Hand in Handhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/Freedom’s responsibilitiesNathan Schmidthttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/445http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/445<div class="ExternalClass178C482ADDFB484E9778488A49AD045C"><p>​<img alt="Cuyatti_9-29-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Cuyatti_9-29-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;font-size&#58;12pt;"><font color="#000000">The Rev. Patricia Cuyatti preaches during a <br>visit to the Guatemalan Lutheran Church.</font></span></p><p><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;font-size&#58;12pt;"><font color="#000000"></font></span>&#160;</p><p>The Rev. Patricia Cuyatti is an International Leader whose journey through faith has always been first and foremost built on a journey for discovery. In 1974, when she was 7 years old, she passed by the Alliance Christian Missionary Church near her school in Peru and noticed many children attending the church even when school was out. Wondering, &quot;What are these kids learning about?&quot; she joined in the church's activities the next Sunday, gradually bringing her family into the faith as well. In 1992, she joined the Peruvian Lutheran Evangelical Church as a volunteer and studied at seminary to become one of her church's first ordained pastors and later president of the church. However, she began to ask why more women did not have the opportunity to be ordained and wanted to be able to contribute more to her church and community.</p><p>To gain the opportunity to contribute theologically to her home church, Patricia applied with the endorsement of her church for the ELCA's International Leaders scholarship program.&#160;From 2005 to 2010, she studied at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and earned a Ph.D. in systematic theology. She admires what she calls the program's &quot;rich view&quot; – its international diversity of students. However, the greatest impact of the scholarship program for her came in its ability to open her up to larger perspectives of her faith and the world. Freedom,&quot; she emphasizes, &quot;and the concept of living in freedom with responsibility … really reshaped my life.&quot;</p><p>Patricia holds that responsibility she earned close to her heart. After completing her program, she joined The Lutheran World Federation as the executive secretary for the Latin America and Caribbean desk, helping build relationships between a variety of member churches.&#160;To Patricia, this commitment to the church and community is a natural part of faith. &quot;We are people of faith,&quot; she says.&#160; </p><p>There are many challenges along the way to mutual understanding&#58; Many Latin American women face obstacles in their studies. Forced to choose between their responsibilities to their families and their desire to learn, they continue to struggle for equality and freedom. The ELCA's scholarships have helped international women such as Patricia gain access to education, allowing them to explore new opportunities in life. But even then, International Leaders have the responsibility to return and help their community grow. For her own part, Patricia says, &quot;My plan is to contribute as much as I can to the work and mission of the member churches,&quot; making the most of the gifts God has given her.</p><p>Patricia understands and appreciates the help the ELCA has provided her in her efforts to develop as a leader. &quot;I hope that the ELCA continues thinking about leadership development in other countries,&quot; she says, &quot;because people who are trained go back to their churches – and I hope they go back – or to positions that contribute to their churches.&quot;</p><p>Through <em>Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA,</em> our church has committed to help 200 more international women like Patricia gain access to educational opportunities through the International Leaders program. To make a gift or learn more, visit <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/InternationalLeaders"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.ELCA.org/InternationalLeaders</span></a>. </p></div>09/30/2014ELCA group arrives in South AfricaLanny Westphalhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/446http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/446<div class="ExternalClass04365608D7B74A2C93F702F81F1C0C3A"><p>​<img alt="group at airport_9-28-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/group%20at%20airport_9-28-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-family&#58;&quot;calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;font-size&#58;12pt;"><font color="#000000">Five of the ELCA Global Church Sponsorship visitors to Africa en route to Zimbabwe are, left to right&#58; the Rev. Steve Herder; Kathleen Rudrud; Pam Galster from Ascension Lutheran Church in Thousand Oaks, Calif., holding a photo of students from the Ascension Lutheran School; Rich Duncan from ELCA Mission Funding in Chicago; and the Rev. Michael Sparby from Edison Park Lutheran Church in Chicago. Not pictured is the Rev. Lanny Westphal, ELCA Global Church Sponsorship in Chicago.<span style="">&#160;</span></font></span>&#160; </p><p>&#160;</p><p>The six ELCA visitors to Africa landed safely in Johannesburg, South Africa!&#160; From there they are heading to Zimbabwe to learn more about exciting new outreach ministries in the city of Bulawayo and the rural area near Burure that will be funded through a priority appeal in <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Campaign-for-the-ELCA"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><em>Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA</em></span></a><em>.