ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/ELCA Church Council implements youth and young adult, disability ministries to campaignhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7706http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7706<div class="ExternalClassAC9B5DD4663A428D92C89F276396275A"><p>​&#160;<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) approved the implementation of this church's Disability Ministries and Youth and Young Adult programs into </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;">. Among its other actions, the council conferred the title of &quot;emeritus&quot; to the three former ELCA presiding bishops, elected a new member, considered budget matters, received updates, reports and more when it met here Nov. 7-10. The council serves as the ELCA's board of directors.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The council received a &quot;Youth and Young Adult Case Statement&quot; that outlines the objectives for how the ELCA will raise and expend funds as part of the campaign to &quot;cultivate young leaders, lift up the importance of diversity and inclusion, and build a robust network of support for youth and young adults.&quot; The case statement also addresses allocation of current and endowed gifts designated to this campaign priority. The campaign goal for the initiative is $4 million.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In its action, the council thanked the youth, young adults and others who prepared the case statement and affirmed the statement's objectives. The resolution the council approved was an amended substitute motion that set a goal of $2 million for the creation of a permanent endowment to support youth and young adult ministries &quot;into the future,&quot; and it set a goal of $2 million in current fund gifts to support the program.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; <em>Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA</em> seeks to raise $198 million by Jan. 31, 2019, to help sustain and grow the ministries of this church. Approved by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly and officially launched in February 2014, the nearly $200 million goal represents a 64 percent increase in designated funding.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Maren Hulden, a member of the Church Council from Minneapolis, said the council took the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly's action of recommending a youth and young adult ministries initiative to the campaign as &quot;a call to lift up the work of engaging youth and young adults as a top priority of this church.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We received a case statement put together by a group of stakeholders who consulted on how to best spend the money, which included many imaginative and creative ideas of ways funds raised could engage youth and young adults in this church,&quot; said Hulden. &quot;We wanted to put our support behind creating the capacity to undertake more of those efforts.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;One of the most exciting things about this to me is the energy for and commitment to youth and young adult ministries that the Church Council demonstrated in our extensive, lively and passionate discussion around this action,&quot; said Hulden in an interview. &quot;It was an exciting continuation of the energy at the Churchwide Assembly around youth and young adult ministry that is reflective of the commitment of this church to fully engage and include youth and young adults.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; As work on a case statement for Disability Ministries continues, the council moved to implement the program into the ELCA's comprehensive campaign and to &quot;encourage all expressions of this church to continue to consider ways to support the [campaign] in order for the ELCA to be better-positioned to do God's work in Jesus' name throughout the world for decades to come.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Through <em>The Campaign for the ELCA</em>, ELCA members are seeking to expand &quot;ministries with people living with disabilities to become an inclusive, whole community of faith by connecting and equipping members and congregations with the resources necessary to welcome all of God's people.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In other business, the council&#58;<br> + conferred the title of &quot;presiding bishop emeritus&quot; to the three former ELCA presiding bishops&#58; the Rev. Herbert W. Chilstrom, the Rev. H. George Anderson and the Rev. Mark S. Hanson. According to the Rev. W. Chris Boerger, ELCA secretary, the title will &quot;not create a new office.&quot;</p><p>+ held a conversation about the priorities of this church using an &quot;appreciative inquiry&quot; process led by the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop. In small groups, members of the council identified ministries the ELCA does well, areas in which there's &quot;room to grow&quot; and one item that &quot;we want to know.&quot; She also led this process with the ELCA Conference of Bishops when it met here in October. &quot;I am grateful that we can think together and imagine what God is calling this church to become,&quot; Eaton wrote in her report to the council.</p><p>+ approved a revised 2015 fiscal year current fund spending authorization of $69,650,020 and a revised 2015 fiscal year ELCA World Hunger spending authorization of $20,000,000.</p><p>+ acknowledged decisions from some of the ELCA's 65 synods to increase, maintain and/or decease the percentage of sharing of 2014 and 2015 Mission Support contributions (income from congregations shared with the ELCA's 65 synods and churchwide organization), and it thanked synod bishops and leaders &quot;as they strive to be faithful to shared commitments within the ELCA, and to direct synod and churchwide staff, including directors for evangelical mission, to deepen their partnership in efforts to strengthen financial support&quot; for this church.</p><p>+ approved the &quot;Private Prisons Social Criteria Investment Screen&quot; and amendments to the &quot;Environment Social Criteria Investment Screen,&quot; the &quot;Extractive Industries Issue Paper&quot; and the &quot;Military Weapons Social Criteria Investment Screen,&quot; and it affirmed the proposed succession plan in joint planning around corporate social responsibility work between the churchwide organization and Portico Benefit Services.