A visual tour of ELCA congregations, people and events.
Spring brings synod assemblies
It’s synod assembly season in the ELCA. Beginning in April and running through June, each of the ELCA’s 65 synods gathers for its annual synod assembly. During the assembly, voting members elect leaders, determine budgets and address topics of concern through resolutions.
The theme for the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod Assembly was “God’s Love in Action: Education, Service & Advocacy.” During the May 1-3 gathering in Tulsa, Okla., about 100 members, both youth and adults, worked in neighboring Global Gardens (science and gardening sites on or near school grounds), assisted the American Red Cross or made quilts for Lutheran World Relief.
During its assembly May 15-17, the Northern Great Lakes Synod collected $25,114.28 to help alleviate world hunger with a “Quarters for Hunger” offering.
Members of the East-Central Synod of Wisconsin Assembly wiggle their “sheep ears” as the executive director and leadership team of Crossways Camping Ministries leads them in singing a Bible camp favorite, “I Just Wanna Be a Sheep.” At its May 15-16 assembly in Green Bay, members joined in support of Crossways Camping Ministries by donating items needed by the camp.
Bishop Kevin S. Kanouse dedicates the Christ Evangelical Lutheran Mission Center at Briarwood Retreat Center as part of the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod Assembly April 25. The center houses the synod offices and has state-of-the art Internet access, teleconferencing and webcast capacity.
The Eastern North Dakota Synod Assembly gathered April 18-19 in Fargo. As part of an activity to learn about the Spirit, participants blew up balloons that were released. The assembly was reminded that the Spirit is always active and on the move, often surprising us in wonderful ways, and that the Spirit is fun, bringing joy and excitement that lead to hope.
ELCA Glocal Mission Gathering musicians from around the country provide music at the Southwestern Texas Synod Assembly, May 1-3.
Churchwide assembly – Central African Republic style
The churchwide assemblies of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Central African Republic have the same purpose as the ELCA’s, but in many ways they’re quite different. Just getting to the assembly can be a long, and sometimes hazardous, journey. Once there, the local flavor of the joyous gathering helps those attending accomplish their important work under sometimes less-than-ideal conditions. Susan Smith, an ELCA missionary in the Central African Republic, attended and helped at this spring’s assembly in Bouar. A recent entry to her blog describes the gathering. Here are some of her photos taken at the assembly. (Photos/Susan Smith)
Chalk, not Wi-Fi, is used to tally the votes. Chalk has never had a connection problem.
For most attending the assembly in the building without air conditioning, seating is on benches.
Traveling for many in the Central African Republic can be a dangerous task. Space is at a premium, and the tops of vehicles provide necessary, although precarious, seating. These people were not going to the assembly, but their mode of travel is common.
Benches were set up outside for the overflow crowd, who could hear the proceedings thanks to the generator-run speakers inside the building.
Besides the five voting members from each of the church’s 28 districts, many pastors attended the assembly.
Rebecca Miminza (left) was ordained during the last day of the assembly.
The assembly elected Ndanga-Toue, right, to be the new president. Next to him is Willie Langdji, an ELCA missionary.
Three regional leaders were given motorcycles, an important means of transportation, purchased with money provided by an ELCA synod that partners with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Central African Republic.
A steady influx of immigrants in recent decades has paved the way for the first and second generation of Koreans to settle in northern New Jersey. In some cities, Koreans and Korean Americans comprise 60 percent or more of the population, making it possible for them to socialize, work, attend church and shop in a completely Korean world. They can easily get by without learning English or interacting with Americans – until they need to communicate with hospital workers, police, their children’s teachers or social service workers, although interpreters are sometimes available. Zion Lutheran Church in Ridgefield, N.J., saw a need for English as a second language classes and began a ministry called Morning Star. While the original goal may have been to help immigrants with English, the mission morphed into one of mutual sharing and mutual learning. Photos for this blog (taken by Krista Kennel) were taken for a story that appeared in the May issue of The Lutheran magazine.
Stephen Jang reviews the worksheet.
Relationships and resources are both important.
