ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/ELCA presiding bishop offers letter on Supreme Court marriage rulinghttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7759http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7759<div class="ExternalClass505758432CB547819CDD99B6EFA8D249"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), offered a pastoral letter June 30 to the 3.8 million members of the denomination in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples may now exercise the right to marry. The full text of the statement follows&#58;</span></p><p>Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,</p><p>Grace and peace to you in the name of the crucified and risen Christ.</p><p>Last week the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its decision announcing the right of same-gender couples to have equal access to marriage. For many members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, this decision is a welcome sign of hope and a time for celebration. Other members of this church do not agree with the court's decision and remain deeply concerned because of their understanding of Scripture. </p><p>This decision affects each of us, some profoundly, and we are not of one mind. Let us continue to accompany one another with prayer, love and mutual respect as we reflect on this new reality and remember Paul's words in 1 Corinthians about the enduring power of God's love.</p><p>The ELCA social statement &quot;Human Sexuality&#58; Gift and Trust&quot; (2009) neither endorses nor forbids same-gender marriages and recognizes that we have differing understandings and convictions on this matter. In its decision, the court stated that &quot;the First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.&quot;</p><p>According to this church's social statement on human sexuality, all decisions about recognizing, supporting and holding publicly accountable same-gender relationships are entrusted to congregations.&#160; Recognizing that the church is not of one mind on this subject, our 2009 actions provide that congregations and clergy should discern together whether to recognize such relationships and to what degree.</p><p>Pastors are to engage in conversation, discernment and partnership with the congregations who have called them prior to solemnizing or presiding over a same-gender marriage. On the other hand, no pastor is obligated to solemnize the marriage of any couple, same-gender or different-gender, whom the pastor cannot in good conscience marry.</p><p>As Lutheran Christians, we continue to be a church that engages in conversation and discernment in all aspects of our faith and life. Creating space for respectful conversation and dialogue continues to be an important part of our life together. A helpful resource for engaging in difficult conversations is &quot;Talking Together as Christians about Tough Social Issues.&quot; </p><p>In addition, the ELCA Ministry to and with Same-Gender Couples and their Families Working Group remains in the process of completing its work. A report of the group's findings and possible recommendations will be presented to the ELCA Church Council at its November meeting.</p><p>We seek to see our differences as a gift to be celebrated as we live out that which unites us&#58; the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ who leads us into mission and ministry in the world. In the midst of this change, we are first and foremost church – a church that proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ. May God bless, guide and strengthen you each day as you go in peace and serve the Lord.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The statement is available on the ELCA website at <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Letter_on_Supreme_Court_Decision.pdf">http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Letter_on_Supreme_Court_Decision.pdf</a>, the ELCA social statement &quot;Human Sexuality&#58; Gift and Trust&quot; at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/en/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Human-Sexuality?_ga=1.109044290.1780749877.1352499724">http&#58;//www.elca.org/en/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Human-Sexuality?_ga=1.109044290.1780749877.1352499724</a> and &quot;Talking Together as Christians about Tough Social Issues&quot; at&#160; <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Talking_Together_Social.pdf">http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Talking_Together_Social.pdf</a>.<br> - - -<br> <strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Melissa Ramirez Cooper<br> Associate director, ELCA Publications and Public Relations<br> 773-380-2956 or <a href="mailto&#58;Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org">Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org</a><br> ELCA News&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news">www.ELCA.org/news</a><br> Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans">www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a><br> Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/">www.livinglutheran.com</a> </p></div>06/30/2015ELCA Malaria Campaign reaches $14.5 million toward $15 million goalhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7758http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7758<div class="ExternalClassE837480793E04FC19960B123BADD5960"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – In their commitment to help end malaria-related deaths in Africa, members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have contributed $14.5 million to the ELCA Malaria Campaign, $500,000 shy of the campaign goal of $15 million by the end of 2015. Through the campaign, ELCA members and others have joined with companion Lutheran churches and partners in 13 African countries to prevent and treat malaria and educate communities about the disease.