ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/Former ELCA Youth Gathering program director receives Tom Hunstad Award http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7816http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7816<div class="ExternalClassC09557D8641C4F89831886ADE7849D93"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – Heidi Hagstrom, former program director of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Youth Gathering, was presented with the Tom Hunstad Award for Excellence in Children, Youth and Family Ministry during the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza held Feb. 4-8 in Anaheim, Calif. The annual event provides spiritual renewal, continuing education and networking opportunities for adult leaders who work in youth ministry at ELCA congregations and in other areas of the church. Six hundred and eighty leaders attended this year's Extravaganza. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Hagstrom, who currently serves as vicar of Fields of Grace Lutheran Parish in southwest Minnesota, was program director of the ELCA Youth Gathering from 1997 to 2015.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The gathering is a triennial event that brings together more than 35,000 high-school age Lutherans from across the country and overseas for faith formation, worship, fellowship and service.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The ELCA Youth Gathering looked very different in 2015 than it looked when Heidi started,&quot; said Erik Ullestad, chairperson of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network board, in a network news release. &quot;This is a testament to her adaptability, her vision, and her willingness to listen. Heidi did the unprecedented thing of having two consecutive Youth Gatherings in the same city – because God wasn't finished with New Orleans, and neither was the ELCA.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Ullestad added that Hagstrom &quot;allowed service learning to be something that all participants were expected to engage in. She also &quot;acknowledged that pre-Gathering conversations among youth groups should be more than fundraisers and packing lists – instead, she provided resources to equip youth and adults to engage in faithful conversation in the months before the Gathering.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Tom Hunstad Award is awarded annually to someone who has made a significant impact on the life of children, youth and family ministry in the ELCA. It honors the legacy of the Rev. Tom Hunstad, who helped found the ELCA Youth Ministry Network. Hunstad died of cancer in 2001. &#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>&#160;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"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</span></a><br> <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.ELCA.org/news</span></a><br> Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans</span></a><br> Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</span></a><br> <br></p><p>&#160;</p></div>02/11/2016ELCA members support those impacted by Flint water crisishttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7815http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7815<div class="ExternalClass2E524B0230EA4EFA8958F9B07D74EBDD"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – In response to the water crisis in Flint, Mich., members from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Livonia, Mich., delivered more than 3,000 gallons of donated water Jan. 31 to the congregation of Salem Lutheran Church in Flint.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;I thought it was a tremendous outpouring of love,&quot; said the Rev. Monica Villarreal, pastor of Salem. &quot;It was a wonderful expression of love that came to Flint.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We've got a little heart for Salem and what they're doing in Flint,&quot; said Kathy Weinberg, a member of Holy Trinity. &quot;We know how important it is that they stay in their community and reach out to the people.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Villarreal said including the donations from Holy Trinity, Salem has received water from 25 Michigan congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Villarreal, who was born and raised in Flint, said the city's water crisis has affected her &quot;personally as well as professionally.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;This situation has changed how I view ministry. It's changed how I view my work and role as a pastor,&quot; she said. &quot;The church must be a place of the community. The church is, in fact, the people. And when you're serving in a community that has been afflicted upon in the ways that Flint, Michigan, has, there is no boundary. The church walls explode and we become the body of Christ, the wounded body of Christ in the world.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In 2014 the city of Flint changed its water source from the city of Detroit to the Flint River. Soon after the switch, high levels of lead were found in the drinking water and local doctors began reporting elevated levels of lead in the blood of children. The health risks associated with lead exposure include damage to the nervous system, speech and language problems and poor muscle coordination. A state of emergency has been declared in Flint by both the state of Michigan and the U.S. government.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;People from all over the community come to this church to find hope, to find healing, to find peace. And now we see families come here to search for life in the form of water,&quot; said Villarreal.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The members of Salem distribute most of the donated water to residents living in the community near Salem. But the church's ministry to its neighbors doesn't end with a few gallons of donated water.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;As a pastor I can't help but think about the words we have in our baptism&#58; the waters of Christ that flow over us in our baptism and call us to work for justice and peace throughout the world. I think what we do here as the church – and that's not just Salem Lutheran Church but that's also the ELCA – is very important to our witness to people,&quot; said Villarreal. &quot;The faith community is what is holding this community together still because it's all that we have left.&quot; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Flint residents Jackie and Keith Pemberton, members of Our Risen Lord Lutheran in nearby Burton, have been involved in community efforts to help raise awareness of the water crisis, including City Council meetings and local rallies.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;I believe the Lord has a plan for us,&quot; said Jackie Pemberton. &quot;I don't know what it is, but I have seen a community that was very, very divided (now) come together. One thing we do every time we are together is pray. We have pastors from all kinds of faiths and we just thank the Lord that he's there to help us. That's what we have. I pray every day for this community. You have to. If you don't have faith, then what do you have?