Jaeyeal Kim, with his son Joshua, participate in Bible study at Zion Lutheran Church in Ridgefield, N.J.
At the end of the Bible study, everyone prays a sentence or two in English.
June Jin (left) and Eunyoung Kim participate in Bible study.
Stephen Jang proves that study is also filled with joy and laughter.
The Sunday Gospel text is also used during the study.
Janet Blair is pastor of Zion and mission director of Morning Star.
Eunyoung Kim (left) and Chun Hee Kim read together.
ELCA members join Million Moms March
Some ELCA members gathered on Mother’s Day weekend in Washington, D.C., to participate in the Million Moms March, a peaceful demonstration that brought together mothers whose children have been killed by police. The march was organized by Mothers for Justice United, a group led by Maria Hamilton, a member of All Peoples Lutheran Church in Milwaukee. Maria’s son Dontre was shot by Milwaukee police in April 2014. All Peoples Lutheran was a leading partner at the march. The weekend included a march to the U.S. Department of Justice and meetings with White House officials and members of Congress.
The crowd listens to speakers during the Million Moms March in Washington, D.C. (Photo/Linda Muth)
Marchers hold a banner in honor of Dontre Hamilton, who was killed by Milwaukee police in April 2014. (Photo/Steve Jerbi)
People came from across the country to support mothers who mourn the loss of their children. (Photo/Linda Muth)
Steve Jerbi, senior pastor of All Peoples Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, said, “The most powerful moments were the testimonies of the mothers. There were threads that wove through their stories, knitting together common themes. Yet, each story was unique on its own, as unique as the lives lost.” (Photo/Mothers for Justice United)
ELCA member Maria Hamilton speaks to the crowd at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Members of All Peoples Lutheran Church in Milwaukee attend the Million Moms March in Washington, D.C.
Walking the talk
This is what collaboration looks like in the Heartside area of Grand Rapids, Mich., thanks in large part to a local church’s ministry. About 40 social service providers meet monthly at Bethlehem Lutheran Church as part of the Heartside Neighborhood Collaboration Project, a 5-year-old ministry of Bethlehem, a small congregation with a big focus on social justice.
Diners enjoy a meal while a line forms outside at God’s Kitchen.
Bread fills the grocery carts at God’s Kitchen and Guiding Light Ministries in the Heartside neighborhood of Grand Rapids, Mich.
In Grand Rapids, Mich., Bethlehem Lutheran Church is part of the Heartside Neighborhood Collaboration Project that serves weekday meals, enjoyed by neighbors such as Tony.
Kiel Hamlet is able to help people with legal and financial matters, thanks to the collaboration developed through the Heartside project.
Comfort food and comfort are at the heart of the Heartside Neighborhood Collaboration Project.
YAGM Discernment-Interview-Placement event
In April, the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program welcomed 79 young adults to its annual Discernment-Interview-Placement event. Young Adults in Global Mission, ages 21-29, serve in one of nine international settings alongside Lutheran global companions and ecumenical partner organizations. At the conclusion of the weekend, all 79 young adults were offered an international placement; those who accept will begin service with the ELCA and its companions around the world this August. (Photos/Sarah Bowers)
Closing worship at the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission Discernment-Interview-Placement event was held outdoors.
Young adult participants spent time in prayer. At the end of the weekend, they received a placement offer to serve in one of nine country programs around the world.
At the event, participants spent time in conversation and learning about various country programs. Here some of the Discernment-Interview-Placement participants learn about the program in Mexico from Country Coordinators Lindsay Mack (standing) and Omar Mixco.
In April, the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program welcomed 79 young adult participants at its 2015 Discernment-Interview-Placement event.
Rebecca Hernandez-Ortiz, called to serve this coming year in Argentina/Uruguay, preached for the group on Sunday morning at Techny Towers in Northbrook, Ill.
Communion was served during worship at the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission Discernment-Interview-Placement event. At the conclusion of the weekend, the ELCA called all 79 young adults to serve internationally alongside our Lutheran global companions and ecumenical partner organizations.