candice Hill Buchbinder<br><span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space&#58;nowrap;">773-380-2877<a title="Call&#58; 773-380-2877" href="#" style="margin&#58;0px;border&#58;currentcolor;left&#58;0px;top&#58;0px;width&#58;16px;height&#58;16px;right&#58;0px;bottom&#58;0px;overflow&#58;hidden;vertical-align&#58;middle;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline;white-space&#58;nowrap;position&#58;static !important;"></a></span> or <a href="mailto&#58;Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</a><br><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news">http&#58;//www.ELCA.org/news</a><br>Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans">http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a><br>Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</a></p></div>08/06/2015ELCA, Moravian Church observe 15th anniversary of full communion agreementhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7768http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7768<div class="ExternalClass21D7F513D20F4743A456635D0BF1C48F"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – This year marks the 15th anniversary of the full communion agreement between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Moravian Church in America. The agreement was adopted by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 1999 and subsequently by the Northern and Southern provinces of the Moravian Church in America the following year. The full communion agreement is outlined in the document “Following Our Shepherd to Full Communion.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “It has been a privilege and a joy to be part of a growing love for one another as sisters and brothers in Christ, and a growing desire to follow our Shepherd together as we journey in full communion,” said Kathryn M. Lohre, executive for ELCA ecumenical and inter-religious relations.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Together with the Rev. Chris Thore of the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in America, Lohre provides staff support to the Lutheran-Moravian Coordinating Committee, which held its annual meeting July 27-29 at the Moravian Summer Camp and Retreat Center in Laurel Ridge, N.C. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “On the sacred ground of the mountain, we were able to look back on our shared history and also to look forward together to where God is calling us in the next 15 years and beyond,” Lohre said. “We give thanks to God for the many gifts which have brought this partnership to the place it is today and to all those that will nurture, sustain and grow it into the future.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Our Moravian forbearers would be pleased to see the results of the Lutheran-Moravian Coordinating Committee’s work over the past 15 years and would anticipate with great joy the work that we look forward to in the years ahead,” said the Rev. Kelly Moore, co-chair of the Lutheran-Moravian Coordinating Committee and co-pastor at Fries Memorial Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Full communion is not a merger between denominations. It is a relationship based on common confessing of the Christian faith and mutual recognition of baptism and sharing of the Lord’s Supper. The churches worship together and may exchange clergy.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; One example of the Lutheran-Moravian joint ministry can be found in Wilmington, N.C., where the Rev. Rachel Connelly, an ELCA pastor, serves two congregations – Water of Life Lutheran Church and Covenant Moravian Church.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “I have seen the Lutheran-Moravian partnership open lines of communication that led the way to deeper relationships and subsequently prompted leaders to put aside uncertainty about doing ministry together. The results have been joyous and impressive,” said the Rev. Samuel R. Zeiser, bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod and a member of the coordinating committee.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In addition to the Moravian Church in America, the ELCA is in full communion with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), the Reformed Church in America, the United Church of Christ, The Episcopal Church and The United Methodist Church. <br>---<br><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America&#58;</strong><br>The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” 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.<br>For information contact&#58;<br>Candice Hill Buchbinder<br><span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space&#58;nowrap;">773-380-2877<a title="Call&#58; 773-380-2877" href="#" style="margin&#58;0px;border&#58;currentcolor;left&#58;0px;top&#58;0px;width&#58;16px;height&#58;16px;right&#58;0px;bottom&#58;0px;overflow&#58;hidden;vertical-align&#58;middle;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline;white-space&#58;nowrap;position&#58;static !important;"></a></span> or <a href="mailto&#58;Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</a><br><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news">http&#58;//www.ELCA.org/news</a><br>Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans">http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a><br>Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</a></p></div>07/31/2015ELCA presiding bishop to hold live webcast on confronting racismhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7767http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7767<div class="ExternalClass7D5C9BBF8C054EBEB7EC56B85F0AB835"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">CHICAGO (ELCA) – </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">In an effort to continue understanding the complexity and implications of racism, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), invites the 3.8 million member church to participate in a live webcast Aug. 6 at 8 p.m. (CDT).</span></p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; William B. Horne II, a member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Clearwater, Fla., and a member of the ELCA Church Council, will serve as host. Eaton and Horne will have an on-camera conversation about the church's efforts in defining and confronting racism, advancing racial justice and more.<br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span>&quot;Talking about race and racism is hard w</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">ork for most of us,&quot; said Horne. &quot;Our Christian witness compels us to confront our sinfulness in all forms from within and outside of ourselves. It is more beneficial if we do it tog</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">ether.&quot;<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span>Eaton said the webcast conversation serves in part as &quot;a call to acti</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">on&quot; to guide members' efforts to address &quot;the sin of racism.&quot;<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span>&quot;We are part of the body of Christ, and we belong to each other. As part of the body of Christ, we need to examine how we live in relationship with one another,&quot; said Eaton.<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span>​In several public statements, the ELCA presiding bishop has called for deep conversations about racism and racial justice, particularly in response to several events across the United States, including Charleston, S.C; Baltimore; and Ferguson, Mo.<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span>​&quot;God's intention for all humanity is that we see the intrinsic worth, dignity and value of all people. Racism undermines the promise of community and fractures authentic relationships with one another. We need to talk and we need to listen, but we also need to act,&quot; Eaton said in a June 24 statement.<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span>​&quot;Each of us and all of us need to examine ourselves, our church and our communities. We need to be honest about the reality of racism within us and around us,&quot; said Eaton in a June 18 statement in response to the shooting in Charleston that killed nine people. Local authorities called the killings racially motivated.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Information about the webcast is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/webcast">www.ELCA.org/webcast</a>, where a link to the live webcast will be embedded. A live stream also will be available at <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans">www.Facebook.com/Lutherans</a>. Twitter handle is #ELCAConfrontRacism. ELCA members are invited to submit a question to be considered during the live webcast at <a href="mailto&#58;livinglutheran@elca.org">livinglutheran@elca.org</a>.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton's public statements are available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Resources/Presiding-Bishop-Messages">http&#58;//www.elca.org/Resources/Presiding-Bishop-Messages</a>.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA's social statement &quot;Freed in Christ&#58; Race, Ethnicity, and Culture&quot; is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Race-Ethnicity-and-Culture">www.ELCA.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Race-Ethnicity-and-Culture</a>.<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 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 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><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Melissa Ramirez Cooper<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Associate Director, ELCA Publications and Public Relations<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">​<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"><br>Candice Hill Buchbinder<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">ELCA Public Relations Media Specialist<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">773-380-2877 or </span><a href="mailto&#58;Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org" style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</a><br><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news" style="line-height&#58;1.6;">http&#58;//www.ELCA.org/news</a><br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Facebook&#58; </span><a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans" style="line-height&#58;1.6;">http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a><br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Living Lutheran&#58; </span><a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/" style="line-height&#58;1.6;">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</a><br></p></div>07/23/2015