ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/ELCA members called to pray, stand in solidarity with Baltimore residentshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7740http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7740<div class="ExternalClass75A3924E2F2A43538A9C090DA9D744FD"><p>​<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> &#160;&#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – In an effort to stand in solidarity with residents of Baltimore as the unrest there continues, the Rev. Wolfgang D. Herz-Lane, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) Delaware-Maryland Synod based in Baltimore, is encouraging people of faith across the country to step outside their places of worship May 3 for a moment of silence and prayer.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Shortly after the death of Freddie Gray, Herz-Lane and other religious leaders of the city expressed concern over Gray's death. In a public statement they appealed to &quot;citizens of good will to remain calm&quot; and express their &quot;anger and frustration in peaceful and constructive ways.&quot; Herz-Lane chairs an ecumenical leaders group in Baltimore and is a member of the city's interfaith council, which includes Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;What religious leaders here want to get across is that what's happening in Baltimore has root causes,&quot; said Herz-Lane in an interview.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The continued challenges of poverty, race relations, unemployment and sub-standard housing (perpetuates) feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness among people here, which has then led to the despair. That is what we have seen. Preceding the rioting, there were peaceful protests – no incidence of violence until Saturday evening,&quot; said Herz-Lane. &quot;But if we don't address these root causes, then the symptoms are not going away – symptoms being mass demonstrations and rioting.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Congregations of the ELCA Delaware-Maryland Synod first stepped out of their church properties on April 26 to stand in solidarity with the family and friends of Gray, Baltimore's mayor, police commissioner, state's attorney and other city leaders and law enforcement officials.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton has called on Lutherans to pray for peace in Baltimore. &quot;Pray that God send us the courage and grace to come to grips with the root causes of this strife,&quot; she said on Twitter. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; According to Judith Roberts, program director for ELCA Racial Justice Ministries, the &quot;issue of racial injustice in Baltimore is not the problem. It is only a symptom of the deeply embedded issues of racism and classism that persist within our nation. Privilege and oppression are two sides of the same coin. As long as we have institutions, polices, practices and attitudes that benefit and provide opportunities for white people as a whole while simultaneously denying access, opportunities and resources to people of color, the wounds of racism will continue to fester. Until we come to terms that we share a linked fate and that our lives and communities are intertwined and inseparable, we can never achieve racial unity or harmony in this country.&quot;<br> - - -<br> <strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Melissa Ramirez Cooper<br> Associate director, ELCA Publications and Public Relations<br> 773-380-2956 or <a href="mailto&#58;Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org">Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org</a><br> 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>04/29/2015ELCA partners begin large-scale emergency response in Nepal http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7739http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7739<div class="ExternalClassE25C0976819541639EDF11367839A274"><p>​&#160;<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are responding to an April 25 earthquake that shook Nepal and its capital city, Kathmandu. Sections of the city's historic center lay in rubble, as aftershocks continue to rock the city valley and neighboring countries.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; News reports indicate that more than 1,000 people have died and thousands injured. The death toll is expected to rise as people are believed to be trapped under rubble. Deaths have been reported in neighboring Bangladesh, India and Tibet, and the tremor also set off an avalanche on Mount Everest.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; As news about the catastrophe continues, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton is requesting prayers &quot;for people affected by the earthquake and its aftershocks, especially as they grieve the loss of loved ones and property.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Lutheran Disaster Response is committed to long-term disaster response, so our work is just beginning,&quot; said the Rev. Daniel Rift, director for the ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal. &quot;The ELCA will accompany our brothers and sisters in the Nepal area as they navigate every part of this disaster relief and recovery process.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Lutheran World Federation&#160;<span style="font-size&#58;11pt;font-family&#58;calibri, sans-serif;">started a large-scale emergency response based in Kathmandu. Its office there has&#160;</span>escaped the worst impact of the earthquake. The ELCA is the only U.S. member church of The Lutheran World Federation.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA is working in close partnership with&#160;the ACT Alliance to coordinate response efforts – which includes the distribution of life-saving supplies such as water, food, shelter and medication for&#160;people injured – along with Lutheran World Relief and other local organizations. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director of ELCA Global Mission, remains in contact with staff of Lutheran World Relief. &quot;All but one of their Nepal&#160;staff is accounted for,&quot; he said, adding that Lutheran World Relief &quot;will be providing us with daily situation reports as together we address human need and suffering following&#160;a disaster of this magnitude.