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The greatest difference made by the ELCA Malaria Campaign has been in saving the lives of children and preventing a disease that robs families of their livelihood,” said the Rev. Daniel Rift, director for ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal. “We have long known that by reducing the number of times that a child contracts malaria, it is possible to change the trajectory of their future for the rest of their lives.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Approved by the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the campaign supports programs that provide mosquito nets, insecticides, medication, health care, education and more. As a result of campaign contributions, malaria programs in 10 countries have been fully funded. The final $500,000 to be raised will complete funding for malaria programs in Burundi, Central African Republic and Namibia.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Jessica Nipp Hacker, director of ELCA Donor Relations and Donor Stewardship and former ELCA Malaria Campaign coordinator, said that as a result of the $14.5 million in contributions from ELCA members and congregations, the church is “part of a global movement that has slashed malaria deaths in half in Africa. The programs we support have empowered more than 2 million people to keep their families and their communities safe from malaria.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “One of the great benefits of this continent-wide effort to control malaria is the possibility that the disease will be significantly reduced in whole regions,” Rift said. “But that happens only if rural communities are involved in prevention and treatment. In most of the areas where the ELCA Malaria Campaign has been at work, no other organization has been able to get access to treatment and prevention and educate communities about effective implementation. In many locations the ELCA Malaria Campaign has helped to build up the skills and capabilities of our companions and partners.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In Burundi, the ELCA Malaria campaign supports the Lutheran World Federation-Burundi malaria program. Because the disease intensifies the cycle of poverty and hunger, the malaria program is fundamental to the overall economic stability of the community. The Lutheran World Federation is a global communion of 145 churches representing more than 72 million Christians in 79 countries. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In an ELCA Malaria Campaign blog post, Bugera Barnabe, program coordinator for Lutheran World Federation-Burundi, described the importance of the malaria program in Burundi's Cankuzo province.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “In implementing our community programs, we came to see so many people suffering from malaria; so many resources going to malaria,” said Barnabe. “Malaria was taking the time of the people. It was taking the resources of the people. We thought if we don't deal with malaria, then there will be no community development ever. If we don't deal with malaria, all other outcomes will be jeopardized completely.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Rift said communities that have experienced a reduction in malaria-related deaths “are now ready to take on new challenges.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “It will be continued gifts to ELCA World Hunger that will help with those next opportunities,” he said. “The work to address malaria often becomes a starting point to a future that includes overcoming other sources of hunger. Hope in the face of malaria brings opportunity to claim hope in the face of additional challenges.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Challenges addressed by ELCA World Hunger include economic development to build up sustainable communities, support for better agricultural methods, initiatives to supply safe water and sanitation, and attention to other health-related issues and diseases facing children.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The ELCA Malaria Campaign has been a great gift to communities in 13 African nations,” said Rift. “Likewise it has been a gift to the church, opening doors of new possibilities to stand with those who are living with challenges that can overwhelm. For us all, this commitment to address malaria has planted seeds of possibility for life and abundance.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA Malaria Campaign is one of 10 priorities of the ELCA’s five-year comprehensive campaign, Always Being Made New&#58; 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.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Information about the ELCA Malaria Campaign is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/malaria">www.ELCA.org/malaria</a>.<br>- - -<br><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America&#58;</strong><br>The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br>Candice Hill Buchbinder<br><span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space&#58;nowrap;">773-380-2877<a title="Call&#58; 773-380-2877" href="#" style="margin&#58;0px;border&#58;currentcolor;left&#58;0px;top&#58;0px;width&#58;16px;height&#58;16px;right&#58;0px;bottom&#58;0px;overflow&#58;hidden;vertical-align&#58;middle;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline;white-space&#58;nowrap;position&#58;static !important;"></a></span> or <a href="mailto&#58;Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</a><br><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news">http&#58;//www.ELCA.org/news</a> <br>Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans">http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a> <br>Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</a></p></div>06/30/2015ELCA presiding bishop to attend funeral in Charleston, S.C.http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7757http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7757<div class="ExternalClass04C8029D7BFE46D4A0618B65A3ADD689"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), will attend the June 26 funeral of the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, who was among the nine people killed June 17 at a historic African-American church in Charleston, S.C. Local authorities called the killings racially motivated.