&quot; she asked.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; ELCA World Hunger will disburse $5,000 to the ELCA Southeast Michigan Synod to help support the immediate need for water and the food pantry at Salem.&#160;Villarreal said the funds to the food pantry will be used to purchase foods that meet the nutritional needs of children and adults with lead poisoning as recommended by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; A Feb. 1 action alert from the Rev. Amy Reumann, director, ELCA Advocacy and the Rev. Donald P. Kreiss, bishop of the ELCA Southeast Michigan Synod, states&#58; &quot;Many concerned Lutherans around the country are praying for the city and asking what else they can do to help the people of Flint.&#160;ELCA Advocacy and the Southeastern Michigan Synod&#160;are collaborating to invite you to advocate for an amendment to a bipartisan energy bill that would increase immediate relief and work towards long-term solutions for Flint. As church together, we will continue to advocate for clean water for all God's children, particularly in impoverished places or communities of color, such as Flint.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Certainly across the whole ELCA prayers are much appreciated and supported,&quot; said Villarreal. &quot;Anytime we uplift the suffering of any part of the body of Christ, we are community together and it keeps on people's hearts and minds about what is happening in the world. God is in all places in all times, so that is very important to us.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Information is available at&#160;<a href="http&#58;//www.semisynod.com/cms/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.semisynod.com/cms/</span></a>.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;</p><p>&#160;- - -</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>&#160;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"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</span></a><br> <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.ELCA.org/news</span></a><br> Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans</span></a><br> Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</span></a><br> <br></p></div>02/02/2016ELCA members pray for those affected by cuts at Lutheran Social Service of Illinoishttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7814http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7814<div class="ExternalClass852218E5E64245BF81A2A45E54BA1A4D"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) offer prayers to those impacted by program and staff reductions at Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI). On Jan. 22 the nonprofit social service agency of the three ELCA Illinois synods announced the cuts due to the state's inability to pass a budget for the past seven months.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Our hearts go out to those who lost their jobs and those they serve,&quot; said the Rev. Stephen Bouman, executive director, ELCA congregational and synodical mission. &quot;They also go out to those who make hard decisions and try to keep serving with the remaining programs with excellence and compassion. I urge this church to pray for everyone affected.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Bouman noted that the ELCA's infrastructure of social service organizations and institutions serving vulnerable people begins to erode when &quot;public servants can't even keep going the commitments that they have made to the most vulnerable.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; After a process of &quot;evaluation, planning, praying and listening&quot; the board of LSSI, which includes the three ELCA Illinois bishops, announced the reductions. Thirty programs and more than 750 staff positions are being eliminated, ending LSSI support to approximately 4,700 Illinois residents.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;After seven months, we can no longer provide services for which we aren't being paid,&quot; said Mark A. Stutrud, LSSI president and chief executive officer. &quot;We are doing this at a great cost to LSSI and those affected by our services.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The organization reports it is owed more than $6 million in government grants for services already delivered with &quot;no foreseeable prospect of prompt reimbursement.&quot; After exhausting all credit options to sustain ministry, the board took action.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;As with many expressions of the common good in Illinois, we have been placed in an untenable position by the paralysis of state government,&quot; wrote the Rev. Wayne N. Miller, bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan Chicago Synod, the Rev. S. John Roth, bishop of the ELCA Central/Southern Illinois Synod, and the Rev. Gary M. Wollersheim, bishop of the ELCA Northern Illinois Synod, in a joint statement to the synods. &quot;Our Christian faith commitment to providing the highest quality of care to the state's neediest citizens at the lowest possible cost makes us vulnerable and highly dependent upon the reliability of our partners in civic leadership.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; LSSI is the largest social service provider in the state and last year served 73,000 people through 190 programs at 85 sites across Illinois. Ministries for seniors, prisoners and their families, and people rehabilitating from drugs and alcohol were among those eliminated. Positions that support those programs were eliminated, as well as an advocacy position relating to the ELCA churchwide organization's advocacy ministry.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We want to do what we can to continue to have a voice in Springfield on behalf of those whose lives have been made harder by this budget impasse,&quot; said Bouman. &quot;A church that follows Jesus must not lose its voice in the midst of the world which God loves. Our discipleship is our individual baptismal walk, but it's also our participation in the wellbeing of our communities.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. Amy Reumann, ELCA director of advocacy, the three ELCA Illinois bishops and Bouman are in conversation on how they can collaborate to address this issue.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We encourage everyone to work and to pray in response to these developments,&quot; wrote Miller, Roth and Wollersheim to their synods. &quot;We ask you to work in your local communities and in the general society for justice, for responsible and compassionate government and for fair and universal access to health and opportunity.&quot;<br>&#160;</p><p>-&#160;- -</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>&#160;<em>*Erin Strybis is an associate editor for ELCA Mission Advancement. </em></p><p><em>&#160;</em>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"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</span></a><br> <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.ELCA.org/news</span></a><br> Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans</span></a><br> Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</span></a><br> <br></p></div>01/28/2016Lutherans, Catholics plan joint commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformationhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7813http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7813<div class="ExternalClass405A973D5D2E4F3D81A7151ACE16A533"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – Building on a path toward greater unity, The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Catholic Church will participate in a joint ecumenical commemoration of the 500<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the Reformation on Oct. 31, 2016, in Lund, Sweden.