</p><p>+ approved the amended ELCA churchwide organization personnel policies.</p><p>+ supported the special-needs retirement fund management committee's efforts to provide financial support for annuitants who are receiving at or near the minimum pension.</p><p>+ postponed until its November 2015 meeting a report and possible recommendations from the ELCA Theological Discernment Team regarding the feasibility of developing a social message on regenerative medicine, which includes, but not limited to, a range of stem-cell technologies.</p><p>+ held two &quot;committee of the whole&quot; discussions – one on the work of the Theological Education Advisory Council led by the advisory council co-chairs the Rev. Robin J. Steinke, president of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and the Rev. Herman R. Yoos III, bishop of the ELCA South Carolina Synod; and a separate discussion on new congregational development led by the Rev. Ruben Duran, ELCA director for new congregations.</p><p>+ received an update by the Lutheran World Relief president and CEO, Ambassador Daniel Speckhard (rt.), who emphasized how financial support from the ELCA through programs such as Lutheran Disaster Response and the ELCA Malaria Campaign helps &quot;sustaining change happen in the lives of families&quot; around the world. Speckhard recognized the Rev. Jessica R. Crist, bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod and chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops, and &#160;&#160;presented her with the Lutheran World Relief's Champion award.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The council received reports from executive directors of the ELCA churchwide organization's three program units&#58;</p><p>+ the Rev. Stephen Bouman, executive director for ELCA Congregational and Synodical Mission, described the ELCA's work in responding to the thousands of unaccompanied children arriving in the United States. Bouman reported on a recent trip to Texas, where he and other ELCA leaders visited shelters operated by Lutheran Social Services of the South and learned more about the process for these children after they are detained. Bouman outlined some ways in which this church will continue to respond to this crisis, including advocacy and relationships among ELCA synods, congregations and Lutheran churches in Central America and Mexico.</p><p>+ the Rev. Rafael Malpica, executive director for ELCA global mission, shared examples of how global mission is &quot;moving us toward the church that is joining together across its expressions to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ here and around the world.&quot; Highlights included this church's engagement in Russia and China, the Young Adults in Global Mission program, and &quot;glocal&quot; mission gatherings, which provide ELCA members the opportunity to address global concerns at the local level. The report also emphasized the ELCA's effort to contain the Ebola outbreak in Africa in accompaniment with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone and the Lutheran Church in Liberia.</p><p>+ received a report from Christina Jackson-Skelton, executive director for ELCA Mission Advancement, who offered &quot;bright spots&quot; in giving, which include an increase in ELCA Vision for Mission and new donors to churchwide ministries through ELCA Good Gifts. One area in which &quot;ELCA members and leaders may not be aware of is the amount of money that flows through the ELCA Foundation to support the wider ministries of this church – in 2013, it was $21 million,&quot; she told the council, adding that the total market value of the ELCA Endowment Fund Pooled Trust – Fund A is $555 million.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In her report to the council the Rev. Linda Norman, ELCA treasurer, shared that the churchwide organization's &quot;gross revenue is ahead of budget by 2 percent and that spending is at 92 percent of budget.&quot; ELCA Mission Support is on budget and tracking to achieve the $48 million income goal.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; More than 16 percent of the total campaign goal has been raised and &quot;half of the campaign (priorities) are on track to meet annual goals, bolstered by undesignated gifts,&quot; Norman said. Income for ELCA World Hunger is &quot;ahead of budget&quot; and the ELCA Malaria Campaign has now earned $13 million of its $15 million goal. ELCA members have contributed $3.3 million to Lutheran Disaster Response, she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The council elected Vernon K. Veal, Bloomington, Ill., to serve on the council, and it elected members to serve on the ELCA audit committee and boards of the National Lutheran Campus Ministry Inc., Mosaic Inc., The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa. The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and Wartburg are two of eight ELCA seminaries.<br> - - -<br> <strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;</p><p>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, 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> Candice Hill Buchbinder, Public Relations News/Media Specialist <br> 773-380-2877 or <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/tools/secure_emailer?a=Q2FuZGljZS5IaWxsQnVjaGJpbmRlckBlbGNhLm9yZw==&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></p></div>11/12/2014ELCA Malaria Campaign reaches $13 million milestonehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7705http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7705<div class="ExternalClass64D057023EEB43E18EDAB66EE5C1897D"><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and others have contributed $13 million to the ELCA Malaria Campaign in their effort 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; “Together, ELCA members and Lutherans in Africa are making malaria history,” said Jessica Nipp Hacker, ELCA Malaria Campaign coordinator. “Generous Lutherans have now given more than $13 million to the ELCA Malaria Campaign, putting us just $2 million shy of our ultimate fundraising goal of $15 million by the end of 2015. These generous gifts have funded Lutheran malaria programs that are now educating, providing critical resources and changing lives in 13 countries in Africa.