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Accompanying the presiding bishop is the Rev. Herman R. Yoos III, bishop of the ELCA South Carolina Synod; Judith B. Roberts, program director for ELCA Racial Justice Ministries; and the Rev. Albert Starr Jr., director for ELCA Ethnic Specific and Multicultural Ministries.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;In these immediate days we are in mourning. The time for action will come,&quot; Eaton said. &quot;Right now we need to sit with our grief – grief that the racism within and around us has led to the death of nine children of God. This is a Holy Saturday time for our church. We cannot rush from the cross to the resurrection without abiding at the tomb.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Pinckney and the Rev. Daniel Lee Simmons Sr., Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, were graduates of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary – an institution of Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, N.C. The Columbia, S.C.-based seminary is one of eight ELCA seminaries; Lenoir-Rhyne is one of 26 ELCA colleges and universities.&#160;At age 23, Pinckney was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives – the youngest African American to gain such a seat. He was elected to the state Senate four years later.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The suspected shooter (Dylann Roof) is a member of an ELCA congregation. All of a sudden and for all of us, this is an intensely personal tragedy. One of our own is alleged to have shot and killed two who adopted us as their own,&quot; said Eaton in a June 18 public statement.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The Rev. Mr. Pinckney leaves a wife and children. The other eight victims leave grieving families. The family of the suspected killer and two congregations are broken. When will this end?&quot; Eaton said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In her public statement, the presiding bishop called for ELCA members to &quot;spend a day in repentance and mourning,&quot; which will be Sunday, June 28. A revised worship resource,&#160;&quot;A Service of Repentance and Mourning&quot; is available at <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Service_of_Repentance_and_Mourning.pdf">http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Service_of_Repentance_and_Mourning.pdf</a>.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton's public statement is available at <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/long_season_of_disquiet_letter.pdf">http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/long_season_of_disquiet_letter.pdf</a>.<br> - - -<br> <strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Melissa Ramirez Cooper<br> Associate director, ELCA Publications and Public Relations<br> 773-380-2956 or <a href="mailto&#58;Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org">Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org</a><br> ELCA News&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news">www.ELCA.org/news</a><br> Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans">www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a><br> Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/">www.livinglutheran.com</a><br></p></div>06/25/2015ELCA presiding bishop names “day of repentance and mourning”http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7756http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7756<div class="ExternalClass41BEE6314CC54803AB501F699B2D6E38"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – In a public statement following a shooting that claimed the lives of nine people</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">at a historic African-American church in Charleston, S.C., the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), called for a &quot;day of repentance and mourning.&quot; Local authorities called the killing racially motivated.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In a June 24 letter to ELCA rostered leaders, Eaton said she would like the day to take place Sunday, June 28. The worship staff of the ELCA churchwide organization developed a &quot;Service of Prayer in Remembrance&quot; for use among the nearly 10,000 congregations of the denomination.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;I hope you will have an opportunity to use significant portions (if not all) of this liturgy this Sunday,&quot; Eaton wrote. &quot;I also want to encourage you to share with your congregations, ideally from the pulpit during Sunday's worship, the June 18 public statement.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The members of this church, no matter where they are located, must think about, discuss and deal with this crucial issue of justice and compassion. It is the church's work.