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Just as we are concluding the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we hear this hope-giving announcement about the October inauguration of the Reformation's 500<sup>th</sup> anniversary,&quot; said the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the ELCA. &quot;This remarkable, visible witness emphasizes the steps we have taken on the way to the unity for which Christ prayed. And it strengthens our hope for continuing reconciliation. Thanks be to God.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In a Jan. 25 joint press release, the LWF and the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity announced that Pope Francis; the Rev. Munib A. Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and LWF president; and the Rev. Martin Junge, LWF general secretary, will lead the ecumenical event in cooperation with the Church of Sweden and the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The LWF is a global communion of 145 churches in 98 countries worldwide. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Almost all of us remember when it would have been inconceivable for the pope to join with Lutherans, in the birthplace of The Lutheran World Federation, to commemorate the Reformation in a service of common prayer,&quot; said Eaton. &quot;Yet only months from now we will be experiencing it. Amid so much in our world that is viciously divisive, we are strengthened by this<br> gentle example of healing.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;This special announcement shows that Lutherans and Catholics together are shaping a new narrative for the next 500 years of our Christian witness,&quot; said Kathryn M. Lohre, executive for ELCA ecumenical and inter-religious relations. &quot;It invites all Lutherans to consider together with our Catholic sisters and brothers the opportunities for visible unity and joint witness in each local context.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; According to the joint release, the Oct. 31 event will highlight the solid ecumenical developments between Catholics and Lutherans and the joint gifts received through dialogue. The event will include a common worship based on the recently published Catholic-Lutheran &quot;Common Prayer&quot; liturgical guide. The guide is intended to help congregations commemorate the anniversary together and is based on the study document &quot;From Conflict to Communion&#58; Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017.&quot; The document features the themes of thanksgiving, repentance and commitment to common witness with the aim of expressing the gifts of the Reformation and asking forgiveness for the division that followed theological disputes.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The LWF is approaching the Reformation anniversary in a spirit of ecumenical accountability,&quot; said Junge in the release. &quot;I'm carried by the profound conviction that by working towards reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics, we are working towards justice, peace and reconciliation in a world torn apart by conflict and violence.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; A significant outcome of the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue in the United States and internationally is the &quot;Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification&quot;<em> </em>(JDDJ), signed in 1999 in Augsburg, Germany. With the JDDJ, the LWF and the Catholic Church agreed to a common understanding of the doctrine of justification and declared that certain 16th century condemnations of each other no longer apply.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; To help ELCA members prepare for the observance of the 500<sup>th</sup> anniversary, the ELCA will host its first Grace Gathering Aug. 10-13 in partnership with the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans. The assembly and gathering will meet under the theme &quot;Freed and Renewed in Christ, 500 years of God's Grace in Action.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Participants to the 2016 Grace Gathering will have an opportunity to attend assembly workshops and presentations and be introduced to resources designed to help prepare for local and regional observances of the anniversary.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;In the ELCA, we have many efforts to observe '500 Years of God's Grace in Action' that honor and deepen our yearning for Christian unity,&quot; said Eaton. &quot;I encourage all our communities to seek ways to live out and continue these new possibilities for joint witness in their own settings – for truly here God's Spirit is at work.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Information about the ELCA's observance of the 500<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the Reformation is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca500.org/"><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.ELCA500.org</span></a>.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Information about the ELCA Grace Gathering is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/gracegathering"><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.ELCA.org/gracegathering</span></a>. </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>&#160;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"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</span></a><br> <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.ELCA.org/news</span></a><br> Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans</span></a><br> Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</span></a><br> <br></p><p>&#160;</p></div>01/25/2016ELCA presiding bishop urges church to have ‘difficult conversations’ around racismhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7812http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7812<div class="ExternalClass8A1406B73C6C44DE8C773CBD77FCADC2"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has called on its 3.7 million members to &quot;be the church that models for the rest of this country what it means to have these difficult conversations&quot; about racial inequality. Eaton made her remarks during a Jan. 14 live webcast, &quot;Confronting Racism&#58; A Holy Yearning.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton and co-host William B. Horne, a member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Clearwater, Fla., presented the one-hour webcast, which addressed the complexities and implications of racism in the context of the criminal justice system. This was the ELCA's second webcast focused on racism.