A visual tour of ELCA congregations, people and events.
Progress in the malaria fight
In the fight against malaria, the ELCA Malaria Campaign has been working diligently throughout the church to raise $15 million by the end of 2015. And there is cause for thanksgiving – as of right now, we are just a few dollars away from raising $13 million of the $15 million.
Your generous gifts and help in spreading awareness of how to stop malaria and address the devastating health, social and economic effects of the disease are making a difference in 13 African countries: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Funds raised by the ELCA Malaria Campaign support malaria programs of Lutheran church bodies and Lutheran development organizations in these African countries.
Our work isn’t done yet though. To see the progress being made and to join in this ongoing work and contribute to the ELCA Malaria Campaign, go to www.ELCA.org/Malaria.
The ELCA Malaria Campaign is one of 10 priorities of the ELCA’s five-year comprehensive campaign, Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA. Approved by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the campaign seeks to raise $198 million to help sustain and grow the ministries of this church.
Zambia: The malaria program in Zambia works to protect children like these from the effects of malaria, including death. The most vulnerable are children under 5, pregnant women, the elderly, people living in poverty and people with HIV and AIDS. Your gifts to the ELCA Malaria Campaign help equip communities with the knowledge and resources to prevent malaria.
Tanzania: Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease, but without enough training and resources, malaria took almost 8,000 lives in 2012 in Tanzania. Dainess Gidahos, with her husband and 10-month-old daughter, is participating in the Child Survival Program. The program equips them with malaria prevention education, health care, nutritional needs and entrepreneurial skills.
Zimbabwe: This ambulance at the Burure Clinic eases transportation challenges faced by many communities in Zimbabwe. Many people in Zimbabwe must travel miles, often on foot, to access health care. The presence of a clinic in the community of Burure, as well as having an ambulance, works to ease some cases of difficult transportation and lack of health care.
Burundi: In this drama in Nyamugari, Burundi, a woman takes her health record and seeks medical attention from the doctor. These dramas demystify the experience of going to the health center for community members who are more comfortable seeking help and malaria treatment from the local traditional healer.
Angola: This young girl hides behind the safety of a loved one at an event with the Lutheran malaria program in Angola. The malaria program hosts many events at the community level to increase knowledge of malaria symptoms, testing, treatment and prevention. Through this education from local community leaders, this young girl’s family knows how to prevent malaria.
Uganda: The Lutheran malaria program in Uganda continues to develop relationships and share ideas and materials with other non-profit organizations to increase effectiveness all around. Here, an educational poster shows prevention methods for how we can stop malaria together.
Mozambique: Seven churches in Caia held a workshop focusing on malaria transmission and prevention methods. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mozambique (with support from the ELCA Malaria Campaign) hosted the training with the help of the other local churches and denominations. This crowd is excited to use the teaching methods to educate their communities.
500 years of evangelical reformation
When Martin Luther posted on Oct. 31, 1517, his “Ninety-Five Theses” on the “castle church” in Wittenberg, no one expected the breadth of evangelical reforms in Christian teaching and practice that followed. The posting of the theses is considered the beginning of the Reformation. The 500th anniversary of the posting will take place in 2017, and ELCA members, congregations and synods are encouraged to observe the anniversary of this evangelical reformation in a variety of ways and alongside others, including ecumenical partners, member churches of The Lutheran World Federation and others.
Martin Luther translated the Bible into German.
The Luther Rose is a symbol for Lutheranism.
This statue of Martin Luther in Wittenberg, Germany, designed in 1821 by J.G. Schadow, was the first public monument of the reformer.
A statue of Martin Luther stands before the Dresden Frauenkirche, in Dresden, Germany. As a junior faculty member at a university in a small town in Germany, Luther was tormented by the demand for righteousness before God. In the midst of that struggle, he realized that a “merciful God justifies us by faith.”
These are the doors of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany, where Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses or “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” which became the first of a life-long stream of books, sermons, letters, essays and even hymns.
Martin Luther wrote: “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that believers would stake their lives on it a thousand times.”
For all the saints
Do Lutherans recognize, remember and celebrate the lives of saints? Yes! We give thanks to God for those people throughout history and in our lives today who are faithful – yet not perfect – witnesses of God’s love and presence in the world. We can relate to their human weaknesses and imperfections while at the same time find inspiration and guidance for our lives and faith through their example. Lutherans do not pray to or with saints, since we believe that Christ alone is our advocate and mediator and that God hears and attends to our every prayer.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Nov. 17 – St. Elizabeth was born in Hungary in 1207. She was known for her acts of charity, service and generosity with the poor, care for people who were ill, and starting several hospitals.
St. Luke the Evangelist, Oct. 18 – St. Luke is credited with writing the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, as well as being a physician and a disciple of Paul. The Gospel of Luke pays special attention to Jesus’ concern for the poor and lost, and the healing justice that comes to us through faith in the life-giving Christ.
St. Thomas the Apostle, Oct. 6 – We know him better as “Doubting Thomas,” from the story in the Gospel of John. When Jesus appeared to the disciples, he said to Thomas: “‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!”’ (John 20:27-28)
St. Francis of Assisi, Oct. 4 – St. Francis was born into a wealthy family but eventually took a vow of poverty and committed his life to serving the poor, in the manner of Christ. He also believed that it is our responsibility, as stewards of God’s creation, to protect and enjoy nature and animals. Many congregations plan services for blessing pets and other animals on this day.