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;God's intention for all humanity is that we see the intrinsic worth, dignity and value of all people. Racism undermines the promise of community and fractures authentic relationships with one another. We need to talk and we need to listen, but we also need to act and speak out against inequity. Look with newly opened eyes at the many subtle and overt ways that racism infects and affects our communities. Above all pray – for insight, for forgiveness, for courage. I thank God for your faithful service to the gospel and God's work, and I thank you for your partnership in helping all of us to address the sin of racism.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton's June 18 public statement is available at <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/long_season_of_disquiet_letter.pdf">http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/long_season_of_disquiet_letter.pdf</a>&#160; and &quot;Service of Prayer for Remembrance&quot; is at <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/A_Service_of_Prayer_in_Remembrance.pdf">http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/A_Service_of_Prayer_in_Remembrance.pdf</a>.<br> - - -<br> <strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Melissa Ramirez Cooper<br> Associate director, ELCA Publications and Public Relations<br> 773-380-2956 or <a href="mailto&#58;Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org">Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org</a><br> ELCA News&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news">www.ELCA.org/news</a><br> Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans">www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a><br> Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/">www.livinglutheran.com</a> </p></div>06/24/2015ELCA delegation meets with migrant families, others in Mexicohttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7755http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7755<div class="ExternalClassA8646F3F1A8B4781836A81059E7794AC"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – For thousands of people, including a growing number of women and children migrating from Central America to the United States, their final stop before crossing the Suchiate River into southern Mexico is the </span><em style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Casa de Migrante</em><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> (House of Migrants) in Tecún Umán, Guatemala, said Stephen Deal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The number of migrants that have been welcomed and assisted in the facilities of this one house is staggering,&quot; Deal said. &quot;More than 140,000 since it opened in 1995. In 2014 a total of 6,031 migrants were assisted. Thus far in 2015, the number of migrants served is running at about 600 per month.&quot; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Deal is the ELCA regional representative for Central America. He, along with four leaders from the ELCA churchwide organization, traveled June 9-14 to Mexico, particularly Tapachula and Mexico City. The travel itinerary was put together by AMEXTRA (Mexican Association for Rural and Urban Transformation), an ELCA partner.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The trip to Mexico is one of several journeys organized by ELCA leaders who are committed to learning more about the root causes of migration. ELCA delegations have traveled to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, as well as Texas and other parts of the United States, to understand the realities migrants and asylum seekers face once they arrive here.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Since 2014 the ELCA has been responding to the needs of children and families with efforts ranging from ensuring appropriate legal representation to foster care, from providing &quot;wraparound&quot; services during their time in the United States to connecting children and families with ELCA congregations. ELCA members are also urging Congress for comprehensive immigration reform, humanitarian assistance and the humane treatment of migrants in transit.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;This month we traveled to the southern border of Mexico to observe the situation of migrants, specifically unaccompanied minors who make the long and dangerous trip to reach the Mexico-U.S. border,&quot; the Rev. Raquel Rodriguez, ELCA area program director for Latin America and Caribbean, said prior to the delegation's trip.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Migrants who are detained along the border are deported to their countries of origin, Rodriguez said. &quot;Those who are able to escape find it hard to navigate through the migration route toward the north. Along the way they find shelter in houses that the Catholic Church has developed. Some ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission participants volunteer in shelters that help Central American migrants in transit,&quot; she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In its beginning years, <em>Casa de Migrante</em> in Tecún Umán (on the Guatemalan side of Mexico's southern border) provided a hot meal, a place to sleep, personal hygiene items and a pair of shoes, Deal said. &quot;Today [the house] is able to offer the services of a professional social worker, medical care, psychological counseling, legal aid for migrants who have been victims of crime and vital information on the risks and dangers on the other side of the river in Mexico.