ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/ELCA presiding bishop leads delegation to London, Geneva and Romehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7724http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7724<div class="ExternalClassE9336D53D8BB40C89B1F682823D6FFFF"><p>​<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – In an endeavor to learn, share and deepen dialogue with Christian partners around the world, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), led a delegation of ELCA leaders Feb. 1-13, 2015, to meet with religious leaders in London, Geneva and Rome.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Our pilgrimage to Canterbury, Geneva and Rome gave me a sense of the breadth of the church. The Anglican Communion, The Lutheran World Federation, World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church span the globe and, in their history and tradition, span the centuries. The church is catholic – small c – and the ELCA is part of that,&quot; said Eaton.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;While we should be mindful of our context in North America, and while we should be able to engage our particular culture, we should remember that the way we tend the gospel treasure entrusted to this part of the church has implications for the rest of the church. It's not just about us. It's not just about now,&quot; she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; ELCA leaders who participated in the journey led by Eaton are the Rev. Conrad Selnick, vice president for advancement and church relations, Bexley Seabury Seminary Federation; the Rev. Donald P. Kreiss, bishop of the ELCA Southeast Michigan Synod and chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops' ecumenical and inter-religious relations liaison committee; the Rev. Patricia J. Lull, bishop of the ELCA Saint Paul Area Synod; the Rev. Elizabeth Ekdale and the Rev. William E. Flippin Jr., members of the ELCA Church Council; Kathryn Lohre, executive for ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations; and the Rev. Donald McCoid, director for ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations.<br> <br> <strong>Visits in London</strong><br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In London, the ELCA delegation met with Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury of the Church of England at Lambeth Palace. The delegation visited the Church House – headquarters of the Church of England – and met with staff of the Anglican Consultative Council, which facilitates the cooperative work of the church of the Anglican Communion.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We found the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to be a highly relational leader, who had a good pulse on the challenges in the church and in society,&quot; said McCoid.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The archbishop &quot;welcomed us into his public drawing room for conversation, which included everything from the progress of Lutheran-Anglican dialogue to the global witness of Pope Francis,&quot; said Ekdale. Members of the delegation &quot;were delighted that [we] had the opportunity to describe the challenges we face in our ministries and ask the archbishop a question,&quot; she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Knowing of his passion for spiritual renewal and prayer, I asked him if he would recommend a spiritual practice to ELCA members to help us grow in our faith lives. His simple yet profound answer surprised us all. 'Start where people are, not where you think they should be,' he shared. 'And, if they are interested in contemplative prayer or adoration of the sacrament, encourage them to explore this devotion which will help them grow.' We all agreed that starting where people are was a helpful reminder,&quot; said Ekdale.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Anglicans and Lutherans have been involved in close dialogue since their distinctive denominations emerged at the time of the Reformation,&quot; said Selnick.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In 2017, ELCA members and Lutherans around the world will observe the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.</p><p> <strong>Visits in Geneva</strong><br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In Geneva, the ELCA delegation met with General Secretary Martin Junge and staff of The Lutheran World Federation, a global communion of 144 churches representing more than 70 million Christians in 79 countries. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States. The delegation met with Deputy General Secretary Georges Lemopoulos and staff of the World Council of Churches. Conversation topics with the communion and council included ecumenical and interreligious dialogues, relief and development work, faith, mission and more. The delegation also met with Dr. Ioan Sauca, associate general secretary and director of the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey of the World Council of Churches.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Our partners at the World Council of Churches summarized an important learning when describing how at the first World Council of Churches assembly in 1948 the commitment of the churches was 'to stay together,' whereas in 2013 it was 'to move together.' In that moment, I realized that our pilgrimage was at once an example of and a metaphor for contemporary ecumenism&#58; Together with our partners we are a band of pilgrims who are committed to be 'on the way to unity' in Christ, taking both concrete and contemplative steps,&quot; said Lohre.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Through each encounter, we can [strive] to a deeper understanding of how we as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are part of a global communion that witnesses to the gospel and serves our neighbors,&quot; said Lohre. &quot;The questions asked and stories shared by the pastors and bishops in our delegation helped us to make critical connections between the local, regional, national and global contexts in which we live out our vocation as church.