ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/ELCA reaches milestone in welcoming new congregationshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7745http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7745<div class="ExternalClassF7FC0D62E9724970B31F4ACA3BD0655F"><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) – For the Rev. Ruben Duran, the message is quite clear – &quot;Christ's church is not dying.&quot; That's a different message, he says, than what has been widely reported in recent years about the decline in membership among U.S. mainline denominations, such as the 3.8 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; As director of ELCA new starts, Duran believes that this church &quot;is not dying. It is changing&quot; – particularly as the ELCA reaches a significant milestone this spring.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Since the ELCA began in 1988 as a result of a merger, more than 500 new congregations have been &quot;planted, organized and joined the ELCA. That is a milestone worth celebrating,&quot; said Duran. The &quot;changing part,&quot; he said, is that 56 percent of all ELCA new starts are among ethnic-multicultural communities, and 27 percent in communities where people are living in poverty or low-income. Another 26 new ministries started with leaders whose congregations left the ELCA in recent years, and there are 65 ELCA prison ministries.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Put that all together, he said, and &quot;we have 10 percent of the denomination in the growing stages. This is a good moment to celebrate. God is making all things new. The new start is the new skin of this church, and the new skin of the ELCA is a fusion of many nations being welcomed into the ELCA. It reflects the country that we're becoming. We are not dying. We are changing.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;I use to believe that my neighbor was an object that I had to convince,&quot; Duran said. &quot;Now I realize that my neighbor is a child of God, who also has a message to share with me. I need then to shut up and listen to my neighbor, and together we can discover ways to be in relationship with one another under God's grace. That's a whole different story, and I'm thankful for it.&quot; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; For the Rev. Anna-Kari Johnson, assistant program director for ELCA new congregations, &quot;It is inspiring to see so many congregations race across the finish line together to become the 499th and 500<sup>th</sup> congregation.&quot; Ten of the newly organized ELCA congregations were welcomed at several of the ELCA's 65 synods hosting synod assemblies this spring.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In addition to the newly organized congregations, Johnson said that there are 352 ministries under development. &quot;And with all of us working together, we can start more. That's a sign of a healthy church – each of our home congregations starting another congregation,&quot; she said. &quot;And all of our churches can be part of this!&quot;<br> <br><strong>Worship at a senior center</strong><br><em> </em><em>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </em>When ELCA members have an idea for a new ministry, they contact their synod office and ask for the bishop or director for evangelical mission. Next they invite people to serve as &quot;prayer partners&quot; for the ministry, identify a mission developer and garner financial resources. As new ministries take root, it is not unusual for people to gather for worship in city parks, libraries and cafes, shelters, senior centers, homes and elsewhere.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; According to the Rev. Judith Spindt, director for evangelical mission, ELCA Southwestern Texas Synod, mission developers are often asked, &quot;'Where is your church?' Most of the time mission developers are only equipped with contacts and a list of cellphone numbers. That's where the church begins. As the mission developer commits to relationships, people start engaging and seeing each other and the face of God is revealed.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Spindt is one of nearly 65 directors for evangelical mission in the ELCA. As part of the work of these directors, &quot;We lay the groundwork to begin a new ministry and partner with people in their development life. We ask questions like, 'Are you worshiping? What are you doing to include others? Are you ready to organize?' It's also about discipleship and self-sufficiency. A lot of prayers and dollars go into making mission possible,&quot; she said. &quot;It takes love, discipleship, commitment and a sense of growth to make things happen.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; For the past two years, Spindt partnered with two congregations in particular that declare to be the 499th and 500th ministries to join the ELCA – Spirit in the Hills Lutheran Church in Spicewood, Texas, and Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church in Seguin, Texas.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We're 4 years old and started as a 'new wine' congregation,&quot; said the Rev. Tim Bauerkemper, pastor developer of Spirit of Joy. A &quot;new wine&quot; ministry is a congregation that began from a congregation that had disaffiliated from the ELCA. Although there was a group that sought to leave the ELCA, there was a group that wanted to remain, said Bauerkemper.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We need to start new ministries because God is always writing a new story,&quot; he said. With a radical sense of welcome and community, &quot;we had a new opportunity to think of who we are as church. Even when something can fail, we can learn some important things. We have a lot to teach, particularly among congregations who have been around and want a breath of fresh air.