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Rolled out by the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the campaign supports programs that provide mosquito nets, insecticides, medication, health care, education and more. Although malaria is preventable and treatable, each year more than 200 million people worldwide become infected with the disease and more than 600,000 people die, many of these children under 5. Ninety percent of all malaria-related deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; ELCA members’ contributions have joined a global effort focusing on a reduction of malaria-related deaths. According to the World Health Organization’s World Malaria Report 2013, between 2000 and 2012, the malaria mortality rate was reduced by 45 percent globally and by 49 percent in Africa.&#160;<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. Jon Macumi, who leads a two-point Lutheran parish in Mishiha in the province of Cankuzo, Burundi, offered this prayer during an interview with members of the ELCA Malaria Campaign last spring&#58;<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “God, most respected, we pray for the ELCA so that you keep strengthening it, and give them blessings for the work we are planning to accomplish together in this region. We thank you. And when we meet again, may we be healthy so that we can be grateful. In the name of Jesus Christ, our King. Amen.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “We are grateful for each and every one of these gifts – large and small – that have enabled communities in Africa to bring health and hope to countless households,” said Nipp Hacker. “Together, we can do more.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA Malaria Campaign is one of&#160;10 priorities of the ELCA’s five-year comprehensive campaign, <em>Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA.</em> Approved by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the campaign seeks to raise $198 million to help sustain and grow the ministries of this church.<br>&#160;Information about the ELCA Malaria Campaign is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/malaria">http&#58;//www.elca.org/malaria</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 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>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>11/04/2014ELCA presiding bishop says land occupation is counter-productive to peace, two-state solutionhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7704http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7704<div class="ExternalClass43F845A8081A4AA98AB796841424A349"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), commended the Obama administration for urging the Israeli government to &quot;reverse its recent declaration as 'state land' the estimated 988 acres in the Gush Etzion Jewish settlement bloc in the occupied West Bank.&quot;</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; As a denomination that &quot;calls for a cessation of all settlement activities and withdrawal from settlements on Palestinian territory to the 1967 boundaries,&quot; Eaton expressed hope that the administration &quot;will continue to pursue this reversal.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In her Oct. 22 letter to the U.S. president, Eaton noted that she shares the administration's concern regarding the Israeli government's &quot;reportedly recent move to advance the settlement planning process in the sensitive area of Givat Hamatos in East Jerusalem.&quot; She said the plan for the new neighborhood &quot;would cut the territorial continuity between the Palestinian neighborhoods in South Jerusalem and the future Palestinian state.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton also mentioned the recent occupation of six residential buildings in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem. This occupation &quot;is a provocative act that only serves to escalate tensions at a moment when those tensions have been high,&quot; Eaton wrote. &quot;This new occupation, the largest since 1991, could expand the settler presence by about 35 percent from the number of settlers currently in the area.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;It is deeply distressing to us that these kinds of action, which seek to create new 'facts on the ground,' continue unabated,&quot; Eaton wrote. &quot;Along with Jewish organizations like Peace Now and B'Tselem, we fully agree with your administration that such actions are counter-productive to achieving a comprehensive and sustainable peace based upon a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, where international human rights and humanitarian law are respected and upheld. … such actions reinforce despondency among the Palestinian people, limiting optimism that a political solution will be found.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton urged Obama to call all involved in the conflict to refrain from violent or provocative actions that &quot;could lead to more casualties and further exacerbate the existing barriers toward a return to negotiations and a just final status agreement that results in two viable, secure states living side-by-side in peace.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Grounded in hope, &quot;we pray that the current truce, following the recent war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, will hold so that hope might begin to be restored,&quot; the ELCA presiding bishop wrote, adding that it is imperative that, with the help of the international community, both Palestinians and Israeli leaders return to negotiations to &quot;identify and constructively address the underlying causes of continued tension, so that God's peace and justice will prevail.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The full text of Eaton's letter is available on the ELCA website at <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/ELCA_Letter_to_President_Obama_on_Israel_and_Palestine.pdf">http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/ELCA_Letter_to_President_Obama_on_Israel_and_Palestine.pdf</a>. The ELCA Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine is available at <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Engagement_Israel_PalestineSPR09.pdf">http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Engagement_Israel_PalestineSPR09.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, 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>10/24/2014ELCA members raise awareness of suicide preventionhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7703http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7703<div class="ExternalClass1700C0A1E8324638BDEF3E51318AB4B6"><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – Since they lost their daughter, Terri Ann, to suicide in 1987, Jerry and Elsie Weyrauch, members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), have been motivated to help make a difference in the lives of those who are affected by suicide. They have spent the past 27 years working to raise awareness of suicide prevention and the issues that lead to suicidal behavior.