&quot;</p><p>&#160;<strong>Visits in Rome</strong><br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Visits in Rome included meetings with Monsignor Matthias Turk, Cardinal Kurt Koch (president) and Bishop Brian Farrell LC (secretary) of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Cardinal Marc Armand Ouellet, prefect, Congregation for Bishops in The Roman Curia; and with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (Cardinal Tauran announced from the balcony the election of Pope Francis). Members of the ELCA delegation also participated in a general audience with Pope Francis.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;At the Vatican, our meeting with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity was highly productive. We shared our work on how we are introducing 'From Conflict to Communion,' as well as our work on a 'Declaration on the Way (to Unity).' There was strong interest by the Council in what the ELCA and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is developing. As we approach 2017, agreements on the church, ministry, and the Eucharist are seen as a contribution after 50 years of dialogue,&quot; said McCoid.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Being able to address Pope Francis was a highlight. After some cardinals and Catholic bishops went to the pope, Pope Francis came downstairs to greet a few persons. The first person to be greeted was Bishop Eaton. It was a very moving time to see his warm greeting and exchange,&quot; he said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;A highlight for me was when I mentioned our commitment to ecumenical cooperation and our appreciation for his example and encouragement to work on the unity of Christ's followers. Pope Francis reached out and gently patted my arm with a warm smile and simply said 'God bless you.' We are blessed by Pope Francis,&quot; said McCoid.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In speaking about the 2015 Ecumenical Journey, Lohre called the pilgrimage &quot;a remarkable opportunity to deepen our understanding of and commitments to our ecumenical partners.&quot; She added that, &quot;As pilgrims to some of the most significant global communions, we discovered more deeply who we are as Lutherans and at the same received fresh insights and ideas for our common witness and service. Opportunities for worship and prayer in each context helped us to experience our unity in diversity and spiritually enriched us for the journey.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;I was particularly impressed by praying with each of the groups with which we met,&quot; said Lull. &quot;From a prayer for our wellbeing with the archbishop of Canterbury to prayers for those who are vulnerable in our world with the Community of Saint Egidio in Rome, I was reminded on this pilgrimage that we are a living church. This was a prayer-led time and I come home moved and renewed by that.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We experienced, in each place, an emphasis on religious formation in developing authentic grassroots leaders of faith,&quot; said Flippin.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;This journey helped me remember (what I had read about in church history classes) and to know (through the privilege of being there) the depth and breadth of the Christian tradition that we are a part as the ELCA,&quot; said Kreiss. &quot;I was moved by the faithful witness we encountered in each place we visited, and by the passion for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ demonstrated in local communities -- though both the witness and the passion looked different in different places. And I was grateful for the hospitality we were offered in each place, where we were welcomed as fellow Christians, and as pilgrims on a journey.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; For photos of the 2015 Ecumenical Journey, visit <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</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="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>02/25/2015ELCA presiding bishop offers condolences to Coptic Orthodox Diocesehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7723http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7723<div class="ExternalClass09CBDEE99C8D415890EBF4DFD9FDD6AD"><p>​<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Rev. Elizabeth&#160;Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), expressed her condolences and offered support and prayer to the &quot;Coptic Church family&quot; following the news of the martyrdom of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya at the hands of ISIS terrorists.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;May they find eternal rest, and may their loved ones experience God's comfort and peace in this time of mourning,&quot; wrote Eaton in a Feb. 19 letter to His Grace Bishop Serapion of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Even in the brutality of their tragic deaths, they remained steadfast witnesses to Jesus Christ in a world consumed with hatred and violence,&quot; she said. &quot;It is important that we remember the powerful sacrifices our brothers and sisters in the faith make daily for the sake of the gospel.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Pope Francis has described the challenge before us as 'the ecumenism of blood.' Twenty-one new brothers have been added to this great cloud of witnesses, and we mourn,&quot; wrote Eaton, who recently returned from a two-week ecumenical pilgrimage, which included a visit to Rome.