ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/ELCA members gather together for dedicated day of servicehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7696http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7696<div class="ExternalClass0782D159E6ED490CA32AF88C10EB58A2"><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) — Building on the work they do every day, thousands of members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) gathered together Sept. 7 to serve their communities as part of “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Many wearing bright yellow “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday T-shirts, members of all ages organized and participated in a multitude of service projects across the United States, which included collecting food for local food pantries, assembling personal-care kits for shelters and hospitals, cleaning up public spaces, filling backpacks with much-needed school supplies and writing letters to veterans and to members of Congress.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “It was a tremendous day of showing that we are church together. Yellow was the color of the day, and many wore it proudly,” said the Rev. David M. Murphy, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Peshtigo, Wis. More than 50 members of Good Shepherd worked in a local park where they resealed the wooden playground.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday provides a unique opportunity for the nearly 10,000 congregations of the ELCA to gather together and lend their hands in service to their neighborhoods and communities. Although the day of service was primarily observed Sept. 7, many congregations schedule activities on other dates throughout the year.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Members of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Charlotte, N.C., constructed a free library located in a low-income apartment complex in Charlotte. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “This event provided the opportunity for additional members to join in our ministry to these families through the planning, designing and building of the Little Free Library, along with donating hundreds of books over the summer months leading up to ‘God's Work. Our hands.’ Sunday. This project allowed our congregation to use our hands in new ways to continue to do God’s work with this community,” said Sally Barnard Daggett, outreach team leader at Holy Trinity.&#160; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; At St. John’s Lutheran Church in North Versailles, Pa., one group of volunteers cleared brush and weeds from a local cemetery while other members baked and delivered cookies and thank-you notes to local fire and police departments.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “‘God’s work. Our hands.’ (Sunday) became a time of fellowship and an opportunity to serve beyond the walls of St John’s. It was an opportunity to teach the youth about doing something for someone else,” said St. John’s member Brenda Neundorf, noting that it was difficult “for some of the younger kids to understand why they couldn’t eat the cookies they had just worked to bake. We look forward to participating in ‘God’s work. Our hands.’ (Sunday) next year.” <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Terri Robertson, youth and family minister at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Whittier, Calif., said the day of service inspired the congregation from the early days of planning through the weekend of activities. Members filled and delivered lunch bags to day laborers throughout the city, assembled backpacks with school supplies for the neighborhood elementary school, made fleece blankets for Lutheran World Relief and wrote letters and cards for veterans in Veterans Administration facilities throughout Southern California.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “From the formation of a planning team to the congregation's donations of school supplies and monetary gifts, and finally the weekend of assembling, packing, cutting, tying and delivering, I witnessed our congregation serve together in ways I've not seen before. Through it all, we grew closer to one another,” said Robertson. “All ages – from our Brownie Girl Scouts to our older members, one just recovering from a stroke – we worked side by side, sharing in a common goal to be the hands of God here in Whittier.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “On Sunday, when we delivered food bags to those in need throughout our community, we had the chance to see the face of God over and over again. Many were inspired to work in the days and weeks ahead to serve in this way on a consistent and more frequent basis,” said Robertson, who added that a 10-year-old member “summed it up best” when he said, “It feels good to give.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Laura Gifford, who helped organize events at Joyful Servant Lutheran Church in Newberg, Ore., said “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday exemplifies the congregation’s calling.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;As our name indicates, Joyful Servant was founded with a conscious intent to be God's hands and feet in the Newberg community. 'God's work. Our hands.' Sunday provided a wonderful opportunity for us to honor our roots. While helping our community, we helped ourselves to remember that the many parts of our body will continue to make us strong. God provides,&quot; said Gifford.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The congregation of Joyful Servant baked and delivered cookies to local fire departments, wrote notes to shut-ins and worked on a blackberry eradication project to help rehabilitate a local creek. Members also compiled citizenship class packets for Lutheran Community Services Northwest and tied diaper bundles for distribution at Mary’s Place, a Lutheran Community Services Northwest relief nursery, located on church property and named after a founding member of Joyful Servant.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; At Agnus Dei Lutheran Church in Gig Harbor, Wash., members put their faith in action by writing letters to Congress in support of the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions as proposed in the Clean Air Act, the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, and the Older Americans Act. Agnus Dei member Phyllis Brandt said that although the congregation “readily responds” to the needs of their neighbors, they also look for ways to help make a difference beyond their local community.