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; According to Chandran Paul Martin, consulting regional representative for South Asia, ELCA Global Mission, &quot;ELCA partners have been in contact soon after the news flashed. I had a phone conversation with Dr. Bijaya Bajracharaya, program coordinator for The Lutheran World Federation Nepal, who described the situation (after midnight, India time). She said people were on the streets in open ground as after-tremors were felt. We also tried to establish contact&#160;with the United Mission in Nepal, one of our partners, for an update.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Communication has been made with the Nepal Evangelical Lutheran Church, a member church of The Lutheran World Federation, and the Association for Theological Education in Nepal.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Information about Lutheran Disaster Response and this church's response efforts in Nepal are available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/en/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response">http&#58;//www.elca.org/en/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response</a>.<br> - - -<br> <strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Melissa Ramirez Cooper<br> Associate director, ELCA Publications and Public Relations<br> 773-380-2956 or <a href="mailto&#58;Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org">Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org</a><br> 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>04/25/2015ELCA observes World Malaria Day as it nears $15 million campaign goal http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7738http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7738<div class="ExternalClass4E53B6B56F5F42459BDCE4D79C4B7ED5"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – In observance of World Malaria Day April 25, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) commemorates the global anti-malaria effort and reaffirms the church’s commitment in helping bring an end to malaria-related deaths in Africa. Through the ELCA Malaria Campaign, ELCA members and others have contributed $13.8 million toward the campaign’s goal of raising $15 million by the end of 2015. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “We’re part of a historic moment where malaria reduction has been the focus of many organizations and governments,” said Allison Beebe, ELCA Malaria Campaign assistant. “This global effort has slashed the death rate from malaria in Africa in half since 2000 and reduced cases by 45 million per year. The ELCA, our Lutheran partners and our companion churches are all a part of this life-saving work.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA Malaria Campaign, launched by the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, joins ELCA members with companion Lutheran churches and partners in 13 African countries to prevent and treat malaria and educate communities about the disease. As a result of campaign contributions, malaria programs in eight countries have been fully funded. Five countries – Liberia, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Burundi and Namibia – still need additional support, and their programs depend on the campaign reaching its $15 million goal.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Beebe said progress in the fight against malaria is “measurable and real.” Programs supported by the campaign have educated more than 2 million people about malaria prevention and treatment. In addition, 50,000 mosquito nets have been distributed to vulnerable households, and more than 32,000 expectant mothers have received preventive malaria treatment during pregnancy.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Guided by the Holy Spirit and responding to the call to walk with our neighbors in Christ, making malaria history has captured the hearts and imaginations of faithful Lutherans across the country,” said Beebe. “Throughout the ELCA, congregations are displaying bed nets, hanging swarms of paper mosquitoes, running mosquito mile races, dressing up like insects, dancing to African music and ultimately passing the offering plate, all in hopes of contributing to malaria reduction.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; According to the World Health Organization’s latest estimates from December 2014, malaria mortality rates have fallen by 47 percent globally since 2000 and by 54 percent in the World Health Organization African region. Mortality rates among children in Africa have been reduced by an estimated 58 percent since 2000.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; As quoted in an ELCA Malaria Campaign blog post, Edulu Emmanuel, a village health team member in the Katakwi district of Uganda, said that before the anti-malaria program came to their communities, “malaria cases were rampant. People didn’t know what causes malaria, how to prevent it or even that it was treatable.” He explained that because of the training he has received, “I have been able to bring education on preventing, testing and treating malaria to the local level. Cases of malaria have reduced. This is positive change.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “I lost my firstborn child due to malaria,” remembers Ester Akiror, in another campaign blog post. Akiror now reports, “My children are healthy and they no longer fall sick. We sleep well, and they also can go to school.” She also gives thanks&#58; “I am happy because my children are no longer ill, and I can save money to feed them well. I used some of my savings for gardening. I bought a goat, and I can afford milk for the family.” <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “ELCA members have been enormously generous, and we are so grateful for their gifts and engagement,” said Beebe. “Malaria only costs about $3 to test and treat, so every dollar truly makes a difference.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA Malaria Campaign is one of the initiatives included in 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/MalariaDay">www.ELCA.org/MalariaDay</a>.