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will continue to hold these martyrs in our prayers, even as we ask God to redeem those who have fallen prey to the evils of terrorism. We will also pray for those in your community in the United States and worldwide who live in fear and despair. We will lift you up to God, asking for your continued strength and wisdom, as you lead God's people in this time of turmoil,&quot; Eaton wrote.<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="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><br></p></div>02/20/2015ELCA youth workers gather for renewal, education and connectionhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7722http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7722<div class="ExternalClass37B998A7BA63498B956C761115DC714C"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – Seeking to renew and revitalize their ministry, youth and family workers from across the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) gathered in Detroit Jan. 30 – Feb. 2 for the ELCA Youth Ministry Network’s 19th-annual Extravaganza.&#160;<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Extravaganza helps to renew and re-energize my ministry by giving me some time away to think about work without actually doing work,” said Kristen Baltrum, director of Cross-Generational Ministry at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Longmont, Colo. “I am allowed the space to step back, evaluate, get new ideas and a fresh perspective, as well as be exposed to ideas and resources that never actually crossed my mind.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Through “renewal, education and connection,” the ELCA Youth Ministry Network aims to empower adult leaders who work in youth ministry at ELCA congregations and in other areas of the church. Baltrum said that, although Extravaganza provides this renewal through worship and workshop sessions, it’s primarily the “opportunity to reconnect with friends and colleagues” that provides the biggest boost. “It’s the holy ground of relationship that makes this a do-not-miss event,” said Baltrum.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “This is a profoundly unique event. This doesn’t exist anywhere else in the life of our church or in the broader spectrum of the church universal,” said the Rev. Scott Maxwell-Doherty, campus pastor at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Extravaganza team leader. “First-time (attendees) wander in and the overwhelming response is ‘all of this is just for me?’ Yes, the entirety of this event is for those individuals who pay attention to the first third of life’s faith journey.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. Jonathan Hemphill, lead pastor and founder of Another Level Ministries, an ELCA new start ministry in Gardena, Calif., said serving in ministry “can often be isolating even though you are surrounded with people. The Extravaganza is people who experience, maybe not my same context, but my similar struggle. We can lament, share, exchange ideas and be transformed through worship together.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; This year’s Extravaganza brought together more than 1,000 participants under the theme “Story&#58; God’s, Ours, Yours, Mine,” which focused on how God's story is interconnected with the story happening in people’s lives today.&#160;<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “One of the things we know about children, youth and family ministry is that there really needs to be an increased capacity to tell your faith story, to tell that Jesus story in some unique and resilient ways,” said Maxwell-Doherty. “As the church is striving to continue being relevant, part of what drives that is a unique expression, a convincing and compelling story, and not just, OK, we’re going to tell the Sunday school-style Jesus story yet again. We want to be able to equip people with the capacity to look deeply at their own faith story and how they share that in a broader community. And then how do they teach young people with whom they work those particular and unique skills?”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Baltrum said she brought back to her congregation “a sense of what I still need to learn, what I am passionate about, and what I am not so passionate about. I am bringing back tools for the ELCA Youth Gathering this summer. I am bringing back the best kind of exhaustion possible – the one that comes from a weekend where I have been all-in.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Maxwell-Doherty said another important aspect of Extravaganza is the opportunity for youth and family ministry workers to discover they share common experiences, sometimes even burnout.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “One of the things that consistently happens is that some folks who are at a place of burnout come to the Extravaganza and they find in the room 100 or more people who are at the same place. And in those conversations, somehow the volume gets turned, or the direction gets turned differently and they find it a place of restoration and hope and deep collegiality. (They discover) they are not alone in doing what they’re doing and struggling with what they’re struggling with.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Maxwell-Doherty said many attendees continue these connections and conversations long after the event comes to a close, “chatting with each other in order to not sink but rather be restored in our ministry and move forward.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “I believe my greatest connections are (with) those in the trenches with me, and I have wonderful colleagues and a whole cadre of connections at the Extravaganza.” said Hemphill. “They are real and rewarding.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Extravaganza has been a place to celebrate all the amazing things that God does in, through, and in spite of me,” said Baltrum.