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Service projects that we undertake benefit local needs. Advocacy letter-writing tackles the root causes on a large scale. We believe that we need to do both,” said Brandt. “Concern for clean air, federal nutritional programs for children (and) programs that promote well-being for older Americans are of such a large scope. But it doesn't mean that we throw up our hands in frustration. We need to let our voices be heard as we join with others who also share an understanding that joined together we can have an influence.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. Mari Larson, pastor of Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church in Clarkdale, Ariz., said the congregation’s “fellowship hall buzzed with excitement” as members worked on projects that included preparing kits for those without homes, sorting clothes for a clothing exchange and moving a non-functioning organ. Pieces from the organ are being made into art that will be sold to fund other ministries of the congregation. On Monday, some members continued the day of service by helping out at a local food pantry.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Since the average age of Spirit of Joy members is over 60, we knew that cleaning gutters and raking leaves would leave out some of our members, so we brought ‘God’s work. Our hands.’ Sunday inside and completed projects that didn’t require as much physical stamina. In doing so, we more than tripled the number of people participating in our social ministries,” said Larson. She emphasized that through “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday, “we truly are the body of Christ together in service to friends we haven’t yet met in our communities and the world.”<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&#160;about 4 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.</p><p>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>09/17/2014ELCA young adults begin year-long journey of global servicehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7695http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7695<div class="ExternalClassE5FE08E221F44A82948264FEEF5FF239"><p>&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – Sixty-three young adults from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have begun a year-long journey in which they will “live and learn and serve” with ELCA companion churches and partner organizations around the world. The young adults are participants in the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission program – an international mission opportunity for young people from the ages of 21 to 29. </p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The Young Adults in Global Mission program is, for me, among the clearest examples of why it matters that we are church together,” said the Rev. Heidi Torgerson-Martinez, program director for the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission.&#160;<br>&#160;<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Our Young Adults in Global Mission volunteers often find themselves deeply humbled by the ways that the ELCA rises up around them as they prepare to deploy for service. Through financial gifts, prayers, letters from Sunday school (students) at a church they’d never heard of, and a thousand other acts of faithful kindness, ELCA synods, congregations and members are wrapping our Young Adults in Global Mission volunteers in support,” said Torgerson-Martinez.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Young Adults in Global Mission program started in 1999, with eight young adults who volunteered in the United Kingdom. Since then, almost 500 young adults have traveled to locations that include Africa, Asia, Mexico, the Middle East and South America, where they volunteer 35 to 40 hours a week at a variety of placement sites including churches, schools and hospitals.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “In my faith thus far in my life, I have had moments where I feel a nudge to do something,” said Joseph Young, a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Waukegan, Ill., who is currently serving in Mexico. “I am always thinking what more can I be doing with my life? How can I contribute to the world? I believe that all of us have a moral obligation to make the world a better place.” </p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160; Although the young adult volunteers assist with the work of ELCA companions churches and organizations in the countries where they serve, what they gain from the experience is often much more valuable.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Our Young Adults in Global Mission volunteers do, without question, provide critical service in communities around the world. But what they share and receive through their experience is so much deeper than simply traveling to another country to help out,” said Torgerson-Martinez. </p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “At its core, the Young Adults in Global Mission experience is about learning to live in deep mutual relationship with others from whom the Young Adult in Global Mission volunteer is very different,” Torgerson-Martinez emphasized. “It’s about discovering what it means to hold less tightly to Western ideas of success, progress and development, and instead lean into one’s own vulnerability. It’s about seeking and finding the face of God in people and places where most would never think to look. It’s about learning how to follow Jesus, whose life and ministry were characterized by radical relationships of love,” she said.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Sarah Brock, from Zion Lutheran Church in Litchfield, Minn., is one of six young adults serving in Rwanda, where the program is in its first year. The Lutheran Church in Rwanda was established by refugees who returned to Rwanda from Tanzania where they fled to escape the genocide that killed more than 1 million people in 1994. In her Aug. 26 blog post, Brock describes meeting the congregation at Kigali Lutheran Parish.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “We didn’t look like everyone else. We didn’t speak like everyone else. We were far from home. But we didn’t feel out of place. ‘We have been waiting for you,’ said one of the men of the congregation as he shook my hand,” wrote Brock.