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “There are no words that you can use. You can’t make it better; you can’t make it go away,” said Jerry Weyrauch. “You have to go through things. You can’t go around or under them. You have to go through them and you have to integrate them into your life and you become a new and different person.” <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The couple, along with their four living children, vowed they would always be honest when talking about Terri Ann’s death.&#160;&#160;<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “As our family gathered for the funeral, we had a family meeting and made the very conscious decision that we were not going to be slaves to a secret and that we were going to openly and honestly tell folks that Terri died by suicide,” said Weyrauch.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; That openness about the nature of their daughter’s death inspired the Weyrauch family to advocate on behalf of other families affected by suicide. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “We want to identify survivors because many of them are like us in that when you wake up every morning you have what I call fire in the belly that is renewed each and every morning, that you’re going to do everything you can to make a difference. And that motivation in survivors of suicide is the kind of motivation we hope Christians have to follow the example of the Lord,” said Weyrauch. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “We made a commitment at that time that we were going to do all that we could to keep this from happening to other people,” he said. “And so I got involved in trying to figure out what was going on in suicide prevention.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Weyrauchs, members of Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Marietta, Ga., formed the Suicide Prevention Action Network (SPAN), a national organization of suicide survivors. These grassroots advocacy efforts eventually led to the 2001 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, a joint effort by the federal Office of the Surgeon General and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Having worked in the public sector and made an achievement there, we felt that one of the largest populations that was untouched and represented an identifiable market segment was faith communities. We decided it was time to turn to trying our attention to engage the church in suicide prevention.”&#160; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In 2010 the Weyrauchs established the Lutheran Suicide Prevention Ministry, dedicated to implementing the ELCA social messages on suicide prevention and mental illness. The ministry’s mission is to reduce the number of people who die by suicide through awareness, education and advocacy actions that reduce the stigma of suicide. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In 1999 the ELCA Church Council adopted the “Message on Suicide Prevention” as a “call to members, congregations and affiliated institutions to learn more about suicide and its prevention in their communities, to ask what they can do and to work with others to prevent suicide.” Such social messages of the ELCA are documents on specific topics adopted by the ELCA Church Council to focus attention and action on timely, pressing matters of social concern to this church and society.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Reflecting on the adoption of the social message, the Rev. Cherlyne Beck, program director for ELCA disability ministries said, “There was recognition (in 1999) that it was important for the church to be a leader in talking about a subject that is often kept secret and considered shameful. Most important, it is an opportunity to move beyond the tragic brokenness of life to the news that can bring hope.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Answering the call to learn more about suicide prevention, Community of the Living Spirit, an ELCA new-start congregation in Indianapolis, will co-host an event Nov. 8 as part of the city’s 2014 Spirit and Place Festival. The event will help shed light on the issues surrounding suicide and share ways to respond to people who may be at risk. Conversations will center on depression, addiction, suicide and mental health.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “I believe that following the example of Christ means that the church is called to be present in places of pain and despair. I can't think of a situation more painful and desperate than when someone is wrestling with whether or not to end his or her own life,” said the Rev. Carolyn Lesmeister, mission developer at Community of the Living Spirit.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The sense of isolation that happens when you or someone you love is struggling with such things can be a significant barrier to healing,” said Lesmeister. “We wanted to create a space where such things could be talked about in a way that wasn't depressing.&#160; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The church ought to be equipped to sit with people in their pain, to be present with them, to listen with love and compassion, and to speak a message of hope into the hopelessness,” she said.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Following the suicide of an ELCA pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Muncie, Ind., Jerry Weyrauch met with the associate pastor and members of the congregation. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “That just hit me in the stomach. I never thought a pastor could complete a suicide,” said Weyrauch. “No one knows what to do.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “I think very few people were prepared for it, except maybe his family and in some ways they had dealt with it for a long time, his own struggle, his turmoil,” said the Rev. William O. Gafkjen, bishop of the ELCA Indiana-Kentucky Synod. “But all the rest of us around him, I think, were really taken aback by what must have been the depths of his despair and struggle. I think on the whole we are not very well prepared.” <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Gafkjen said his role as bishop was “to come up alongside both (the associate pastor) and the family, especially his wife and the congregation, all of whom were the survivors of this.”