<br>&#160;Information about the ELCA Youth Ministry Network is available at <a href="http&#58;//elcaymnet.org/">http&#58;//elcaymnet.org/</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 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>02/16/2015ELCA presiding bishop visits companion church in the Holy Landhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7721http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7721<div class="ExternalClass7B3BCF7CAC814D9DAF2C54478EB7CBBC"><p>​<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – In her first visit to the Middle East as presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton led a delegation Jan. 11-17 to meet with leaders and members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land – a companion church of the ELCA. The delegation also met with political and religious leaders, including a meeting with the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) are member churches of The Lutheran World Federation, a global communion of 144 churches representing more than 70 million Christians in 79 countries. 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; During their visit, the delegation met with students of the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour and Dar Al-Kalima Lutheran School in Bethlehem. The school and educational programs of the ELCJHL employ nearly 200 educators, administrators, social workers and others, and nearly all faculty and staff are Palestinians from Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jerusalem and elsewhere. The delegation visited Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem, and they toured the Environmental Education Center in Beit Jala, a ministry of the ELCJHL, to learn more about the denomination's special ecological projects.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The impact of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land upon the lives of all people in the region is out of proportion to its size. This relatively small church does enormous work in education, humanitarian aid, environmental study, advocacy, ecumenical and inter- religious relations and peacemaking all while dealing with the difficult and ever present reality of the Israeli occupation,&quot; said Eaton.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;This land has a unique beauty&#58; green and gentle in Galilee, severe and barren in the mountains and hills around Jerusalem and the West Bank. It wasn't what I expected the first time I saw it. It made me aware of all of the preconceptions I bring with me to this place. That is a dangerous thing to do,&quot; she said. This trip marks Eaton's third visit to the Middle East, first as ELCA presiding bishop.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The delegation visited the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem and also toured Augusta Victoria Hospital, a ministry of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF). The hospital offers the only cancer facility for residents of the West Bank and Gaza, and it employs more than 300 people. The hospital was founded in 1950. Dr. Tawfiq Nasser, the hospital's chief executive officer, and the Rev. Mark Brown, LWF regional representative in Jerusalem, accompanied Eaton on the hospital tour.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Augusta Victoria Hospital is a vital ministry&quot; said Eaton. &quot;It is something that The Lutheran World Federation and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are committed to supporting, have been, are now and always will be.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We were very honored by the visit of Bishop Eaton and her delegation,&quot; said the Rev. Munib Younan, bishop of the ELCJHL and president of The Lutheran World Federation. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We arranged a program where she could meet all concerned parties, all ecumenical parties, representatives from all of the Abrahamic faiths, and the work of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and The Lutheran World Federation in Jerusalem. Through her visit, this accompaniment relationship that started in 1988 was strengthened even more. It has helped us to see that we both in the ELCJHL and ELCA have been called together for a common mission for the love of God in the Middle East and the United States,&quot; said Younan.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA delegation met with representatives of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land – established in 2005 to ensure the ongoing engagement of the leadership and representation of the official religious institutions of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith communities in the Holy Land.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In addition to the council, the delegation met with Patriarch Theophilos III, the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem; Patriarch Fouad Twal, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church and Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem; and Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, Patriarch of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton and others from her delegation met with Palestinian Authority officials, the mayor of Bethlehem, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior, Israeli deputy foreign minister officials, the U.S. Consul General and others.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton addressed a gathering of ELCJHL pastors and the denomination's Church Council. The relationship between the ELCJHL and ELCA &quot;is deeply important to us,&quot; she said, adding that she sees hope for the land through the ministries of ELCJHL. &quot;When I think of people, Christian brothers and sisters, who are in situations that seem hopeless and they have hope, they give me hope. This church is a source of hope for me when I think there can be no hope,&quot; she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Images of the ELCA delegation's visit are available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Living-Lutheran/Photos">http&#58;//www.elca.org/Living-Lutheran/Photos</a>.