</p><p>---<br><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America&#58;</strong><br>The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than&#160;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>Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</a></p></div>04/23/2015ELCA presiding bishop meets with Christian leaders in Chinahttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7737http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7737<div class="ExternalClass30404910DC894BF2B40C2E5D4AA57FB9"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – In her first visit to China, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), noted the importance of cooperation in deepening the relationship with Christians in China, and the ELCA’s methodology of “accompaniment is how we can relate.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In an April 1 meeting with the Rev. Gao Feng, president of the China Christian Council in Shanghai, Eaton said that “most American Christians and Lutherans would be surprised by the large Christian presence in China.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; According to Feng, there have been 40,000 to 50,000 baptisms each year since 2012, with a total of more than 25 million Protestant believers. “The church faces many challenges with the rapid growth we are experiencing,” he said. “The church needs to train more pastors and lay workers together with meeting social needs,” he told Eaton.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Dr. Mellisa Lin, associate general secretary of the China Christian Council and director of the council’s theological education department, told Eaton that “many young people are interested in serving as pastors, but the ability to receive all of them into our seminaries is limited. We also lack (teachers).” She said the council seeks to send student scholars to study in the United States, as well as to invite ELCA professors to teach at the council’s Nanjing Union Theological Seminary.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton, along with a group of ELCA leaders, was in China, April 1-6, 2015. The ELCA delegation met with representatives of the Shanghai Christian Council and Elder Fu Xianwei, chair of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Church in China.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Xianwei thanked the ELCA for its immediate disaster response efforts after the 2008 earthquake struck Wenchuan (Sichuan), China. He noted the ELCA’s cooperation with not just the church at the national level but also at the local level among ethnic minorities and local governments.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; From Shanghai, the ELCA delegation traveled to China’s Yunnan Province and met with various groups including the Yulong County Christian Council, the Yulong County Bible Training Center and the Lisu Cultural Association. The ELCA leaders attended Easter worship at Meile Anqi (Rock of Ages in the Lisu language) Church and participated in the dedication of this new church. The church is at the foot of a towering rock that faces the small village of Meile. Christians there are from the Lisu ethnic minority.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “In this place that was an empty place, you now see a church,” said Eaton, who offered an Easter message. “When he was lifted up, Jesus said he would draw all people to himself. We depend on you to preach the gospel here. And we promise to you, the Lisu people, that we will preach the gospel back in America. And together we can fill the promise of Jesus, who told his disciples to go to all the world to tell about the new life we have in Jesus.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Accompanying Eaton was the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director for ELCA Global Mission; Philip Lok, ELCA regional representative; Peter Shen, ELCA China consultant; Dorcas Wang, ELCA global personnel serving with the Beijing International Christian Fellowship; and the Rev. Y. Franklin Ishida, director for Asia-Pacific ministries, ELCA Global Mission.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “This visit by Bishop Eaton represents the ongoing commitment by the ELCA to accompany the Protestant church in China, both at the national and local levels,” said Ishida. “It has been a privilege for the ELCA to accompany the community in Meile in the construction of a church there. But it’s more than a simple church building; it is to be truly a people-centered place as they gather for learning, sustaining their culture and community development.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “A key focus for the ELCA is in supporting local grassroots leadership development. With a lack of pastors in the region around Meile, the impact of local training, in part assisted by the ELCA, will greatly enhance the life of the church there,” said Ishida.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The joy expressed by the people and the genuineness of the fellowship is overwhelming,” said Malpica Padilla. “Certainly we have received the abundant hospitality of the Lisu people. And that abundant hospitality needs no words because the bond of friendship transcends language. We humans find a way to express deep appreciation and love without the need for words. That is what we have experienced and received (here).”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Photos from Eaton’s trip to China are available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Living-Lutheran/Photos">www.ELCA.org/Living-Lutheran/Photos</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 &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>For information contact&#58;<br>Melissa Ramirez Cooper<br>Associate director, ELCA Publications and 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;"></a></span> or <a href="mailto&#58;Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org">Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org</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>04/22/2015Lutheran Disaster Response receives $300,000 grant for New Jersey hurricane reliefhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7736http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7736<div class="ExternalClass35EFEFBDDADD4E539FCD6C9E7341654A"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – Lutheran Disaster Response has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the American Red