&#160;During that time Gafkjen also met with clergy from other denominations in the area, all of whom were affected by the pastor’s suicide.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Talking with them I realized just how ill-equipped many of us in professional ministry are for dealing with this,” said Gafkjen. “And yet, truth be told, I think many of us have come into contact with a family or a person who’s been affected by suicide.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Gafkjen said honest answers about their pastor’s suicide helped the congregation of Holy Trinity in their healing process.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The first thing that occurs to me is just finding ways to be honest and open about the fact that suicide happens among people who are faithful Christians,” he said. “And that seems to open the door to a whole lot of other forms of honesty and openness about our own feelings, senses of guilt and responsibility as well as theological questions, and even honesty about our own struggles that I think we have not been good about as a church.&#160; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “It just really struck me at that time how often we kind of brush this stuff into the shadows rather than dealing with it in the light,” said Gafkjen. “And (the pastor’s) family really led the way by bringing it into the light so that we could have open and honest conversations with each other about it.&quot;<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Gafkjen emphasized that honest discussions about suicide can help the church lay the groundwork for further questions, including questions about a suicide victim’s faithfulness. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “We can’t even begin to deal with those questions until we’re just honest about the fact that this does happen and it’s not any indication of unfaithfulness or whatever,” he said. “It has much more to do with the person’s health and inner world and all of that kind of stuff that they ultimately did not have any control over.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “How can we create a community that’s more supportive and open and doesn’t see this as a salvation question?” asked Gafkjen, adding, “It’s a question of health and well-being and community.” <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “There’s a tendency to judge people who die by suicide, who attempt it, or who wrestle with suicide ideation – that they're weak or don't have enough faith in God, that if they just prayed hard enough, they wouldn't feel that way,” said Lesmeister.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “What the church can offer is a compassionate, loving, supportive community that can break through some of the isolation that is so common with depression and suicide,” she said. “People who can say, regularly, honestly, and with conviction, ‘You are beloved, by God and by us. Your presence matters, you matter. Please stay.’” <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Information and resources are available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/en/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Messages/Suicide-Prevention">http&#58;//www.elca.org/en/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Messages/Suicide-Prevention</a>.<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.</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></p><p>​</p></div>10/21/2014ELCA provides 20 seminarians with scholarshipshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7702http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7702<div class="ExternalClass0315DE02284D4FABBD18EFA10FC68747"><p>​<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has awarded 20 students attending ELCA seminaries with full-tuition or mission developer scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year through ELCA Fund for Leaders – a scholarship program that attracts men and women of promise to study at one of eight ELCA seminaries.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;As we face 4,000 clergy retirements in the next 10 years, it is ever more important that we do all we can to open the doors for these gifted individuals to come to seminary and lead our congregations,&quot; said Rachel Wind, director for the ELCA Fund for Leaders. &quot;The ELCA Fund for Leaders seeks to do just that. And we thank you for your support along the way.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Wind spoke at an Oct. 4 banquet here to honor 16 first-year seminarians who received full-tuition scholarships through ELCA Fund for Leaders and four seminarians who received mission developer scholarships.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;This evening, we celebrate the future,&quot; Christina Jackson-Skelton, executive director, ELCA Mission Advancement, said of the annual banquet attended by synod bishops, synod vice presidents, seminary presidents, churchwide ministries' leaders, donors and supporters.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We celebrate the fact that within this room we have 20 candidates for leadership who will have tremendous impact on the church,&quot; she said. &quot;Tonight, amidst conversations surrounding where the ELCA has been, we dare to venture into the future, and these individuals will be the ones to guide us there.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Students receiving full-tuition scholarships are&#58;</p><p>+ Erin Branchaud, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago </p><p>+ Cassandra Chavez, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, Calif.</p><p>+ Ellen Clough, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, S.C.</p><p>+ Justin Ferko, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio</p><p>+ Preston Fields, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago</p><p>+ Nicole Harvell, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia</p><p>+ Lauren Heywood, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia</p><p>+ Alexandra Hjerpe, Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa</p><p>+ Benjamin Hogue, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary</p><p>+ Branden Hunt, Trinity Lutheran Seminary</p><p>+ Jamie Jordan-Couch, Wartburg Theological Seminary</p><p>+ Emily Kuenker, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.