</em> </p><p>&#160;</p><p><br>&#160;</p></div>09/28/2014Arden Strasser: A great privilegeFranklin Ishidahttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/444http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/444<div class="ExternalClass74CB83F9FC3145B69A64E64CB6C76C7E"><p>​<img alt="Arden Strasser_video screenshot_9-23-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Arden%20Strasser_video%20screenshot_9-23-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /></p><p>&quot;I've been privileged to be a part of a church being reborn,&quot; says Arden Strasser, who was an ELCA missionary in Zambia from 2006 to 2014.&#160; Although, he says, traditional cultural customs play a role in the church in Zambia making it not a &quot;churchy church,&quot; he is grateful &quot;beyond words&quot; to have been a part of the lives of its pastors and members. To hear how the support of those members was crucial when a serious car accident occurred and how on another day the police delayed a planned wedding, click <a href="http&#58;//youtu.be/n7ySj336f0k"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">here</span></a> to watch a short interview with Arden. To support another of the ELCA's more than 240 missionaries, go <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">here</span></a>.&#160; </p></div>09/23/2014Celebrating diversity in Hong KongCarolyn Schneiderhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/443http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/443<div class="ExternalClass474A92A5768D41A5AAB25AEAC20A59DA"><p>​<img alt="Schneider_Hong Kong_9-16-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Schneider_Hong%20Kong_9-16-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-family&#58;&quot;calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;font-size&#58;12pt;"><font color="#000000">Carolyn Schneider, center, meets with some of her Lutheran Theological Seminary students. </font></span></p><p>&#160;</p><p><em>Carolyn Schneider is an ELCA missionary teaching at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Hong Kong. To support Carolyn, or another of the ELCA's more than 240 missionaries, </em><em>click </em><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><em>here</em></span></a>.<em>&#160; </em></p><p>Dear friends and companions in our church's global mission,&#160; </p><p>Many thanks to you for your prayers and financial support, and greetings to you from To Fung Shan road in Hong Kong's New Territories, where my home and the Lutheran Theological Seminary are both located (Tao = Logos/Word, from John 1&#58;1; Fung = Wind/Spirit, from John 3&#58;8; Shan = mountain). </p><p>The seminary tops the mountain, a 20-minute uphill climb for me each day, during which I meet many avid morning hikers, so I have quickly learned the Cantonese expression for &quot;good morning&quot;&#58; jio san.</p><p>The academic year has just begun. We have completed the first week of classes, following a week of retreat for faculty and new students at Cheung Chao, one of Hong Kong's many islands. </p><p>From these weeks I have learned that the striking international diversity of Hong Kong is reflected just as strikingly in the seminary community. Of the nearly 300 students, about 70 percent are from Hong Kong and about 30 percent are from other countries. Of the 23 full-time faculty, about 60 percent are from Hong Kong and about 40 percent are from other countries. Most of the international students are from other parts of Asia, such as mainland China, Macau, Taiwan, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Nepal. But some also come from the United States and Europe. Most of the local students from Hong Kong go on to become pastors and lay leaders in the various Lutheran church bodies in Hong Kong that have joint responsibility for the seminary. You can explore the seminary's website at <a href="http&#58;//www.lts.edu/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">http&#58;//www.lts.edu</span></a>.&#160; </p><p>Instruction at the seminary is in Cantonese (the language of Hong Kong) or English, with an occasional course offered in Mandarin (the official language of China). I teach in English and most of my students are international. For them English is a second (or third or fourth!) language, so it is not easy for them, but it is the language they have in common. The students in my classes this semester (Early Church History and Reformation Church History) are from Hong Kong, Myanmar, Nepal, Laos, Indonesia, mainland China and Switzerland. </p><p>Apart from their nationalities, my students are diverse in many other ways as well. Some come from families of generations of Christians; some are the only Christians in their families and were baptized only a few years ago. The seminary requires that applicants for academic programs that equip people for leadership in the church have been baptized for at least three years. Some of my students are earning their first bachelor's degree or have never studied theology before; some are pursuing a doctorate in theology. Our class discussion is never boring! </p><p>All of this diversity inside and outside the classroom is gladly and thankfully acknowledged by the seminary community as perhaps its greatest strength. But there is also recognition of the great challenge of finding ways to weave these diverse strands into a real community. Language barriers, differing expectations and experiences, and cultural divides are hard to overcome. Maybe you have discovered this in your own local community. </p><p>One of the ways that Lutheran Theological Seminary actively seeks to integrate its community is through &quot;families&quot; of students and faculty. A pair of faculty members meets monthly with a &quot;family&quot; of about eight or nine students to have fun together and to support and encourage each other. I met my family at the retreat in Cheung Chao, where we talked about what they would like to do together in the coming year. They suggested sharing food and stories of their lives, doing a little hiking (not too much!) and sightseeing, watching religious movies and discussing them, and visiting a synagogue, mosque, and other places of worship. That sounds good to me. In the photo above&#160;is my family, representing Hong Kong, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Pakistan, Germany, Norway, and the United States (me).