ELCA News Bloghttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/ELCA provides humanitarian support for UkraineELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/74http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/74<div class="ExternalClassC759624A9A9C4FDA8C8E5FD9C196AA67"><p>​The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is committed to providing humanitarian assistance for those affected by the fighting in eastern Ukraine. In January, Lutheran Disaster Response disbursed $85,000 to its partners from ACT Alliance, Hungarian Interchurch Aid and the Russian Orthodox Church to help support almost 20,000 survivors in the areas of conflict.</p><p>“The humanitarian assistance from the ELCA is critical for those who are still in the conflict areas, particularly in light of increased needs during the winter months,” said Vitaly Vorona, ELCA program director for Lutheran Disaster Response International. “The ELCA supports dialogue, peace and reconciliation between those most involved in and affected by the conflict. Our church should also stand with the ordinary Ukrainians who speak out against human rights abuses and injustice in this country.” </p><p>Lutheran Disaster Response is working with its partners to provide food, diapers, blankets, water, health kits, hygiene kits and psychosocial services to assist those who have fled their homes.</p><p>A Feb. 20 United Nations report states that, although the Feb. 15 ceasefire “led to a considerable decrease in hostilities in most parts of eastern Ukraine,” clashes have continued in some areas. According to the report, there are more than 1 million people who are internally displaced within Ukraine. The report says more than 5,000 people have been killed and more than 14,000 have been wounded since April 2014.</p><p>“Much of the refugee work of Lutherans began in European conflict over a century ago, and the relief expertise was built some 70 years ago, again related to conflict in Europe,” said the Rev. Daniel Rift, director for ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal. “It is distressing to see old divisions renewed, with such destruction and disruption of lives. It invites despair, but we are a people who stand in hope. We invite others to live in hope and to the confidence that support extended through Lutheran Disaster Response follows that hope with real help and care of those who have been driven from their homes and livelihoods by this atrocious situation.”</p><p>Information about Lutheran Disaster Response is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response/Our-Impact/Ukraine-Conflict">www.ELCA.org/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response/Our-Impact/Ukraine-Conflict</a>.<br></p></div>02/25/2015ELCA resource asks members to reflect on nature and purpose of this church ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/73http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/73<div class="ExternalClassAF51D9405D3E43F69AC65A3D6282B9BE"><p>​As the season of Lent approaches, a time for reflection and contemplation, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has introduced a new resource that invites members to reflect on how this church makes a difference in the world.</p><p>“Claimed, Gathered, Sent – A Guide for Conversation,” is a five-part resource developed by ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton and the ELCA Ecclesiology of a Global Church Task Force. According to the resource introduction the goal is to “invite reflection, conversation and discernment about what being the church means today” and “strengthen the mission and ministry of congregations and the ELCA as a whole by going back to our spiritual roots.”</p><p>The first four sessions focus on the four emphases Eaton has identified for the ELCA&#58; We are church. We are Lutheran. We are church together. We are church for the sake of the world. </p><p>The fifth session addresses the ELCA’s relationship with its global and ecumenical partners, particularly 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.</p><p>&#160;“I’m eager to share with you the resource ‘Claimed, Gathered, Sent – A Guide for Conversation.’ You may remember my earlier invitation for conversation and engagement during a five-week period about the very nature and purpose of our church,” said Eaton in an email message to ELCA members. “Please consider joining in this timely conversation about the life of our church. I believe your engagement will lead to a deeper understanding and a clearer sense of our identity, our mission and our calling to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be agents of God’s love in the world. Thank you for your partnership in the gospel.”</p><p>Congregations are asked to send feedback about their experiences using the resource to <a href="mailto&#58;Faith@elca.org">Faith@elca.org</a>.</p><p>“Claimed, Gathered, Sent – A Guide for Conversation” is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/faith/">www.ELCA.org/faith/</a>.</p></div>01/30/2015David Vásquez-Levy to become first Lutheran, Latino president of a U.S. seminaryELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/72http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/72<div class="ExternalClass583199E8FD68426DA8DA0F62EA89B7DA"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">The Rev. David Vásquez-Levy, a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), will become the 12th president of Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif. Vásquez-Levy was a campus pastors at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, one of 26 ELCA colleges and universities.</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Vásquez-Levy is the first Lutheran and Latino to serve as president of Pacific School of Religion, and one of four people of Latino/a descent serving as president for a U.S.-accredited seminary.</span></p><p>&quot;I am excited to join a community that has been at the forefront of bringing the good news of the gospel to bear on issues as diverse as gender equality, civil rights, peace and justice (and more), and that is poised to be a catalyst to continued conversations that broaden the spectrum of people of faith and conviction that want to join together in shaping the future,&quot; said Vásquez-Levy.</p><p>Vásquez-Levy earned a Master of Divinity degree at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago in 1995, and a Doctor of Ministry degree there in 2001. The seminary is one of eight of the ELCA. </p><p>Vásquez-Levy has authored several publications and a dedicated advocate for humane immigration policies. After the 2008 immigration raid in Postville, Iowa, Vásquez-Levy co-led the Postville Relief Effort team. He served as a consultant on two documentaries discussing the raid, worked closely with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services based in Baltimore, and he participated in White House conversations and congressional briefings about the raid in Postville and immigration.</p><p>&quot;President David Vasquez will bring strength to the strategic direction of Pacific School of Religion to inspire, train and sustain spiritually-rooted leaders for social change,&quot; says David Tiede, president emeritus of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and former interim president of Luther College.</p><p>Vásquez-Levy's inauguration and celebration will be held Jan. 29, 2015, at 2&#58;00 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley. Pacific School of Religion has formal relationships with the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church are full communion partners of the ELCA.