Info for ELCA Members Congregations and Synods

The International Leaders Program is a key expression of the ELCA’s accompaniment with its global companions. The program partners with global companions to identify, develop and equip strong and effective leaders. Through academic scholarships, international exchanges, engagement in gender justice, and short-term leadership experiences, the International Leaders Program is forming leaders for both church and society. Similarly, the ELCA International Camp Counselor Program invites young adults from around the world to work as camp counselors at ELCA-affiliated summer camps during the summer months.

The presence of global companion leaders here in the United States presents an excellent opportunity for ELCA members, congregations, synods, companion synod committees and other groups to strengthen their relationships with the global church. Below are some ideas for how ELCA members might engage with visitors during their time in the United States. These ideas may be especially relevant for synods in companion relationship with visitors’ home churches and for those who live near schools where scholars are studying or camps where counselors are working.

Welcome them

  • Send an email or letter. Congratulate them on their scholarship and welcome them to the United States and the ELCA.
  • Include students on your newsletter list. If your synod or companion synod team sends out newsletter updates, invite students to subscribe so they can stay current on activities.
  • Pray for them. Include students in prayer petitions for worship and devotions. Studying far from home can be a challenging experience.

Hear their story

  • Invite students to visit your synod or congregation, either virtually or in person. They are not only students/counselors but also missionaries — called and sent by their church to give as well as receive. Make connections. Listen to their stories. Invite them to preach or teach. Consider inviting them to synod assemblies or leadership gatherings.
  • Offer to host them for a weekend or holiday. This might be to make a presentation or just to “get away” for a while. School holidays can be lonely for some students.
  • Find opportunities to share what they are doing. If the student sends out a newsletter, ask for permission to include it in your synod and congregational newsletters.

Get involved

  • Encourage students with a care package. A little care goes a long way. You might designate a family or an individual to do something special for the student/counselor each month or a few times a year.
  • Make a gift. The International Women Leaders program is a major source of scholarship funding for young women who study at ELCA colleges and universities. This work depends on generous donations from ELCA members. Individuals, congregations and synods can learn more and make a gift at

If you are interested in learning more and connecting with students in the program, either in your area or from your global companion, please contact the International Leaders Program team at