</p><p>+ Joshua Parris, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary</p><p>+ Chris Schaefer, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg</p><p>+ James Vitale, Luther Seminary</p><p>+ Ariel Williams, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Students receiving mission developer scholarships are&#58;</p><p>+ Laurel Midthun, Luther Seminary</p><p>+ Kwame Pitts, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago</p><p>+ Paul Theiss, Wartburg Theological Seminary</p><p>+ Lecia White, Trinity Lutheran Seminary</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; ELCA Fund for Leaders began in 2000 with the intention of helping to support seminary students complete their studies without taking on sizeable debt. Since then, the fund has grown at a &quot;tremendous&quot; rate, &quot;allowing for hundreds of students to feel the support of the larger church as they venture into the unknown. The leap is due to the generosity of our donors,&quot; Jackson-Skelton said, who thanked guests who have made significant gifts to the ELCA Fund for Leaders.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Your generosity has sustained the ELCA Fund for Leaders and grown it to the point that it can support students at our seminaries in such a significant manner. Thank you for your gifts, and for your faith, as many of you were early supporters before the fund was up and running,&quot; she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Jackson-Skelton also acknowledged &quot;the exceptional leadership&quot; of the Rev. Eric Wester, who helped create the new ELCA Federal Chaplaincy Scholarship Endowment. This endowment – which is part of <em>Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA</em> – has been launched to raise $300,000 to support candidates for ministry who will be pursuing a federal chaplaincy ministry career path. To date the endowment has earned more than $17,000.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;This is a truly exciting initiative and an example of utilizing the overall <em>Campaign for the ELCA</em> to leverage other new and innovative programs,&quot; Jackson-Skelton said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; This academic year, the ELCA Fund for Leaders as a whole will award $1.45 million in scholarship funds to 235 students studying at all eight ELCA seminaries. This includes students who are receiving full, half or partial tuition scholarships from the general ELCA Fund for Leaders, and others receiving scholarships of varying amounts from ELCA synod partners.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Providing full-tuition support to every qualified ELCA seminarian remains the long-term goal of ELCA Fund for Leaders, Wind said. To accomplish that, the fund will need to raise a total of $300 million. &quot;At just over $44 million, we have a long ways to go, but it is clear from the commitment of many that this is not an impossible goal,&quot; she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; For example, the ELCA Fund for Leaders is poised to grow by $15 million within the next five years as part of <em>Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA</em>, allowing for around $600,000 in new scholarship money, totaling more than $2 million, to be awarded each year. &quot;Can you imagine the impact?&quot; Jackson-Skelton said. &quot;We are nearing the point where scholarships from the ELCA will touch each and every student at each seminary in the ELCA. Join us in the movement to support our future leaders. We are ready to work with your synod, your congregation, your family.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Information about the ELCA Fund for Leaders is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/fundforleaders">www.ELCA.org/fundforleaders</a> on the ELCA website.<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.<br>​<br> 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>10/13/2014ELCA bishops respond to various assembly actions, topicshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7701http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7701<div class="ExternalClass3B7A8C30925644AB92AD0F3F5B415895"><p>​&#160;<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) gathered here Oct. 2-7 to consider an array of topics ranging from this church's commitment to starting new and renewing congregations to discerning the landscape of theological education, from funding the mission and embracing a new comprehensive campaign to the assignment of more than 100 rostered candidates. Other topics included an invitation to study </span><em style="line-height&#58;1.6;">The Use of the Means of Grace</em><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">, a proposed new Word and Service roster, the 500</span><sup>th</sup><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> Anniversary of the Reformation and more.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA Conference of Bishops is an advisory body of the denomination that includes 65 synod bishops, the presiding bishop and secretary. The conference gathers at least twice a year for worship and study, mutual sharing and to conduct business. The conference chair is the Rev. Jessica R. Crist, bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; With one year in office, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop, reported to the conference that the &quot;four emphases&quot; on which she is organizing the work of the churchwide organization have &quot;resonance across this church.&quot; She said that the essential foundation for &quot;our life and work together&quot; is &quot;a clear sense that worship is at the heart of what we do together and at the heart of worship is the crucified and risen Christ.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Being clear about our confessional, theological Lutheran identity facilitates our witness to the gospel and makes possible authentic ecumenical, interreligious and secular engagement. Being church together is a manifestation of the unity we have in baptism as the body of Christ. It is an alternative to the cult of the individual that is prevalent in our culture. It is a source of strength. It is scriptural. Being church for the sake of the world is the natural extension of being church, Lutheran, church together. We get to participate in God's renewing and healing work in the world God so loves,&quot; she reported.