&quot;</p><p><strong>The Campaign for the ELCA</strong><br><strong><em> </em></strong><em>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </em>Starting new congregations is a priority of <em>Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA</em> – a five-year campaign approved by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. It seeks to raise $198 million in support of new and expanded churchwide ministries above and beyond those supported by regular weekly offerings. The goal for the ELCA New Congregations priority is $4 million. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We are experiencing a time of a modern day 'Book of Acts' as the Spirit calls together people to experience the transformational love of God,&quot; said the Rev. Ronald Glusenkamp, director of the ELCA campaign.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;These new starts are signs of an amazing movement that is happening. I am grateful for the gifts of individuals and congregations with 'glad and generous hearts' who support this growth by giving to <em>The Campaign for the ELCA</em>,&quot; he said.<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>05/28/2015Lutherans, Catholics celebrate 50 years of dialoguehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7744http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7744<div class="ExternalClassA9CF0666D98842B388B30DC93B6E05E2"><p>&#160;<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – Lutherans and Catholics in the </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">United States</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> have been in dialogue for the past 50 years. A Service of Thanksgiving and Prayer to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the dialogue will take place May 27 in the chapel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Center in Washington, D.C. Lutheran and Catholic leaders will then gather for this sixth meeting of Round XII of the U.S. Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue on the topic of &quot;Faithful Teaching.&quot;</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), will deliver the homily. The Rev. Richard H. Graham, bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod, and Bishop Denis J. Madden of the Archdiocese of Baltimore will preside. The Rev. Lowell G. Almen, a former ELCA secretary and co-chair of the current round of U.S. Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue, and the Most Rev. Lee A. Piche, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and co-chair, will lead prayer.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Following the service, Monsignor John A. Radano will deliver an address&#58; &quot;The Significance of the Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue in the United States after Fifty Years.&quot; Kathryn M. Lohre, assistant to the presiding bishop and executive, ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations, will offer a response.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Fifty years ago, I don't think anyone could have imagined the significant and substantive agreements reached by our two churches,&quot; said Eaton.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Fifty years ago, many of us were still stuck in in old polemics lobbed at each other. But thanks to the efforts of the late James R. Crumley, presiding bishop of the former Lutheran Church in America, and Pope St. John Paul II, who reached out to each other in the early 1980s, and thanks to the work of the U.S. Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogues, we have moved ever closer to each other. And these are not facile, lowest common denominator agreements, but consensus formed through the clear presentation of each of our understandings of who we are and out of deep respect for each other. Thanks be to God,&quot; said Eaton.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The past 50 years of Lutheran-Catholic dialogue in the United States and internationally have produced significant fruits, most notably the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification,&quot; said Lohre, &quot;It is fitting that we give pause to celebrate the strides we have taken and to recommit ourselves to journey together on the way to visible Christian unity. Our divided world longs for a unified Christian witness. As was the case 50 years ago, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, the moment for this ecumenical endeavor is uniquely ripe.&quot; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Signed in 1999 in Augsburg, Germany, the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification is a significant document for Lutherans and Catholics. With the Joint Declaration, The Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican agreed to a common understanding of the doctrine of justification and declared that certain 16th century condemnations of each other no longer apply. The Lutheran World Federation is a global communion of 144 churches representing more than 72 million Christians in 79 countries worldwide. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The purpose of the U.S. Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Round XII is to examine the ministries of teaching within the Catholic and Lutheran churches through&#58;<br> + study of official statements and documents, as well as the findings of previous dialogues regarding the respective practices of the churches for such ministries,<br> + exploration of the sources, structures and patterns for discerning the truth coming to us in God's word and communicating this truth in normative teaching for today, and <br>+ assessment of the dialogue's conclusions regarding the ministries of teaching for long-term ecumenical relationships.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In the past 50 years, topics for dialogue have included the status of the Nicene Creed, baptism, the Eucharist, papal primacy and the universal church, the saints and Mary, salvation and hope.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The U.S. Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue began March 16, 1965, just four months after the issuance of the Decree on Ecumenism by the Second Vatican Council. Throughout the past half century, 11 formal reports have been completed and a 12th round is underway,&quot; said Almen.