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Brock went on to describe the words of welcome from the Rev. Evariste Mugabo, bishop of the Lutheran Church in Rwanda. </p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “He told the congregation that we had left our parents, so now they needed to be our parents. He told the youth that many of us had left behind brothers and sisters, so now they needed to be our brothers and sisters. Looking at us he said, ‘We will be your parents, your pastors, your bishop.’ As he continued his sermon, he talked about unity. He shared his excitement about building this relationship between the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the Lutheran Church of Rwanda. He addressed the six of us directly and urged us to work hard so that our time here would be a testimony to the future of this relationship,” Brock wrote.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “These (ELCA) global companions are truly stepping out in faith when they say ‘yes’ to welcoming a group of young Westerners into their midst,” said Torgerson-Martinez. “They give so freely of themselves and model a kind of hospitality that most of our Young Adults in Global Mission had never dreamed possible. Simply put, the Young Adults in Global Mission program would not be possible were it not for each of us – here and around the world – living into the call to be church together.” &#160;</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 about 4 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><br></p><p>​</p></div>09/05/2014ELCA campaign nears $25 million markhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7694http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7694<div class="ExternalClassF121D846998141148040A0E852D67272"><p>​&#160;<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Evangelica</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">l Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is celebrating the first six months of its five-year, comprehensive campaign, </span><em style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA</em><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">, with nearly $25 million raised. The amount as of July 31, 2014, includes $12.6 million for the ELCA Malaria Campaign, which is part of </span><em style="line-height&#58;1.6;">The Campaign for the ELCA</em><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">, and represents approximately 12 percent of the campaign's total goal of $198 million by Jan. 31, 2019. Approved by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the campaign seeks to raise funds to sustain and grow the ministries of the ELCA.&#160;</span></p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;People are responding to the call to give generously; they want this church and campaign to succeed,&quot; said the Rev. Ron Glusenkamp, director for the campaign. Glusenkamp joined the campaign team in mid-June. Prior to this role, he was senior pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. &quot;We're hearing from individuals, families and congregations who want to do more, together, in Jesus' name.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Making up $12.6 million of the current campaign gifts is support for the ELCA Malaria Campaign. Initiated by the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the ELCA Malaria Campaign seeks to raise $15 million by the end of 2015. Through the campaign, ELCA members have joined with companion Lutheran churches and partners in 13 African countries to prevent and treat malaria, educate communities about the disease and more.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Lutherans from across the ELCA have already demonstrated great generosity through their support of programs working to make malaria history. I know as we all come together around <em>The Campaign for the ELCA</em>, members and congregations will continue that spirit of generosity through their support of other ELCA ministries,&quot; said Jessica Nipp Hacker, ELCA Malaria Campaign coordinator. &quot;Through the ELCA Malaria Campaign, we have seen the impact we can make in the world when we work together.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In addition to the nearly $25 million in current gifts for <em>The</em> <em>Campaign for the ELCA</em>, another $4.8 million is pledged in commitments toward the campaign's goal of $198 million. With an added $1.9 million in planned gifts, $31.5 million has been committed toward campaign priorities.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;One of my favorite pieces of scripture, in all four gospels, is the story of the five loaves and two fish. Jesus receives the offering of the young boy, which the disciples question the value of, and blessed it, broke it and shared it, so that all were fed. The same is true for the campaign; Jesus is blessing what is given. With God's help, we will grow and go in our ability to meet our ministry goals,&quot; said Glusenkamp.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Through several featured priorities, <em>The Campaign for the ELCA</em> seeks to&#58;</p><ul><li>Increase the ELCA's capacity to support congregational renewal and the planting of new congregations</li><li>Form and support new lay, ordained and global leaders for mission</li><li>Encourage and form lay youth and young adult leaders</li><li>Support disability ministries</li><li>Bolster the commitment to walk with global companion churches in shared witness</li><li>Expand efforts to address poverty and hunger<br><br>Information about <em>The Campaign for the ELCA</em> is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/campaign">www.ELCA.org/campaign</a>.</li></ul><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 about 4 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>&#160;*Alix Matze is marketing communications manager for <em>The</em>&#160;<em>Campaign of the ELCA</em>.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">M</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">elissa Ramirez Cooper, Manager, Public Relation</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">s<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">773-380-2956 or </span><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/tools/secure_emailer?a=TWVsaXNzYS5SYW1pcmV6Q29vcGVyQGVsY2Eub3Jn&amp;b=TmV3cw==&amp;subject=News&amp;body=" style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> email&#160;</a><br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">ELCA News&#58; </span><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news" style="line-height&#58;1.6;">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;">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;">www.livinglutheran.com</a><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"></span></p></div>09/04/2014ELCA offers prayers for those affected by California earthquakehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7693http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7693<div class="ExternalClass5351FCA3969248649F456D3F007A9634"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) offers prayers for all those affected by the Aug. 24 earthquake that struck near Napa, Calif.