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Of the four emphases two in particular – &quot;We are church&quot; and &quot;We are church together&quot; – are &quot;claiming my immediate attention,&quot; Eaton reported. &quot;Tending to these two things,&quot; she said, &quot;will make it possible for us to meet future challenges.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; As part of the four emphases and in the work of the church, &quot;we need to be tending our individual and corporate spiritual life,&quot; Eaton said. &quot;As a church we need to engage in basic spiritual practices – prayer, silence, corporate worship, Scripture study, giving and service. These are ways that God comes to us.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton expressed her gratitude to the conference for its ministry. &quot;I am not so far removed from synod ministry to have forgotten the unique challenges you face. I don't believe the decline of our church is inevitable. You have shown me signs of hope. Besides, it's not our church, it is Christ's church, and if it is the Lord's will that an evangelical Lutheran witness to the gospel should be raised up, nothing can stop that.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Also one year into office is the Rev. Wm Chris Boerger, ELCA secretary, who reported that 2013 congregational reports show &quot;we are a church&quot; with more than 3.8 million members. Although a decline of 2.2 percent from 2012 (or 87,000), Boerger said there are signs of hope. He said that there were 69 fewer congregations in 2012, noting one change this year is that only 16 were from disaffiliation. The remaining were either closures or mergers.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Boerger also observed that while expenses were higher than income among ELCA congregations in 2012, in 2013 income exceeded expenses due to a reduction in debt and payments on debt. &quot;From a financial perspective, our congregations are healthier,&quot; he said.&#160;Boerger also noted that Mission Support – income from congregations shared with the ELCA's 65 synods and churchwide organization – is down $2.1 million, giving to benevolences other than Mission Support is up $2.1 million.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Seven months into the 2014 fiscal year, the Rev. Linda Norman, ELCA treasurer, reported that the ELCA churchwide organization had expenses equal to operating revenue and support in current operating funds for the period ending Aug. 31, favorable to the period budget by $4.4 million but an unfavorable variance of $2.4 million compared to the seven months ending in Aug. 31, 2013.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Norman told the conference that Mission Support is the churchwide organization's largest source of unrestricted income with a revised goal of $48 million for the 2014 fiscal year. &quot;We're less than one-half percent away&quot; from meeting the goal, she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; To date, <em>Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA</em> has raised $26 million, representing 16 percent of the campaign's total goal of $198 million by Jan. 31, 2019, reported Norman. Among the campaign's priorities, strong response to date has been in the areas of the ELCA Malaria Campaign, New Congregations, ELCA Fund for Leaders, and Global Church-International Leaders&#58; Women, she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In a campaign update, the Rev. Claire S. Burkat, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, told the conference, &quot;We can do so much more together than we can do alone. We are a truly an interdependent church. A congregation can do some ministries that an individual cannot do alone. A synod can do some ministries and initiatives that a congregation cannot. Our churchwide organization can do some ministries that a synod cannot do. Our Lutheran World Federation can do some things our ELCA denomination cannot do. And, of course, our God, who by the power at work within all of us is able to accomplish far more than all we can hope for or imagine. To our God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. Ron Glusenkamp, director for the ELCA campaign, thanked synod bishops for their commitment to the campaign. &quot;It is important to communicate to you the passion that there is about the campaign. It is always being made new. It is a moment that after 25 years brings the past, the future and the present all into one thing,&quot; he said. &quot;I want you to know that I am very confident that together we will do more. We will meet and exceed our goals for the campaign,&quot; said Glusenkamp, adding that while ELCA members are engaged in what the campaign is already doing &quot;God is calling us to do more together.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In other conversation, the Conference of Bishops discussed an invitation from the ELCA Church Council to this church's 65 synods, nearly 10,000 congregations and the churchwide organization to study <em>The Use of the Means of Grace</em>. The Church Council serves as the ELCA's board of directors.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The recommended practice in this church from <em>The Use of the Means of Grace</em> is that people who are baptized are invited to receive Holy Communion. Though this is the practice set out in the ELCA statement, there is a wide variety of practice in this church.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The Church Council directed us to be in conversation about <em>The Use of the Means of Grace</em>,&quot; said Eaton.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In an August 2014 letter, Eaton and the Rev. Kevin Strickland, ELCA director for worship, wrote, &quot;The recommendation also suggests that this matter not be studied in isolation from the rest of the statement, but rather we take this opportunity to encourage a renewed study of and conversation about <em>The Use of the Means of Grace</em> in our congregations.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The council's invitation comes from an action of the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, which called the entire church to come together for a conversation and study regarding <em>The Use of the Means of Grace</em>. The conversation among bishops comes as a response to the action of the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. Resources to guide discussion are available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/worship">www.ELCA.org/worship</a>. