ELCA News Bloghttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/ELCA members support ecumenical partners in confronting racismELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/100http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/100<div class="ExternalClass4CF1795E9EBE4DD084FFCF46A2EEF0A9"><p>​Affirming this church’s commitment to walk alongside its ecumenical partners, members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) join with members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and other partners in support of “Shining a Light&#58; A Concert for Progress on Race in America,” airing Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. EST.</p><p>The concert will kick off a national initiative for the Fund for Progress on Race in America, established in response to the June 17 shooting in which nine people were killed at the historic Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Funds raised will help develop programs around the country to address race, justice and reconciliation.</p><p>“With the leadership of our presiding bishop, our church has renewed its commitment to confront racism in church and society and to accompany our ecumenical partners, especially the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Black Methodist Coalition,” said Kathryn M. Lohre, executive for ELCA ecumenical and inter-religious relations. “This is an opportunity for us to reach out to our sisters and brothers in Christ, to organize watch parties and to engage in dialogue about racial justice and action toward racial reconciliation together.”</p><p>The broadcast will also feature special conversations on race in America that were recorded in Baltimore; Ferguson, Mo.; and Charleston.</p><p>“Any opportunity to bring people together to have conversations about race that lead to action is of major importance,” said Judith Roberts, program director for ELCA Racial Justice Ministries. “The arts can serve as another platform to engage and bring together people to work for change. The goal of the concert is to support leaders with funds to support initiatives for racial justice within their own community. I hope ELCA members host viewing events or join with others to watch the concert.”</p></div>11/18/2015ELCA dedicated day of service for 2016 to be held Sept. 11ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/99http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/99<div class="ExternalClass1FFC1B0285744F4281C009CCC66D44EB"><p>​<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) dedicated day of service – known as &quot;God's work. Our hands.&quot; Sunday – will take place Sept. 11, 2016. The day offers an opportunity for the 3.7 million-member church to extend the work they do in their communities every day, ranging from preparing and delivering meals to people rendered homeless to thanking emergency responders. The 2016 dedicated day of service will also mark the 15-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks on the United States.</span></p><p> <br>&quot;The world can be a dangerous place. But there are some who, when disaster strikes, run toward the danger. These are the first responders, firefighters, police and EMTs, who live out their baptismal vocation in service to their communities in times of intense need. They do God's work with their hands,&quot; said ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton.<br> <br>In 2016 &quot;God's work. Our Hands&quot; Sunday &quot;will be on Sept. 11,&quot; Eaton said. &quot;The Rev. Stephen Bouman, executive director for ELCA Congregational and Synodical Mission and former bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan New York Synod at the time of Sept. 11, recounts this story. He had a pastor in his synod who was a chaplain to the fire department. When the first plane hit the first tower, the chaplain rushed to the site where firefighters were mustering. He prayed with them and then took oil and marked their foreheads with the cross. Then the firefighters rushed into the building. The people who survived said they could see the crosses shining on the foreheads of the firefighters.</p><p>&quot;In baptism we have been marked with the cross. We are the ones who go into the broken places of the world. We are the ones who, by showing up on 'God's work. Our hands.' Sunday, shine the light of the cross in our communities.&quot;</p><p>Since 2013, thousands of ELCA congregations have dedicated a day to serve communities in ways that share the love of God with all people. Congregations are encouraged to select another day if Sept. 11, 2016, is not feasible. Resources designed to help congregations prepare for their day in 2016 will be available soon at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/dayofservice">www.ELCA.org/dayofservice</a>. A video highlighting the 2015 dedicated day of service is available here <a href="https&#58;//vimeo.com/elca/review/145542901/25f0d2a585">https&#58;//vimeo.com/elca/review/145542901/25f0d2a585</a>.&#160;</p></div>11/12/2015ELCA presiding bishop denounces possible anti-Muslim protestsELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/98http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/98<div class="ExternalClass728782FCA269462A8668EA3CF95B3ECE"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">In</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">response to announcements from anti-Muslim activists intending to protest outside U.S. mosques and Muslim community centers this weekend, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), released on Oct. 9 the following statement&#58;</span></p><p>&quot;As Christians, we are freed in Christ to love and serve our neighbors. Today our neighbors include Muslims – upstanding faithful Americans. The enemy we face is not Islam but hatred and fear. I join my sisters and brothers in calling for gestures of solidarity with our American Muslim neighbors. Together we can witness to the world that God's love will have the last word.&quot;</p><p>Eaton's statement is one of several from U.S. religious and other leaders made available through the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign&#58; Standing with American Muslims, Upholding American Values at <a href="http&#58;//www.shouldertoshouldercampaign.org/2015/10/09/national-interfaith-leaders-condemn-plan-for-hateful-protests-at-mosques-across-america">www.shouldertoshouldercampaign.org/2015/10/09/national-interfaith-leaders-condemn-plan-for-hateful-protests-at-mosques-across-america</a>. The ELCA is a founding member of the campaign.