A visual tour of ELCA congregations, people and events.
A diversity of holiday festivals
A variety of multinational festivals and holidays are celebrated around the world, whether within particular religions, cultures or otherwise. December offers a great opportunity for sharing such festivals and holidays including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Las Posadas.
Students at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, sing at a Kwanzaa celebration. Luther is one of 26 ELCA colleges and universities. Kwanzaa is an African American holiday that celebrates family, community and culture.
Kwanzaa is celebrated for seven days beginning Dec. 26 and concluding Jan. 1. On each of the seven nights, families gather and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder).
A Kwanzaa celebrant fills the Unity cup at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
Members of Zion Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Elgin, Ill., re-enact Mary and Joseph's search for shelter in Las Posadas. A 400-year-old Mexican tradition, "Las Posadas" means "the inns," as there was no room in the inn for Mary and Joseph the night Jesus was born.
The Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Beit Jala and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramalleh, two congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, recently held their annual Christmas bazaars featuring handmade items and food.
Hanukkah began the evening of Dec. 16 and will end the evening of Dec. 24. Since the 1960s, Lutherans have studied the history of Jewish-Christian relations to end misinterpretations of Judaism and identify areas of potential cooperation.
Holy Land Christmas bazaars
The Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Beit Jala and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramalleh, two congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, recently held their annual Christmas bazaars featuring handmade items and food. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, a companion of the ELCA, has about 3,000 members in six congregations throughout Jordan, Palestine and Israel. The church’s work is concentrated in humanitarian ministries, helping to foster interfaith dialogue between Christians and Muslims and promoting a just peace in the Middle East.
Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Beit Jala made kubbeh to sell at the annual Christmas bazaar. Kubbeh is a mixture of ground meat and onions inside a bulghur wheat pastry.
A number of emerging artisans showed their wares at the Christmas bazaar at the Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah, including the self-taught baker who created these Christmas-themed cupcakes.
The choir from the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah sang Christmas carols for the opening night of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope's annual Christmas bazaar.
Women from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Beit Jala embroidered a number of pieces to sell at their Christmas bazaar. The stitch found on this shawl is unique to the Beit Jala and Bethlehem area of Palestine.
Munib Younan, bishop of the Evanglical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and president of The Lutheran World Federation, is led through the Christmas bazaar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Beit Jala on opening day.
Bishop Younan, speaks to students from St. Joseph's School in Ramallah about the products they've brought to the Christmas bazaar at Lutheran Church of Hope.
Volunteers for the Christmas bazaar at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Beit Jala pose for a group photo before the opening of the bazaar's first day.
“In holy baptism the triune God delivers us from the forces of evil, puts our sinful self to death, gives us new birth, adopts us as children, and makes us members of the body of Christ, the church” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship p. 225). Although a person is baptized once, the gift of baptism continues throughout a Christian’s life. Enjoy these photos of a baptism at Cross Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Milwaukee.
The Holy Spirit calls and invites us to receive God’s grace. Sponsors present those to be baptized, and we promise our support.
With the whole church, we confess our faith in the triune God.
Dying with Christ in baptism, children of God are raised to new life through water and the word.
Water connected to the word – God’s saving promise in Jesus Christ – is at the center of the baptismal celebration.
The members and friends of Cross Lutheran Church welcome all people, regardless of ethnic heritage, religious backgrounds, socio-economic status or sexual orientation – in other words, everyone.
Members and friends of Cross Lutheran Church in Milwaukee operate programs and provide services, many of which have grown and flourished to help the greater Milwaukee area.
ELCA Good Gifts make a difference
The ELCA is a church that is freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor. This holiday season, consider ELCA Good Gifts – a creative, meaningful way to support the ministries of the ELCA that mean the most to you and your loved ones. Select from more than 50 gift-giving options today!
A disaster, war or conflict can force a family away from their home. A survival kit – with a tarp or tent, water jug, clothes, cooking and hygiene supplies – helps a family get through the crisis. (Photo/Paul Jeffrey–ACT Alliance)
A pig in the pen is like money in the bank. A tiny piglet can grow to weigh more than 200 pounds and can be sold at market for much-needed cash. (Photo/Paul Jeffrey–ACT Alliance)
Little chicks make a difference! Chicks lay eggs which make nutritious, protein-rich meals for families who are hungry. Extra eggs allow a family to start a small business by selling them for additional income.
A rake, shovel and other tools, along with comprehensive agricultural training, help people improve their farming methods, increase production and harvest crops to nourish their families. (Photo/Paul Jeffrey–ACT Alliance)
It is estimated that more than 5,000 children and adults die each day from diseases that could be prevented by vaccination. A child at Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem is supported by gifts to the ELCA.
The ELCA International Leaders program “opens the door to someone’s future. It is like walking with one person to impact a whole community,” says Christine Mangale, a scholarship recipient from Kenya.
ELCA continues to support Typhoon Haiyan survivors
Since Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines a year ago, impacting about 13 million people, members of the ELCA and others have contributed more than $2.5 million for the ELCA’s humanitarian assistance for the storm's survivors. The funds are disbursed through Lutheran Disaster Response to support ongoing relief and recovery efforts carried out by Lutheran World Relief and the National Council of Churches of the Philippines.
These women helped clean up their community by removing refuse from blocked drainage ditches as part of a cash-for-work program sponsored by Lutheran World Relief. (Photo/Paul Jeffrey–ACT Alliance)
After the storm, cash-for-work activities were implemented to assist people whose livelihoods were destroyed by the typhoon. These activities included projects such as debris removal and cleaning out drainage and irrigation canals. More than 23,000 people participated in cash-for-work activities. (Photo/Paul Jeffrey–ACT Alliance)
After more than 4 million people were displaced by the storm, shelter became an immediate need. Within 10 days after the typhoon hit, shelter repair assistance was given to more than 25,000 people who were impacted by the storm. (Photo/Simon Chambers)
Safe drinking water, proper sanitation and hygiene materials were immediate concerns following the storm. In addition to increasing access to safe drinking water, hygiene kits containing soap, water collection buckets and toothbrushes were distributed to more than 65,000 people. (Photo/Paul Jeffrey–ACT Alliance)
On the first anniversary of the typhoon, a woman weeps at the grave of her son in Tacloban, a city in the Philippines that was ravaged by the storm. (Photo/Paul Jeffrey–ACT Alliance)
Because the storm disrupted many of the area’s major food sources, food security remains a major concern for many families. Food baskets, distributed to 20,000 people, consist of rations of rice, cooking oil, sugar, salt and dry fish for two weeks at a time. The food will be provided as needed through the end of January 2015. (Photo/ACT-Christian Aid)
Honoring those who serve
We are called to love, serve and welcome people who are placed on the edges of society, particularly those who have experienced war and combat. Let us give thanks to our veterans, especially those who struggle with the psychological, moral and spiritual impacts of war and combat.
Evangelical Lutheran Worship Prayer Book for the Armed Services is a pocket-sized companion from Augsburg Fortress that’s ideal for those in the military, family and friends of those in active service, veterans, pastors and congregations.
To date, the ELCA Federal Chaplaincy Scholarship Endowment has earned more than $26,500.
Support the new ELCA Federal Chaplaincy Scholarship Endowment that is part of Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA. The fund is designed to raise $300,000 to support candidates for ministry who will be pursuing a federal chaplaincy ministry career path.
ELCA pastors serve to carry out a word and sacrament ministry to those who otherwise may not experience the presence and support of a faith community.
“Caring for Returning Veterans” is a daylong workshop developed by the ELCA for use in congregations, synods and other ministry settings that deal with “the veteran’s experience.”