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The conference also&#58;<br> + Received preliminary findings and some initial draft proposals from the Theological Education Advisory Council. A final report and possible recommendations are expected to be presented to the ELCA Church Council in fall 2015. The Church Council formed the advisory council to address in a holistic way issues on theological education, leadership development, candidacy, call and rostered leaders. The Rev. Herman R. Yoos III, bishop of the ELCA South Carolina Synod, and the Rev. James E. Hazelwood, bishop of the ELCA New England Synod, delivered components of the report.</p><p>+ Learned the theme of the ELCA's observation of the 500<sup>th</sup> Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 – &quot;Freed and Renewed in Christ&#58; 500 Years of God's Grace in Action.&quot; ELCA members and congregations are encouraged to participate in the observation, which will include sponsored feature events through worship, learning and service; initiate activities serving the ELCA's evangelical witness and vocation beyond 2017; collaborate with ecumenical partners and others in activities that promote a witness of the gospel; support participation in the observances planned by The Lutheran World Federation for 2015-2017 and more. The Rev. R. Guy Erwin, bishop of the ELCA Southwest California Synod, is a member of the executive planning team for the observation.</p><p>+ Received an update from the Rev. William O. Gafkjen, bishop of the ELCA Indiana-Kentucky Synod, about the work of the Word and Service task force. Formed by the Church Council, the task force is charged with exploring the possibility of forming a single ELCA roster for ministers. ELCA Secretary Boerger noted that if a single roster for ministers of Word and Service is created, significant revision will need to be made to the ELCA Constitution, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions, as well as the Constitutions for Synod and the Model Constitution for Congregations.</p><p>+ Held conversations about ELCA Mission Support and received initial recommendations of some &quot;experiments&quot; or types of pilot projects designed to address mission funding from the &quot;Think Tank on Mission Support.&quot; Appointed by Eaton, the think tank – consisting of one synod bishop representing each of the nine ELCA regions – is a collaborative group that is working towards broadening the conversation. It is expected to prepare a report with recommendations for the spring 2015 meetings of the Conference of Bishops and Church Council.</p><p>+ Offered insight to help craft a case statement for the Renewing Congregations priority of &quot;<em>Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA</em>.&quot; In 2015 the focal point of the campaign will be on congregations.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The conference also received the following reports and updates&#58;<br> + The social statement on women and justice is under development and slated to be considered by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The ELCA Task Force on Women and Justice&#58; One in Christ is leading this process, hosting listening events and preparing study materials for use throughout the church.&#160;</p><p>+&#160;A draft of a social message on gender-based violence is now available for public comment and response. The ELCA Church Council authorized the draft social message, and the tentative timeline calls for a message, or messages, to be considered by the council in April 2015.</p><p>+ Attended a prayer revival Oct. 2 to address the violence happening in Chicago and in communities around the world. The ELCA Renewal/Prayer/Revival team in partnership with the ELCA Metropolitan Chicago Synod hosted.</p><p>+ Held an educational session on voting rights. According to the Rev. Wolfgang D. Herz-Lane, bishop of the ELCA Delaware-Maryland Synod, the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly called for the conference to address this topic at its meeting and, among the resolves of its action, the assembly asked ELCA members &quot;to call on local, state and federal governments to guarantee the right to vote to all citizens and to discourage or eliminate all laws, ordinances or regulations that would have the effect of racial and ethnic discrimination in the exercise of that right.&quot;&#160; According to Herz-Lane, &quot;We're committed to help fight for equal rights in all ways of life, including voting rights, as also shared in the ELCA social statement on 'Race, Ethnicity and Culture.'&quot;</p><p>+ Greeted full tuition scholarship recipients of ELCA Fund for Leaders at a special banquet Oct. 4. ELCA Fund for Leaders is a merit-based scholarship program that attracts men and women of tremendous promise to become pastors and rostered lay leaders to study at an ELCA seminary.</p><p>+ Received an update on the Ecclesiology of a Global Church task force, which is exploring how the ELCA can affirm its self-understanding as part of The Lutheran World Federation – a global communion of 144 member churches representing more than 72 million Christians. 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; The conference also was briefed about a visit of ELCA leaders to Texas to learn more about the influx of unaccompanied and migrant children entering the United States and this church's continued response efforts; held a conversation about &quot;ready benches&quot; as a way to engage in advocacy on a variety of public policy issues; received an update from Portico Benefit Services; learned more about religious-led peace initiatives of the Peace Institute of Oslo; received an update on the ELCA Youth Gathering to take place July 15-19, 2015, in Detroit. The ELCA Multicultural Youth Leadership Event (MYLE) and the ELCA Definitely-abled Youth Leadership Event (DAYLE) are also in Detroit, July 12-15, 2015.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Synod vice presidents and presidents of the eight ELCA seminaries also participated in the ELCA Conference of Bishops meeting.<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, Manager, Public Relations<br> <span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space&#58;nowrap;">773-380-2956<a title="Call&#58; 773-380-2956" 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;"><img title="Call&#58; 773-380-2956" alt="" 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;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>​​​</p></div>10/09/2014