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;In the past year, [staff at the house] noted an increase in not just the number of unaccompanied minors but entire families coming to the door. Many flee extortion, death threats and other forms of intimidation by youth gangs and other organized criminal rings in their home countries,&quot; Deal said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Staff is &quot;deeply concerned by the firsthand accounts of human trafficking that they hear with increasing frequency,&quot; Deal said. &quot;According to the house administrator, '… as they travel, migrants encounter unscrupulous people who take advantage of their vulnerable condition to make money. The primary motivation is economic …. And, to obtain what they want, these people extort, kidnap, enslave, exploit, seduce, intimidate and rape. The principal victims are women and children, especially girls.' &quot;</p><p><strong>As &quot;people of faith, we are called to do more&quot;</strong><br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Along with Deal, the ELCA delegation included Evelyn Soto, unit operations and program director, ELCA Congregational and Synodical Mission (CSM); Alaide Vilchis Ibarra, ELCA assistant director for migration policy and advocacy; Mary Campbell, manager for relationships, ELCA Global Mission; and Cecilia Favela, CSM finance director.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The group visited a government-run shelter where they met with children, families and individuals applying for asylum in Mexico. Vilchis Ibarra said, &quot;Many asylum seekers in Mexico are detained in shelters with no contact to the outside world, particularly as decisions are being made about their refugee status.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Vilchis Ibarra said listening to the stories of migrant children during the trip &quot;was heartbreaking. To speak to children who have gone through even more than I can imagine, and see them have to wait months in detention for a government to protect them is heartbreaking. I think that as people of faith, we are called to do more for these vulnerable people.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;I saw tears and sadness, not joy and happiness,&quot; Soto said. &quot;People flee their home countries as victims and are treated as criminals.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Favela said, &quot;They can't even make a phone call to families. I talked to a woman whose mother had a stroke, and she couldn't see how she was doing.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Deal added, &quot;And because of the long period of detention for the resolution of asylum claims, women and families are in need of psychological attention because of the traumas they have experienced in leaving their home countries and the experiences in detention. There is a great need for spiritual accompaniment during this time.&quot;<br> <br><strong>A detention center in Chiapas</strong><br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Campbell said families are often separated in different facilities – mothers from older teenage children, mothers and children from fathers – and they have little to no contact.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In Chiapas, Campbell met a woman who had received word that day &quot;that she won her asylum case and would soon be leaving the detention center where she and her three small children – ages 5, 4 and 9 months – had been since early March. They would be on their way to Mexico City, where an aunt and cousins live. Forced to leave Honduras by her gang member husband, who repeatedly physically abused her, his death threats made her decide to take her young children on the long journey.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;'If I stayed, my children would have lost their mother,' she said. They journeyed alone until another woman also escaping gang violence joined up with her and the children and helped her make it to Mexico. 'God protected us,' she said, 'nothing bad happened, gracias a <em>Dios </em>(God).'&quot;</p><p>Campbell said the woman is now &quot;looking forward to a new life, supporting her family as a hairdresser, alone with her children, but alive.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA delegation also met with Cuauhtémoc Ibarra, a staff member for Mexican Congresswoman Amalia Dolores García Medina.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Vilchis Ibarra said Medina represents the state of Zacatecas, &quot;which has been one of the states that has the most migrants in the United States. For that reason, migration and the plight of migrants going through or seeking safety in Mexico is an important part of Ibarra's work. He helped draft a comprehensive migrant child bill that never saw the light of day due to complicated political issues. But it helped shaped part of the current child protection law that applies to migrant children.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; During the meeting, Ibarra spoke &quot;passionately about how little protection migrants, especially children, have in the Mexican system saying, 'I don't think there is a better [child protection] law than in Mexico, but I don't think that there is one that is respected least,' Vilchis Ibarra said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;I understood where his passion came from for the issue. Ibarra had seen the faces of children abused by migration agents or being detained for months without knowing their future. I have a heavy heart knowing that a law meant to protect them is not actually applied. He asked civil society and international organizations to keep putting pressure on governments to follow protection laws because, as he told us, 'They are children.' &quot;<br> - - -<br> <strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Melissa Ramirez Cooper<br> Associate director, ELCA Publications and Public Relations<br> 773-380-2956 or <a href="mailto&#58;Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org">Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org</a><br> ELCA News&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news">www.ELCA.org/news</a><br> Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans">www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a><br> Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/">www.livinglutheran.com</a> </p></div>06/24/2015ELCA Youth Gathering brings thousands to Detroithttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7754http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7754<div class="ExternalClass57F4ADCCEE1149E3A2C1819C4CA6CC0E"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – In affirmation of their baptismal promise to “serve others and follow the example of Jesus,” almost 30,000 youth, adult leaders and others from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will participate in the ELCA Youth Gathering July 15-19 in Detroit. Meeting under the theme “Rise Up Together,” the Gathering will offer youth an opportunity to strengthen their faith and discover their call to serve the world – at home and abroad.