</p><p> <strong>Renewing efforts for a two-state peace agreement</strong><br><strong> </strong>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In a Jan. 21 letter to President Obama, members of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East urged the president – in coordination with the Quartet (the United Nations, United States, the European Union and Russia) – to work with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to renew efforts and achieve a negotiated two-state peace agreement &quot;before it is too late.&quot; Eaton is among the Christian, Jewish and Muslim endorsers of the letter.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In their letter, the religious leaders wrote that &quot;the Gaza war demonstrated once again that there is no military solution to the conflict&quot; and &quot;given developments on the ground, including dangerous new violent clashes in Jerusalem, simply urging the parties to return to negotiations is no longer sufficient.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The leaders said that &quot;the outline for a two-state peace agreement is widely known and would likely be accepted by majorities of Israelis and Palestinians if presented by their leaders as the only viable alternative to more violence and war.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The leaders urged the president to authorize U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry – coordinating with the Quartet and &quot;drawing on internationally accepted principles and practical ideas from previous official and informal negotiations&quot; – to offer a balanced and fair framework to the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority as the basis for negotiating a two-state peace agreement to end conflict. Religious leaders also offered to meet with Kerry to discuss ways they can be helpful.<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&#160;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>01/27/2015ELCA response to Ebola outbreak totals $275,000http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7720http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7720<div class="ExternalClass4BA54BF201714459906E4BAE714851B6"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – Since the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has provided $275,000 to support the work of Lutheran companion churches in both African countries. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The funds were disbursed through Lutheran Disaster Response International to ELCA companion churches and partners responding to the immediate needs of people impacted by the disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 8,500 people have died due to Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “There are some signs the situation in Liberia and Sierra Leone is getting better, (but) Ebola is more than just a health crisis. Ebola also has a devastating impact on the livelihoods in Liberia and Sierra Leone,” said Vitaly Vorona, ELCA program director for Lutheran Disaster Response International. “Women and children are particularly vulnerable.” <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “One of my proudest moments as a Lutheran came when Mrs. Roselyn Kawah, (chairperson) of a concerned women group in Monrovia, enthusiastically expressed her gratitude to the Lutheran Church at a presentation ceremony a few weeks ago,” said the Rev. Jensen Seyenkulo, bishop of the Lutheran Church in Liberia. “Mrs. Kawah spoke of the enormous challenges the country faces and how the Lutheran Church has been a shining ray of light in this bleak situation.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Although we still have the aftermath of Ebola to deal with, there are very few new cases in Liberia today,” said Seyenkulo. “Liberians have learned a lot. Even these improvements can partly be attributed to our partners' accompaniment. We are grateful, very grateful.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA has responded in the following areas&#58;<br>+$10,000 helped cover air-freight costs for Global Health Ministries to ship personal protective equipment to Monrovia. This was at the request of the Lutheran Church in Liberia. Global Health Ministries provides medical supplies and funding for health care programs in Lutheran churches in 20 countries.<br>+$85,000 to the Lutheran Church in Liberia provided food assistance of oil, rice and fish to nearly 3,000 households in six territorial areas. Food supplies were necessary because many areas were under quarantine in an effort to contain the spread of the Ebola virus.<br>+$50,000 to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone provided oil, rice and fish to 4,750 individuals who were under quarantine.<br>+$50,000 to Lutheran Development Service in Liberia to help raise awareness and share messages about Ebola symptoms and prevention methods to 4,500 individuals in Liberia. The funds also provided for a contractor to ensure that the construction of an isolation center at Phebe Hospital and the School of Nursing meets WHO standards. Phebe Hospital is a Lutheran hospital and is the largest public health institution in Liberia.<br>+$80,000 to the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone to support the prevention of the Ebola virus in two districts and 180 communities through various activities, including&#160; awareness and distribution of bleach and water containers.