How many saints do we recognize and celebrate? By some counts, 800 to 10,000 or more. It all depends on how and whom you count, and whom you ask. As Lutheran Christians, our list of saints would be very long, since Luther taught that every Christian is simultaneously saint (just) and sinner. “Simul Iustus et Peccator” – as he put it in Latin.
All Saints Day, Nov. 1 – On this day we give thanks for the saints who have gone before us, for the saints still among us, and for the saints of God still to come – together forming the body of Christ. We remember people who strengthen and inspire our faith, give us hope, are generous and caring, teach and guide us, and witness to God’s love and presence in the world.
Helping to relieve hunger
More than 800 million people in our world are chronically hungry and cannot lead active daily lives. In the United States, more than 50 million people do not know where their next meal will come from. ELCA members, called to do God’s work in the world, respond to this need in many ways. By serving their neighbors near and far, ELCA members are helping to make a difference in the fight against hunger and poverty.
The Food Pantry at St. John Lutheran Church in Joliet, Ill., is a partner of the Northern Illinois Food Bank. At least 100 volunteers from St. John work at the mobile food pantry, which helped feed more than 20,000 people in 2013.
Hosanna’s Pantry is operated by Hosanna Lutheran Church in Rochester, Minn. The food pantry is open on the fourth Saturday of each month from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in the church’s gathering area. In 2013, the pantry helped meet the short-term food needs for almost 300 families.
On the third Saturday of every month, volunteers from Bethel Lutheran Church in Chicago participate in the Taste and See Ministry, a coalition of neighborhood congregations that provides weekly meals for neighbors in need. The ministry, started by a member of Bethel, was inspired by Psalm 34:8.
Donations to ELCA World Hunger help lift people out of poverty and hunger through sustainable development projects like these gardens at the Lutheran church in El Jardin, Costa Rica. Thanks to ELCA World Hunger, Nehemias Rivera Medina and his neighbors learn about crop rotation, soil fertility and plants.
Members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Iowa, tend to their Faith Garden, located at the home of their pastor, Bob Spiers. The food they raise is donated to the Des Moines Area Religious Council Food Warehouse. As of September, the St. John’s garden volunteers had delivered more than 400 pounds of produce to help feed those who are hungry.
A new pastor in Jerusalem
Carrie Ballenger Smith, an ELCA pastor, was installed in September 2014 as pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem, an English-speaking congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Prior to Redeemer, Carrie served as pastor at Living Waters Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Crystal Lake, Ill. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land has been a member of The Lutheran World Federation since 1974. The denomination maintains a companion relationship with the ELCA. The Lutheran World Federation is a global communion of 144 member churches representing more than 72 million Christians. The ELCA is the communion’s only member church from the United States.
Carrie has served in rural, suburban and urban congregations in the Chicago area. She and Robert Smith are parents of two teenage sons.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land is called to serve all who are in need regardless of race, gender or political affiliation. The church empowers children, youth, women and men, encouraging all the baptized to be the people of God in service and witness.
While in Illinois, Carrie was active with a local interfaith consortium and was on the Global Mission Committee of the ELCA Northern Illinois Synod. In addition to being pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Carrie will be special assistant to Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.
Carrie is the recipient of the 2013 Brave Preacher Award from the Beatitudes Society for her sermon on gun violence, written after the 2012 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
The bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, Munib Younan, standing directly behind Carrie, is also president of The Lutheran World Federation. Carrie's husband, Robert Smith (right), is also a pastor and is special advisor to Bishop Younan in the bishop's capacity as president of The Lutheran World Federation.
The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer is a diverse congregation. People with a variety of backgrounds and nationalities gather in community.
Blessing all God’s creatures
The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi is observed on Oct. 4. St. Francis was an Italian friar who took a vow of poverty and cared for the poor. He also believed nature – including its creatures – was the mirror of God. He preached that it is our duty to protect and enjoy nature as both the stewards of God's creation and as creatures ourselves. In 1979, Pope John Paul II declared St. Francis to be the Patron of Ecology.
Many ELCA congregations celebrate the wonders of God’s creation and the legacy of St. Francis by holding pet-blessing services and activities for the community around this time of the year. It is a time to remember how God’s creatures – of all sizes, shapes and species – bless our lives and are essential to the environment that sustains all living things, including humankind. We commit ourselves to caring for their wellbeing in the world whether they be service animals, pets, domesticated animals, wild animals, pets in shelters, bugs or creatures that fly, crawl, run or swim.
“When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh” (Genesis 9:14-15). (Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas)
“Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark’” (Genesis 9:8-10). (First Lutheran Church & School, Torrance, Calif.)
“Four things on earth are small, yet they are exceedingly wise … the lizard can be grasped in the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces” (Proverbs 30:24, 28). (First Lutheran Church & School, Torrance, Calif.)
“God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth’” (Genesis 1:22). (Karl Gronberg, pastor of Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas)
“And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky’” (Genesis 1:20). (William Hurst, pastor of First Lutheran Church & School, Torrance, Calif.)
“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (Psalm 104:24). (First Lutheran Church & School, Torrance, Calif.)