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Heidi Hagstrom, Youth Gathering program director, said the baptismal promise “means we share in another’s experience of suffering. It means understanding life in terms of giving rather than taking, self-sacrifice rather than self-protection.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA Youth Gathering is a triennial event that brings together thousands of high-school age Lutherans from across the country and overseas for faith formation, worship, fellowship and service. Hagstrom said the Gathering theme and program is based on the Gospel of Mark.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “When studying the Gospel of Mark we recognized the recurring theme of death and resurrection,” she said. “That promise of life from death is something we know teenagers are familiar with, whether they use those words or not, and it also is the metastory of Detroit, a city that has risen from the ashes, literally and figuratively, many times throughout its history. By adding the word ‘together’ to the theme – Rise Up Together – we are making a statement about our church’s preference for the posture of accompaniment, which is the way we are in mission in the world.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Speakers during the event include the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop; the Rev. Luke A. Powery, dean of Duke University Chapel and associate professor of the practice of homiletics at Duke Divinity School, Durham, N.C.; the Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, an ELCA pastor and national leader in areas of poverty and immigration; and the Rev. Rani Abdulmasih, pastor of Mother of the Savior Lutheran Church in Dearborn, Mich., the largest Arabic-English Lutheran church in the United States and the only one in Michigan.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; During the event youth will participate in service learning opportunities throughout Detroit. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “This July we invite Gathering participants to engage in Detroit’s unique story of tenacity and hopefulness,” said Lisa Jeffreys, Youth Gathering program coordinator. “We will join in partnerships of accompaniment all across the city, allowing Gathering participants to see God at work through transformative experiences. And last but not least, we seek to empower participants to return home seeing themselves as agents of change in their own communities and in the world in life-giving ways.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Hagstrom said the event will also help the youth better understand their connection to a “global communion of Lutherans.” <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Many young people have limited experience with what it means to be part of the Lutheran Christian witness in the world. Many don’t experience other Lutherans outside of their family or congregation. With such a small circle of influence, most young people think that the way they worship in their congregation or the values their congregation espouses is the way all Lutherans practice or express their faith. The beauty of Christ’s church is that there is room for all under the tent of mercy made real through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We need the witness of young people in that community of Christ’s church,” Hagstrom said.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Preceding the ELCA Youth Gathering is the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event (MYLE) and the Definitely Abled Leadership Event (DAYLE), both to be held July 12-15 in Detroit.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; DAYLE is designed to bless and empower gifted young people with a range of physical, cognitive and emotional differences so they might grow as faithful, wise and courageous witnesses. MYLE exists to empower young people of color and those whose primary language is other than English to claim their story as part of God’s story. <br>- - -<br><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America&#58;</strong><br>The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.<br>For information contact&#58;<br>Candice Hill Buchbinder<br><span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space&#58;nowrap;">773-380-2877<a title="Call&#58; 773-380-2877" href="#" style="margin&#58;0px;border&#58;currentcolor;left&#58;0px;top&#58;0px;width&#58;16px;height&#58;16px;right&#58;0px;bottom&#58;0px;overflow&#58;hidden;vertical-align&#58;middle;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline;white-space&#58;nowrap;position&#58;static !important;"></a></span> or <a href="mailto&#58;Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</a><br><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news">http&#58;//www.ELCA.org/news</a><br>Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans">http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a><br>Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</a></p></div>06/22/2015