&#160;&#160; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The thoughts and prayers of the Lutheran Disaster Response network are with those injured and affected by the earthquake,” said the Rev. Michael Stadie, program director for Lutheran Disaster Response. “We are monitoring the situation and standing by to provide help to the impacted communities as they begin the process of recovery.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The magnitude 6.0 earthquake injured almost 200 people and caused extensive damage to homes and businesses in Napa Valley. No deaths were reported. The earthquake was the largest to strike the Bay Area of California since a magnitude 6.9 earthquake in 1989. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Napa Valley Lutheran Church in Napa, Calif., is the only ELCA congregation in the area that has reported receiving damage in the earthquake. The Rev. Julie Webb, associate pastor, said she is aware of only one minor injury among her members and that a small group still gathered for worship Sunday morning.&#160;<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Some (members) couldn't get cars out of garages buried in fallen storage items. A few who were able to get out after the 3&#58;20 a.m. quake gathered sleepily, but gratefully, for worship in the morning and stayed to clean up,” said Webb.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Folks spent all day yesterday putting things back and sweeping up. It was heartening to hear about Lutherans who went right out on their own initiative to check on neighbors and other Lutherans. ‘God's work. Our hands,’” she said, describing the concern members had for one another.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Webb said she and other church administrators “will need to spend some time with building inspectors and insurance agents in the coming days to evaluate damage to the building.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Along with some interesting cracks in the nave, it looks like we sustained significant damage to the church’s trademark blue-cross tower – the one our Jewish neighbors from Congregation Beth Shalom (have used) when giving directions to their synagogue before they started meeting in our building last year. Rabbi Lee Bycel has already reached out to me to see how they can help us. Since their new building is almost finished, we are sure of having a place to meet if our building needs work.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Lutheran Social Services of Northern California is on standby, ready to deploy once disaster teams complete their damage assessment.&#160; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Lutheran Social Services (of Northern California) stands ready to respond as the community begins the long-term process of rebuilding,” said Carol Roberts, chief executive officer of Lutheran Social Services of Northern California. <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 about 4 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>08/25/2014Psalm speaks to unrest in Iraq, ELCA leader sayshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7692http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7692<div class="ExternalClass18525207B30945C79478553678FAD812"><p> <span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – As the 4 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) gathers for Sunday worship Aug. 17 and shares in the reading of Psalm 133, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of this church, said the Psalm &quot;reminds us of the goodness and blessing of a life lived in unity with one another.&quot;</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In an Aug. 15 letter to the church, Eaton wrote that Psalm 133 generally is &quot;an encouraging Psalm, at a time such as this, when the world seems anything but unified, these words may feel more jarring than inspiring. This is especially so now as news from Iraq continues to worsen.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; About 150,000 people have &quot;recently fled their homes in the wake of attacks from Islamic state militants and their allies. While reports indicate that the immediate threat to many of these precious lives was abated by the delivery of food and water aid, an estimated 300 people, many of them children, still perished from exposure, dehydration and starvation. Reports of attacks, atrocities and human-rights abuses, often targeted at religious minorities and other vulnerable groups cause, our hearts to cry out in lamentation rather than in the hope that this week's Psalm celebrates,&quot; she wrote.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The continued violence in part of Iraq &quot;has put at grave risk the already tenuous security situation of the entire country and diminishes the ability of Iraq's new government to lead with a strong vision of national solidarity and peace,&quot; said the presiding bishop.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Our hearts are heavy with sorrow and concern as we further mourn the violence that has come to typify the news we hear from Iraq. Many of us served or have family or friends who served as U.S. military or security personnel in Iraq or are Iraqis ourselves and are now a part of U.S. communities. The proximity of Iraq in our experience as American Christians heightens our awareness of the continued suffering and increases the depth of our distress and grief.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In what &quot;seems like an endless stream of bad news, the Holy Spirit leads us to ponder these words of the Psalmist&#58; 'How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity,'&quot; Eaton wrote.