Cross to assist people impacted by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey. Lutheran Disaster Response is the disaster response ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The grant is an addition to a previous Red Cross grant of approximately $1.9 million to assist in Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts in New Jersey, New York and Maryland. This supplemental grant will be sent by Lutheran Disaster Response to its affiliate in New Jersey, Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Lutheran Disaster Response is pleased to continue the partnership with the American Red Cross as we assist the people of New Jersey who are recovering from Hurricane Sandy,&quot; said the Rev. Michael Stadie, program director of Lutheran Disaster Response. &quot;Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey has done an excellent job of serving the people of their state, and this grant will allow them to serve even more people.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The funds will be used in Monmouth, Ocean and Essex counties to help 116 families that have been identified by the unmet needs committees of local long-term recovery groups. Providing for unmet needs is a part of Lutheran Disaster Response's long-term recovery core component. Following disasters, people who have been affected often have needs that are not able to be met for a variety of reasons. Grants like these allow Lutheran Disaster Response affiliates to provide these people financial assistance and in-kind donations, such as furniture or appliances. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Hurricane Sandy caused some $36.8 billion in damage in New Jersey, and Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey has been responding since the storm hit the East Coast in 2012. The supplemental grant will last through 2015 and will further recovery efforts and increase the number of families that Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey is able to serve. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey is so grateful to have partners like Lutheran Disaster Response and the American Red Cross,&quot; said Beth Gebhart, executive director of fund development and the Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey Foundation. &quot;If not for the strength they bring, we would not be able to help so many New Jersey residents. While we have had success in getting people back in their homes, so many more people from New Jersey are in need of a helping hand. The impact from this recent grant will be felt across counties in New Jersey.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Lutheran Disaster Response has a long history of responding to disasters, both domestically and internationally. With a focus on long-term recovery, it is committed to working with the local communities impacted by disasters, accompanying them and providing assistance as they navigate their way through recovery.<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.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; *<em>Megan Brandsrud is program communicator for Lutheran Disaster Response.</em></p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Melissa Ramirez Cooper<br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Associate director, ELCA Publications and Public Relations<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">ELCA News&#58; www.ELCA.org/news<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Facebook&#58; www.facebook.com/Lutherans<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Living Lutheran&#58; www.livinglutheran.com</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">​</span></p></div>04/17/2015ELCA Church Council considers new mission funding approach and morehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7735http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7735<div class="ExternalClass702C7AFA1572441E85C8C7395A9F930C"><p>​<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) took action on proposals designed to examine and explore new opportunities to fund the mission of this church. The council also considered proposals on the formation of a single ELCA lay roster and more when it met here April 9-12, 2015. The council serves as the ELCA's board of directors.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton appointed in late 2013 a &quot;Mission Support Think Tank&quot; to address this church's financial resources, particularly the decline in Mission Support — income from congregations shared with the ELCA's 65 synods and churchwide organization. The council received a report from the think tank, which included recommendations presented to the council through its budget and finance committee.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In a presentation of the report to the council, the Rev. Stephen S. Talmage, bishop of the ELCA Grand Canyon Synod and a member of the think tank, said, &quot;There is a need for radically reimagining mission funding in the church. (While) there is always resistance for change, we need to give ourselves permission for doing something different.&quot; Acknowledging some of the ways in which ELCA leaders, pastors and members garner, steward and invest the financial resources of this church, Talmage said, &quot;There are things happening that give hope.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The think tank is comprised of a synod bishop from each of the ELCA's nine regions. In respect to the think tank's recommendations, the council moved to&#58;<br> + thank Eaton for initiating the think tank and receive with gratitude the think tank's report and recommendations; affirm Eaton's intent of convening a team to generate recommendations to &quot;sharpen our priorities as a church&quot; and bring clarity about &quot;what this church will do and will not do in order to serve God's mission more faithfully and effectively;&quot; and affirm the need to explore new methods of Mission Support for the benefit of the whole church.</p><p>+ report in a manner that expresses thanksgiving for all gifts received and acknowledge that &quot;uniform percentage guidelines&quot; for Mission Support are no longer appropriate for all synods. In consultation with the ELCA Conference of Bishops and Office of the Presiding Bishop, the council approved the development of a process that will result in synod-specific percentage goals for each synod no later than its April 2018 meeting. The council's budget and finance committee will monitor this process with a goal of recommending benchmarks and guidelines for synods. In this action, the council also called on support from the ELCA churchwide organization.