</p><p><em>Amanda Straw is a student at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., majoring in English writing. She served as an intern for the ELCA churchwide organization.</em></p></div>01/27/2015ELCA observes 2015 Week of Prayer for Christian UnityELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/71http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/71<div class="ExternalClassA96A0865A38F44AF8041DFA86BF8456F"><p>​Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will join millions of Christians around the world Jan. 18-25 to observe the 2015 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. </p><p>“Each year, Christians throughout the world observe The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity,” said the Rev. Donald McCoid, ELCA director for ecumenical and inter-religious relations. “In keeping with Jesus’ prayer for His disciples in John 17&#58;21 ‘that they may be one so that the world may believe,’ Christians pray for this unity among followers of Jesus today.” </p><p>The theme of the 2015 observance is “Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink,’” taken from the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4&#58;1-42.</p><p>McCoid shared thoughts about the 2015 theme taken from an article written by the Rev. Gerald O’Collins S.J. in the October 2014 issue of Ecumenical Trends. O’Collins is a retired theology professor of the Gregorian University in Rome. </p><p>“Those who give themselves in a special way to the cause of Christian unity should find a shining model in the Samaritan woman,” said O’Collins in the article. “In speaking to her and asking her for a drink, Jesus crosses the boundaries of Orthodox Judaism. But as a person very much on the margins of her society, she too crosses the boundaries of her culture and time. As a most unlikely religious leader, she witnesses courageously to Jesus and brings people of Sychar (in Samaria) to faith in him. More than ever, the cause of unity among Christians needs her kind of courageous witness.”</p><p>Traditionally the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is observed during the week between the feasts of St. Peter and St. Paul. In the Southern Hemisphere, the observance is held later in the church year, often during Pentecost.</p><p>More information about the 2015 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is available at&#160;&#160; <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Faith/Ecumenical-and-Inter-Religious-Relations">www.elca.org/Faith/Ecumenical-and-Inter-Religious-Relations</a>.<br></p></div>01/16/2015Russell Siler, former ELCA director, diesELCA News http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/70http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/70<div class="ExternalClass68EA1F084D80448F803D3998B9AAA94F"><p>​The Rev. Russell O. Siler, former director of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) advocacy ministries, died Dec. 26, 2014, at his home in Weems, Va. Siler was 72.<br>Siler served as interim pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem from 2003 to 2007 and again in 2010. The congregation is one of six of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Both the denomination and the ELCA are members of The Lutheran World Federation based in Geneva. <br>“Russ Siler was a passionate lover of justice. He used the church's voice to challenge policies and structures that prevented people from full participation in society and from realizing their human potential,” said the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director for ELCA Global Mission. “While his initial work in these areas focused on domestic policy, this passion led him to Jerusalem to serve as advisor to Bishop [Munib] Younan and as pastor of the English-speaking congregation at Redeemer Church.” Younan is bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.<br>Siler was director of the Lutheran office for governmental affairs in Washington, D.C., from 1997 to 2003 and director of Lutheran advocacy ministry in Pennsylvania from 1993 to 1997. Siler was the court-appointed attorney for juvenile domestic relations in district court for Virginia Beach, Va., from 1987 to 1992. <br>“Russ was a gift to the ELCA in all his ministries, but I knew him best for his work in the Washington office where he navigated through the halls of Congress on behalf of us all. He had a wonderful and collegial spirit,” said Josselyn Bennett, director of ELCA poverty and justice ministries.<br>Siler received his received his Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Va., in 1964, and his Master of Divinity from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in Gettysburg, Pa., in 1968. He received his law degree from Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C., in 1986. Siler served as pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Virginia Beach, Va., from 1988 to 1992, pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Virginia Beach, from 1971 to 1982, and pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Warrenton, Va., from 1968 to 1971. </p></div>01/12/2015Palestinian Authority payment eases Augusta Victoria Hospital’s financesELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/69http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/69<div class="ExternalClassCB5B557E83474C3F96B2DA2397EC69E7"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Augusta Victoria Hospital, located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, has received &quot;a substantial amount of receivables&quot; from the Palestinian Authority, averting a financial crisis. According to The Lutheran World Federation, the payment was made in November after ongoing advocacy efforts. The funds will help cover unpaid bills for patients referred to the hospital by the Palestinian Authority.</span></p><p>The hospital is a program of The Lutheran World Federation, a global communion of 142 churches representing more than 70 million Christians in 79 countries. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is the communion's only member church from the United States.</p><p>Earlier in 2014, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop, requested that the U.S. government allocate a portion of its bilateral support to the Palestinian Authority to pay its debt to Augusta Victoria Hospital. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Eaton wrote that the &quot;debt arose from unpaid treatments in 2013 for patients referred by the Palestinian National Authority to Augusta Victoria Hospital.&quot;</p><p>Eaton also noted that the ELCA continues to provide annual financial support to the hospital, which cared for nearly 28,000 inpatients and outpatients in 2012. The hospital's specialized care centers offered more than 13,200 dialysis sessions, nearly 10,000 chemotherapy sessions and more than 14,000 interventions in the radiation oncology unit on an outpatient basis.</p><p>The hospital &quot;is able to continue delivering its relevant specialized health services,&quot; said the Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary of The Lutheran World Federation. &quot;With the support of USAID and the European Union Nov. 17, 2014, the Palestinian Authority was able to pay outstanding patient bills&quot; he said, adding that &quot;while this payment covers a substantial amount of the due patient fees, all receivables are not fully paid.&quot;​</p></div>12/18/2014