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Vorona said moving forward Lutheran Disaster Response will “shift its major Ebola efforts from immediate response to primary attention to recovery needs.” <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; He said the ELCA will provide $146,500 to support the following programs&#58;<br>+Strengthening health systems in Liberia and Sierra Leone as an essential component of an ELCA long-term strategy<br>+Support to orphans and youth affected by Ebola in Liberia<br>+Promotion of proper hygiene and safe drinking water in Sierra Leone<br>+Income generation and job creation in Liberia and Sierra Leone<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Lutheran Disaster Response provides assistance to survivors of natural disasters and humanitarian crises throughout the world. This support is carried out, both domestically and internationally, in coordination with local affiliates – social ministry organizations, agencies, partners and international companion churches – located in the disaster-affected communities.</p><p>- - -<br><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America&#58;</strong><br>The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &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>01/20/2015ELCA provides assistance for unaccompanied minorshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7719http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7719<div class="ExternalClass06C5B7DC205C49A8B1D398376ECC8FA4"><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; ​CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) provided nearly $400,000 in humanitarian assistance to help support ELCA partners who serve the thousands of unaccompanied minors coming to the United States from countries in Central America. The funds were disbursed through Lutheran Disaster Response to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and Lutheran Social Services of the South. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Although the number of children coming to this country has decreased, they are still coming. Our grants to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and Lutheran Social Services of the South will help address the unmet needs of the children that are not covered by the government, as well as help encourage congregations and individuals to also address these needs,” said the Rev. Michael Stadie, program director for the ELCA’s Lutheran Disaster Response U.S.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Based in Baltimore, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service works with the U.S. Office of Refugee Settlement to help place unaccompanied children in foster care. The ELCA funds will help provide for planning among Lutheran partners in the United States and Central America, training materials for potential foster families, the development of welcome centers offering hospitality and support to families and others released from immigration detention centers, advocacy and strategic communications and national coordination. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “One of the untold stories of what the media called the border crisis was that Lutherans were already on the scene. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and our partners have been helping unaccompanied children and families seeking refuge for decades,” said Linda Hartke, president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “When the number of children and families (arriving in the United States) increased to unprecedented levels, we worked proactively to address programmatic and advocacy needs. The generous grant from ELCA's Lutheran Disaster Response enables Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service to extend critical protections and services and to engage more volunteers. Most of all, the grant demonstrates that Lutherans are in this for the long haul. If even one unaccompanied child is in need of refuge, we will be there,” said Hartke.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Lutheran Social Services of the South, based in Austin, Texas, provides emergency shelter for hundreds of unaccompanied children in south Texas each month. The activities supported by the ELCA funds include the expansion of emergency shelters, the first-year salary and expenses for a local project manager, administrative overhead and program management.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Lutheran Disaster Response and Lutheran Social Services of the South share a long history of partnership in service to those who are in need,” said Mark Minick, senior vice president for external relations for Lutheran Social Services of the South and Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “We are thankful to now expand and strengthen that partnership by providing healing and hope to children and families in new ways. Among other roles, this work together provides an on-the-ground presence to assist with volunteer needs and roles, organizing of resources and spiritual care activities, and collaboration and coordination of regional, national and international efforts of Lutheran partners and other response agencies,” said Minick. “We are grateful to Lutheran Disaster Response and the ELCA for the opportunity to positively impact the lives of God’s children, often coming from such dire circumstances.”&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; <br>- - -<br><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America&#58;</strong><br>The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.<br>For information contact&#58;<br>Candice Hill Buchbinder<br><span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space&#58;nowrap;">773-380-2877<a title="Call&#58; 773-380-2877" href="#" style="margin&#58;0px;border&#58;currentcolor;left&#58;0px;top&#58;0px;width&#58;16px;height&#58;16px;right&#58;0px;bottom&#58;0px;overflow&#58;hidden;vertical-align&#58;middle;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline;white-space&#58;nowrap;position&#58;static !important;"></a></span> or <a href="mailto&#58;Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</a><br><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news">http&#58;//www.ELCA.org/news</a> <br>Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans">http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a> <br>Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</a></p></div>01/13/2015