</p><p>+ endorse the principle that multiple streams of income may be used to provide mission funding and instruct churchwide units and offices to draft a revised constitutional provision to reflect the use of multiple sources of income. The document is to be reviewed for possible amendments to the ELCA Constitutions, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions by the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.</p><p>+ request that churchwide organization staff assess current and prospective resources to assist congregations and synods in the development of multiple streams of income; develop a plan to equip rostered leaders to advocate for a renewed commitment to Mission Support; and provide at least an annual progress report to the council's budget and finance committee.</p><p>+ affirm a three-year experiment, beginning in 2016, with five synods to form a &quot;learning community&quot; to see if retaining the new and renewing ELCA grants for ministries and the total compensation for directors of evangelical mission will produce an increase in Mission Support and more effective management and oversight; provide updates to the council and request that the ELCA Office of the Treasurer provide financial analysis related to the experiment.</p><p>+ affirm a pilot project of the ELCA Mission Investment Fund to establish a financial services organization.</p><p>+ acknowledge the efforts of synods to deepen and strengthen relationships; encourage synod bishops and synod councils to discuss with congregations the financial implications of &quot;how we are church together&quot; and invite the ELCA Conference of Bishops, the council and its budget and finance committee to consider further Mission Support experiments.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In a separate action, the council approved a revised 2015 fiscal-year current fund spending authorization of $69,323,020 and a revised 2015 fiscal-year ELCA World Hunger spending authorization of $20,600,000.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The council also acknowledged decisions from some of the ELCA's 65 synods to increase, maintain and/or decrease the percentage of sharing of 2015 and 2016 Mission Support plans, 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.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In other business, the council voted to move forward on unifying the ELCA's three lay rosters – associates in ministry, deaconesses and diaconal ministers – but delay consideration of the entrance rite and related issues, a recommendation offered by the ELCA Conference of Bishops. Currently, associates in ministry are commissioned; deaconesses and diaconal ministers are consecrated. A decision will need to be made about the appropriate entrance rite for the unified roster. The council will consider a proposal on the formation of a single ELCA roster during its November 2015 meeting, and it will consider a proposal on the appropriate entrance rite and related issues during its fall 2018 meeting.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In her report to the council, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton offered insights about the &quot;holy work&quot; taking place across the church. Having just returned from China, Eaton offered highlights of her trip, which included meeting with the Chinese Christian Council and the dedication of a church on Easter. Upon the request of the Yulong County Christian Council and the village head, the ELCA contributed a portion of the cost toward building this new church. &quot;Parishioners walk two hours through the mountains to come to worship. The faithfulness of these folks is pretty remarkable,&quot; she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The council received reports from other ELCA officers and, among other actions, it&#58;<br> + received an update on <em>Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA, </em>which completed its first year with nearly $45 million raised. The amount represents 23 percent of the five-year, $198 million Jan. 31, 2019, goal<br> + extended the time for the development of an ELCA social message on gender-based violence until the council's November 2015 meeting<br> + affirmed the continued work on the document &quot;Declaration on the Way&quot; (to unity) between Lutherans and Roman Catholics<br> + offered appreciation for the ongoing work related to welcoming migrants and refugees<br> + declined to ask the nearly 10,000 ELCA congregations to end &quot;confirmation&quot; as a &quot;ritualized right&quot; of youth<br> + affirmed the resolve by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly that this church be encouraged&#160;to speak out as advocates for voting rights<br> + re-elected the Rev. Stephen Bouman as executive director for ELCA Congregational and Synodical Mission; the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla as executive director for ELCA Global Mission; and Christina Jackson-Skelton as the executive director for ELCA Mission Advancement<br> + received greetings from ecumenical guests<br> + received the ELCA Churchwide Organization Operational Plan Report for 2014<br> + elected members to the ELCA Executive Committee and to the boards of Portico Benefit Services; Augsburg Fortress, Publishers; Mission Investment Fund; Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg; Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago; and Trinity Lutheran Seminary<br> + gave &quot;thanks to God&quot; for the life and faithful service of the Rev. James R. Crumley, bishop of the former Lutheran Church in America, an ELCA predecessor church body.<br> - - -<br> <strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Melissa Ramirez Cooper<br> Associate director, ELCA Publications and Public Relations<br> 773-380-2956 or <a href="mailto&#58;Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org">Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org</a><br> 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>04/15/2015