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Perhaps this Psalm, in this week when the world seems splintered and on the brink of rupture, speaks to us with special encouragement and whispers an enduring word of hope,&quot; she wrote. &quot;Our hearts may cry out in mourning, but God fills us with a desire to follow the words of the Psalmist as we pray for peace and unity. Indeed, how very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The full text of the ELCA presiding bishop's letter is available at <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Iraq_Statement.pdf">http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Iraq_Statement.pdf</a>.<br> - - -<br> About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 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, Manager, Public Relations<br> 773-380-2956 or <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/tools/secure_emailer?a=TWVsaXNzYS5SYW1pcmV6Q29vcGVyQGVsY2Eub3Jn&amp;b=TmV3cw==&amp;subject=News&amp;body="> email </a><br> ELCA News&#58; <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>08/15/2014ELCA presiding bishop urges prayer, peace amid outrage over shooting deathhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7691http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7691<div class="ExternalClass460F3BAE9E0842118EBAC3FC2353A25B"><p> <span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – In response to the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., which has triggered outrage among some area residents and others across the country, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has called for prayer and peace.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Throughout the gospels, Jesus reached out to the 'others,' those whom society deemed utterly foreign. We are at greatest risk when we divide into 'us' and 'them.' Then, we are unable to see each other's humanity,&quot; said Eaton. &quot;In Christ, there is no 'them,' not Michael Brown, not the community, not the police. All are one. All are 'us' and all are Christ's.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We pray that peace will come to Ferguson and the Brown family – peace is founded on the knowledge that in Christ, there is no 'other,' only brothers and sisters,&quot; she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In an effort to bring the community together, the Rev. Rick Brenton, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Ferguson, said thousands of local residents gathered for a peace march Aug. 14.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Last night we came together to march and reclaim the streets,&quot; said Brenton. &quot;Somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 people marched. Clergy from all over the city, from every denomination, creed and origin, came together along with youth and others to peacefully protest. We had also delivered food and toiletries items to residents of the Canfield Green Apartment complex [where police opened fire Aug. 9]. People there are afraid to leave their homes. God's people deserve better than what has been happening.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; According to Brenton, the march and outreach to residents &quot;was a collaborative effort. We came together and made a difference. It's an amazing example of God's love for us. That in Christ, God walks beside us and before us, crossing the boundaries of our lives, exercising the demons of racism, sexism, classism and ageism to bring hope, healing and new life to our community.&quot; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In an Aug. 14 pastoral letter to members and congregations of the ELCA Central States Synod, the Rev. Roger R. Gustafson, bishop of the synod, said that &quot;St. Louis' racial divisions and strife are deeply rooted and complex. Related issues – what has been called the militarization of the police, the lop-sided racial makeup of the Ferguson Police Department itself (nearly all White in a predominantly African American community), (and) a struggling local economy – intensify the conflict.&#160; Related events – store lootings, peaceful street demonstrations and a police response that has treated them alike – further poison the atmosphere.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The various elements of this painful drama carry the temptation of distracting us from an even more painful truth, one that's at the heart of it all&#58; His name was Michael Brown. He was 18 years old. He was Black, and he was killed by a police officer. Had he been White, chances are excellent that he would still be alive,&quot; wrote Gustafson. &quot;But the stark fact of Michael Brown's death under extremely unclear circumstances points our attention to a larger truth&#58; To be born male and African American in this country is to be born into a clear and present danger.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We need to talk about race and privilege, but high-level conversations between groups will take us only so far. There is no substitute for personal relationship, for connecting one to one with someone who is unlike 'us.' Such relating is not comfortable because it has not been the norm. But it is possible and necessary if we want to become more and more the people who trust in God and God's providing more than we trust in ourselves,&quot; he wrote.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; For Judith Roberts, program director for ELCA Racial Justice Ministries, the story of Michael Brown &quot;is becoming all too familiar in the headline. The shooting death of Michael Brown is another example of how young Black and Brown people are targeted in our country. They are stereotyped as a threat, treated as distrustful (and) then it becomes OK to fear them. When you mix that with law enforcement (and) racial profiling, we see the senseless death of a young man with so much promise. I hope and pray the community of Ferguson can work with law enforcement to hold them accountable in improving race relations.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;As this case moves to trial the verdict will determine how this community can move forward. Will we continue to see a justice system that does not value the life of Black and Brown bodies?&#160; The ELCA criminal justice social statement calls for an end to racial profiling, and I believe this church has a responsibility to continue to follow this story,&quot; said Roberts.<br> - - -<br> About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 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, Manager, Public Relations<br> 773-380-2956 or <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/tools/secure_emailer?a=TWVsaXNzYS5SYW1pcmV6Q29vcGVyQGVsY2Eub3Jn&amp;b=TmV3cw==&amp;subject=News&amp;body="> email </a><br> ELCA News&#58; <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>08/15/2014