</p></div>10/09/2015ELCA, others decry 'divisive rhetoric' by presidential candidatesELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/96http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/96<div class="ExternalClassA01D506D2EF34B3F94BDE4D103FA538F"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">I</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">n a Sept. 29 letter to the chairs of the Republican and Democratic national committees, more than 45 religious, interfaith, community and advocacy groups and organizations expressed concern regarding the &quot;divisive rhetoric&quot; being used by some candidates campaigning for the U.S. presidency. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is among the signers.</span></p><p>The groups wrote that, while there are candidates who recognize that &quot;we are stronger together&quot; inspiring &quot;Americans to join together to move our nation forward,&quot; there are candidates &quot;who seek to divide us.&quot; The letter noted the &quot;anti-Muslim rhetoric&quot; in the past week from several presidential candidates.</p><p>&quot;This rhetoric is not just ugly, but it is also dangerous, for our country's future as it almost always is followed by an uptick in hate crimes and violence. We also see these statements as a harbinger of what may be; increasing attacks on communities based on faith, ethnicity, or race in order to achieve political gain,&quot; they wrote.</p><p>In their letter, the groups thanked members of each political party who have spoken out against anti-Muslim rhretoric, &quot;but more needs to be done. We ask you to categorically reject this type of bigotry and state on the record that it is incompatible with this country's founding principles. Further, we ask you to speak out publically against those in your parties who promote anti-Muslim bigotry or any other rhetoric that seeks to divide Americans based on how we look or how we pray.&quot;</p><p>Muslim Advocates initiated the letter and partnered with the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign&#58; Standing with American Muslims, Upholding American Values for support. The ELCA is a founding member of the campaign. The letter is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.shouldertoshouldercampaign.org/2015/09/30/shoulder-to-shoulder-joins-group-of-47-organizations-calling-for-political-party-accountability-on-anti-muslim-rhetoric">http&#58;//www.shouldertoshouldercampaign.org/2015/09/30/shoulder-to-shoulder-joins-group-of-47-organizations-calling-for-political-party-accountability-on-anti-muslim-rhetoric</a>.</p></div>10/01/2015ELCA congregation to hold vigil in Roseburg, Ore.ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/97http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/97<div class="ExternalClass8FDCDDCE995F4331928E74493A3C7704"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">F</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">aith Lutheran Church, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Roseburg, Ore., will hold vigil Oct. 1 at 7&#58;00 p.m. (Pacific Time) following a shooting at Umpqua Community College there. A gunman opened fire on campus, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 20 others.</span></p><p>&quot;I have not heard from any students – the names of victims have not been released. We have one teacher at the school who is a member of Faith Lutheran, and she is OK,&quot; said the Rev. Jane C. Baker, pastor of the congregation.</p><p>&quot;Roseburg is a small community of 21,000 people. We're not near any major city, and there's not another ELCA congregation within 70 miles from here,&quot; said Baker. &quot;But we have a presence here.&quot;</p><p>Baker said an invitation has been extended for the community to attend the vigil, including ecumenical and faith partners. &quot;We gather this evening to be with one another and to pray for families, students and everyone involved,&quot; said Baker. &quot;Tonight we look to God. No one else has the words for this now.&quot;​</p></div>10/01/2015Lutherans, others rally around death-row inmateELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/95http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/95<div class="ExternalClass94D98967DFFF43CE847E0CA80B9638B7"><p>​Lutherans, faith leaders and other advocates are fervently working to stop the scheduled execution of Kelly Gissendaner, Georgia's only woman on death row. The execution is set for Sept. 29. Gissendaner received the death penalty in 1988 for persuading her then-boyfriend to murder her husband. The boyfriend, Gregory Owen, is eligible for parole in eight years due to a plea bargain.</p><p>Gissendaner is featured in the October issue of The Lutheran magazine (<a href="http&#58;//www.thelutheran.org/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.thelutheran.org</span></a>), in part because of the activism of Jennifer M. McBride, a Christian ethics professor of ELCA-affiliated Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa. </p><p>Gissendaner has shown remorse for her involvement in the murder of Douglas Gissendaner and has been through a transformation that has included reconciliation with her children and ministry to despairing inmates, some of whom speak on her behalf and plead for her life in videos circulating on social media this week.&#160;&#160; </p><p>McBride taught Gissendaner as part of a theology program in the greater Atlanta prison system. Through the theology program, Gissendaner became familiar with the writings of German theologian Jürgen Moltmann and started a letter exchange with him that has lasted five years. Moltmann, at age 85, was able to attend and speak at the graduation ceremony of the first cohort of graduates of the prison program.</p><p>Gissendaner's execution was originally scheduled for March of this year, but first due to snow and then due to cloudy drugs, it was canceled. God, as Moltmann noted then, sometimes works in the most mysterious ways and when you least expect it.</p><p>Since the new death warrant was issued Sept. 18, McBride and other faith leaders have used Facebook and Twitter to encourage others to read (or re-read) Moltmann's Theology of Hope message with Gissendaner. Fortress Press has provided a free PDF of that particular chapter from &quot;Collective Readings&quot; (Fortress Press, 2014). </p><p>In her urgency to have ELCA members and others read Moltmann and pray for Gissendaner, &#160;McBride wrote&#58; &quot;Our reason for reflecting on hope and life at this time may seem obvious. On the one hand, our hope is clear&#58; We hope for clemency. We are calling on Governor Nathan Deal's Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute Kelly's death sentence to life in prison without parole. On the other hand, what it means to be people of hope in the face of condemnation to death is not at all clear. For, the threat and likelihood of death surrounds Kelly on every side … biblical hope affords us strength to live in the tension between false certainties. As we fight for Kelly's life, we have no certainty, only a command&#58; We are to 'live into the possibilities and promises of God' in active resistance to death.&quot;</p></div>09/28/2015