</p><p>The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4&#58;7). </p></div>09/16/2014Team ministry in Central AmericaStephen Dealhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/442http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/442<div class="ExternalClass03F0F59CA0D64FC08C2878A7EC26EBE8"><p>​<img alt="Deal-workshop-9-9-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Deal-workshop-9-9-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /><br>Stephen Deal facilitates an open-air workshop with members of the Espiritu Santo mission in northern Honduras. </p><p>&#160;</p><p><em>Stephen Deal and Marta Giron are ELCA missionaries in Costa Rica. Stephen is the regional representative for Central America. To support Stephen and Marta, or another of the ELCA's over 240 missionaries in the global church, </em><em>click </em><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship"><span lang="ES-CR" style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><em>here</em></span></a><em>.</em></p><p>At the risk of pushing a metaphor too far, I will open this reflection by referring to the recent World Cup Soccer Championship in Brazil.&#160; </p><p>You may have heard that Costa Rica's national selection (known here as the 'Sele') created quite a stir. It wasn´t because they finished first; they only got as far as the quarter finals. But that was their best showing ever in the World Cup. </p><p>When Costa Rica's team headed to Brazil in early June, no one gave them a prayer (myself included).&#160; Their first-round opponents were Uruguay, Italy and England – all previous World Cup champions.&#160; Matched against these world soccer powers, few expected Costa Rica to win a match – or even score a goal. </p><p>Some joked that Costa Rica (the <em>rich </em>coast) would have to change its name to Costa 'Pobre' (the <em>poor </em>coast).&#160; There was a kernel of truth in those jokes since each of Costa Rica's first-round opponents had a star player (and sometimes more than one) whose annual salary was greater than the salaries earned by all 11 of Costa Rica's starters put together. </p><p>When all was said and done, Costa Rica finished eighth and was one of only three undefeated teams in the 2014 World Cup (the others being Germany and the Netherlands).&#160; </p><p>How did this happen?&#160; Sports commentators have devoted hours of air time to this topic.&#160; In the end, the consensus seems to be that a key to Costa Rica's success was the triumph of team play over high-paid, individual stars.&#160; </p><p>I find a certain parallel between Costa Rica's success in the World Cup and the changes taking place in the Lutheran churches here in Central America.&#160; </p><p>As a group, the Central American churches are small, young and resource-poor; they share a commitment to holistic mission in contexts of poverty, marginalization and exclusion where the pastoral demands can be overwhelming.&#160; </p><p>Being a church <strong><em>of</em></strong><em> </em>the poor, rather than a church that helps the poor, has its special challenges.&#160; When it comes to finances, Sunday offerings are insufficient to pay a pastor's salary. </p><p>Rarely is it possible for an ordained pastor to serve a single congregation, so multi-point parishes are the rule rather than the exception. Congregations function much of the time without the physical presence of a pastor. How? By taking full advantage of the gifts and talents of lay leadership.&#160; </p><p>In Central America, there is a growing emphasis on &quot;pastoral teams&quot; where volunteer lay leaders assume the roles that have been reserved for a paid pastor in more traditional church settings – presiding at worship, preaching, teaching, visitation, counseling, etc.&#160; </p><p>In the ELCA, we call this team ministry. It has its roots in the Lutheran doctrine of the universal priesthood where, by virtue of our baptism, <strong><em>all</em></strong> are called to mission and ministry in the world.&#160; </p><p>A noteworthy example of this shift from a pastor-centered model of congregational ministry to pastoral teams is occurring in the Honduran Lutheran Christian Church.&#160; </p><p>Since December 2012, leaders from every Honduran Lutheran congregation and mission point have been constructing a new model for pastoral ministry so that the church can survive and grow, notwithstanding the extremely limited number of ordained pastors that it has now – and can expect to have for the foreseeable future. </p><p>I have served as workshop facilitator through-out this process. I spent 10 days in Honduras last December just before home assignment back in the United States. After returning to Central America, I made two additional trips back to Honduras for the conclusion of the process – at the end of March and in early June. </p><p>With the input of over 150 active church leaders, the Honduran church has embraced a ministerial model where the multiplicity of pastoral tasks performed by volunteer lay leaders is recognized and valued.