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Joining Eaton and Horne for the one-hour conversation were&#58; Judge Yolanda Tanner, an ELCA member who serves as an associate judge for the Baltimore City Circuit Court; Leonard Duncan, an ELCA member and student at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia; and Charlene Guiliani, an ELCA member and former police sergeant who is a student at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; During the webcast Duncan, Guiliani and Tanner shared their experiences and careers in the criminal justice system. A portion of the webcast was also dedicated to answering questions submitted via email, Facebook and Twitter. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton said that, although the webcast &quot;serves as a way to keep the conversation going, it provides an opportunity for members and congregations to go deeper in our listening and in building relationships. We must commit to looking for ways to continue the conversation in our own congregations and communities.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;But it's not going to work if we don't, if you don't, if all of us don't see that we are inextricably bound to each other, and as Paul says, 'When one member suffers, all suffer and when one rejoices, all rejoice.' When we can see that our story is the same and intertwined with everyone else's story, and, more to the point, that it's God story for us, then I think we might see not only the urgency but the beauty and holiness of this moment in time,&quot; she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &#160;&quot;Why can't the ELCA be the church that models for the rest of this country what it means to have these difficult conversations?&quot; Eaton asked. &quot;And trusting in our baptism, also believe and understand that we will never be snatched from Christ's hand. I challenge us to do that.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The webcast and resources about this church's ongoing racial justice work are available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/webcast"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">ELCA.org/webcast</span></a>.</p><p><br>&#160;-&#160;- -</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>&#160;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"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</span></a><br> <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.ELCA.org/news</span></a><br> Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans</span></a><br> Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</span></a><br> <br></p><p>&#160;</p><p>&#160;</p></div>01/20/2016ELCA receives $1 million grant from Lilly Endowmenthttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7811http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7811<div class="ExternalClass7EAB3CB8DA7746138288EF0AF8A19026"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has received a $1 million grant as part of Lilly Endowment Inc.'s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. The endowment is giving a total of $28 million through this initiative, which supports religious organizations across the country as they address the financial and economic struggles that often impair the ability of pastors to lead congregations effectively.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Concern for the financial well-being of rostered leaders was increased by the concerns about the growing debt load of Master of Divinity graduates who were about to begin their ministry in the ELCA,&quot; said the Rev. Wyvetta Bullock, ELCA assistant to the bishop and executive for administration. &quot;Subsequently, it became clear that all ELCA rostered leaders, the congregations which call them and the members who are served, could benefit from renewed attention to financial literacy and stewardship.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The churchwide organization will use the grant to create a variety of initiatives called &quot;Resourceful Servants&#58;&#160;Renewing the Economy of Pastoral Leadership.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; According to Bullock, the initiatives will focus on several areas&#58;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; + improving the financial literacy and subsequent financial practices of rostered leaders and congregations.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; +addressing the two primary financial concerns raised by ELCA pastors – increased emergency savings and retirement savings. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; +strengthening fundraising capacity for future rostered leaders through the ELCA's Fund for Leaders. 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.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA initiatives are a partnership between the churchwide organization, ELCA Mission Investment Fund, Portico Benefits Services and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota.&#160;ELCA Mission Investment Fund is the church's lending ministry, and Portico provides benefits and services to enhance the well-being of ELCA rostered leaders and lay employees.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA is one of 27 organizations taking part in the Lilly initiative representing a variety of Christian traditions. The denominations include Baptist, Catholic, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of God (Anderson), Episcopal, Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed and Wesleyan churches, as well as non-denominational, and historic African American Christian communities.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The grants are part of the Lilly Endowment's commitment to supporting the pastoral leadership development of clergy serving in congregations across the United States. Each program is customized to the needs of pastoral leaders in each religious tradition.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Pastors, especially those just beginning in ministry, accept low salaries as part of their commitment to God and to church. Many enter ministry with significant debt from their undergraduate and seminary years and often have little financial resiliency when financial emergencies arise,&quot; said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the endowment. &quot;These organizations understand the importance of the financial wellbeing of pastors and the implications for the congregations they serve.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; An additional grant to the Indianapolis Center for Congregations will establish a coordination program for the initiative that will help the endowment track success. It will bring together leaders of the diverse programs to foster mutual learning and support and help build a network of organizations committed to supporting the financial wellbeing of pastors and their congregations.</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>&#160;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"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</span></a><br> <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.ELCA.org/news</span></a><br> Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans</span></a><br> Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</span></a><br> <br></p></div>01/20/2016