&#160; </p><p>The church has also set priorities for ministry-specific training for lay leaders over the next three years, specifically in the areas of Bible study, Christian education for youth and adults, and music and liturgy. </p><p>Our Honduran brothers and sisters were inspired and guided by a passage from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians&#58;&#160; </p><p style="text-align&#58;center;">To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (I Corinthians 12&#58;7).</p><p>That is to say, all members of Christ's body – lay as well as clergy – have been given unique gifts and talents.&#160; Ministry isn't what the pastor does, but rather what all baptized members are called to do when we put our God-given talents at the service of the church and community.&#160; </p><p>This is a pretty good way of describing the missionary task in today's world&#58; Recognizing that our gifts and talents are manifestations of the Spirit and that we are called to use them to serve others.&#160; When we respond to that call, regardless of whether the cultural setting is San José, Costa Rica; Tegucigalpa, Honduras; or your congregation's neighborhood in the United States, we are engaged in ministry and serving as missionaries. </p><p>So, my fellow missionaries, thanks be to God for the unique gifts that each one of us has been given.&#160; With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may we all find our ministry calling – that place where we employ our God-given talents in loving service to our neighbor and in the care of God's creation.</p></div>09/09/2014Global Church Sunday toolkit now availableAnna Moorheadhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/441http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/HandInHand/441<div class="ExternalClass8DF7C9C28710401D8217488384F34CB1"><p>​<img alt="Global Church Sunday 2014_7-29-14.jpg" src="http://search.elca.org/blogs/SiteAssets/Lists/Hand%20in%20Hand/Browse/Global%20Church%20Sunday%202014_7-29-14.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /></p><p>&#160;</p><p>Has your congregation started planning a Global Church Sunday celebration? Consider coordinating your Global Church Sunday celebration on Sept. 21 (International Day of Peace), Oct. 5 (World Communion Sunday) or Oct. 26 (Lutheran World Federation Sunday).</p><p>Download the new toolkit and learn how to plan Global Church Sunday and find ideas at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/resources/globalchurch"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">www.ELCA.org/resources/globalchurch</span></a>.&#160;Click on the Global Church Sunday tab.&#160;The toolkit has everything from global inspired coffee-hour ideas, to contacting a <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/en/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship/Supporting-Young-Adults-in-Global-Mission"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Young Adult in Global Mission, </span></a>&#160;to discussion questions about the global church. Here is a sample of the Global Church Sunday toolkit. Go to the toolkit for more ideas.</p><ul><li>The ELCA belongs to <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranworld.org/"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">The Lutheran World Federation</span></a>, a global communion representing over 72 million Christians in 79 countries<strong>. </strong>Have a <strong>discussion</strong> about how your congregation is connected with the global church. How can your congregation become more connected with the global church?</li><li>The free downloadable <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/ELCA_GCS_Placemap.pdf"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Global Church PlaceMaps</span></a> are a great way to highlight our connections during <strong>coffee hour</strong>. You can print them out on 11x17 paper on your printer or <a href="http&#58;//resources.elca.org/Products-Global_Mission.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">order copies</span></a> to be mailed to you. Consider offering fair-trade coffee, tea and chocolate or other treats from around the world. Or you could have a fair-trade fair on Global Church Sunday. </li><li>Collect a <strong>special offering</strong> during worship to support <a href="http&#58;//elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship/Supporting-Missionaries"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Missionaries</span></a>, <a href="http&#58;//elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship/Supporting-Young-Adults-in-Global-Mission"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">Young Adults in Global Mission</span></a>, <a href="http&#58;//elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship/Supporting-International-Leaders-and-Scholarships"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">International Leaders</span></a> or <a href="http&#58;//elca.org/Our-Work/Global-Church/Global-Church-Sponsorship/Supporting-Global-Ministries"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">global ministry</span></a>. Order free <a href="http&#58;//resources.elca.org/Products-Global_Mission.html"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;">global offering envelopes</span></a> to use on Global Church Sunday. </li><li>Incorporate global inspired music, liturgy, prayers or art into a <strong>global-themed worship</strong> service. </li></ul><p><em>ELCA Global Church Sponsorship offers an opportunity for you or your congregation to help build </em><em>&#160;</em><em>Christ's church by supporting Missionaries, Young Adults in Global Mission, International Leaders, and Global Ministries to work with our companions in Christ. Learn more at </em><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/globalchurch"><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><em>www.ELCA.org/globalchurch</em></span></a><em>.</em></p></div>09/02/2014