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;At about the time the Decree on Ecumenism was published in the fall of 1964, a group of students at (the former) Luther Theological Seminary (now Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.,) began meeting periodically with a group from St. Paul Seminary of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. I was one of the seminarians from Luther,&quot; said Almen.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Little did I imagine in a meeting with those Catholic seminarians in St. Paul in 1964, and then hearing of the start in 1965 of the U.S. Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue that, one day, I would be sitting at the table of the official dialogue with folks whom I find amazing,&quot; he said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In 1998, Almen became a member of the Round X dialogue, and in 2006, he became co-chair for Round XI and continued as co-chair for Round XII (the current round), which began in 2011 on &quot;Faithful Teaching.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;To be at that table is to be constantly mindful of the prayer of Jesus, 'that they may all be as one' (John 17&#58;21),&quot; said Almen.<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>05/26/2015Liberians give thanks after country declared Ebola-freehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7743http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7743<div class="ExternalClass602C2F7DD43A47D68244E0FB75302AFB"><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) – Tenacity, determination and faith – that's how the Rev. Andrea L. Walker described members and leaders of the Lutheran Church in Liberia, as well as people of the West Africa country, in response to their efforts to become Ebola-free. Walker is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) area program director for Madagascar, West and Central Africa.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Walker returned May 13 from a trip to Liberia. She was on one of the first few flights to depart Liberia for the United States since the World Health Organization declared Liberia free of the virus. &quot;Sierra Leone is still not Ebola-free. People there need our continued prayers,&quot; she said, although the epidemic is slowing down there with less than 10 new cases reported since the week of May 10.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;When Ebola was considered a crisis in August 2014, the people of Liberia took it very seriously, including the leaders and members of the Lutheran Church in Liberia,&quot; said Walker. &quot;People took up new practices. Instead of shaking hands to greet one another, they offered a thumbs-up, fist-bump or would place their hand over their heart.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;People took every safety measure and engaged in public education,&quot; she said. &quot;Signs are posted everywhere. One of my first impressions departing the airplane and shuttle bus before entering customs is that everyone, including children, was directed to wash their hands in chlorine-tinged water. And before entering most buildings and public spaces, people washed their hands and had their temperature taken.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Even outside the church building, where I preached this past Sunday, there was a stone basin with three water spigots for hand washing,&quot; said Walker. &quot;When I said that today we mark an end to the Ebola virus in Liberia, there was an eruption of alleluias and praise in the congregation.&quot; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;This was the vision of Bishop D. Jensen Seyenkulo of the Lutheran Church in Liberia – the tenacity, determination and faith to beat the virus. He walked with people, visited rural villages and was just in the midst of it all along with other leaders of the denomination. It was just amazing. The people of the church and country are just amazing,&quot; she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;When Ebola first appeared and started devastating communities, the Lutheran Church in Liberia joined with other churches under the auspices of the Liberian Council of Churches,&quot; said Seyenkulo. &quot;We gathered to pray for direction for ourselves and the leadership of the nation and to share ideas and resources for the fight against the unknown. It was from these meetings that leaders learned of the seriousness of the virus. It was from there, we were initially empowered with supplies,&quot; he said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;When partners like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Global Health Ministries, a faith-based partner, heard of our plight, they rushed to our aid. We then shared our resources with government hospitals and communities, particularly those neglected,&quot; said Seyenkulo.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The prayers and actions of the Lutheran Church in Liberia were encouraging to our members,&quot; he said. &quot;The members of the church joined leadership in prayer, the dissemination of medical information, collection and distribution of food items for quarantined communities and in providing sanitation materials all across the county.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We lost members. We lost some of our pastors and a missionary. Of the seven ordained pastors and deacons that died, only one died of Ebola. The others died because health care services in the country were interrupted,&quot; said Seyenkulo.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Because of the Ebola epidemic, many people feared going to medical centers and hospitals to seek care for other ailments, such as malaria.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Most of the members of the Lutheran Church in Liberia see the Ebola-free status of the country as an act of God. They see it as an intervention of a gracious God who has stepped in to save them and their country. We are not angry with God. We are grateful to a gracious God, who never lets us walk alone and who gifts us with a myriad of healing possibilities,&quot; said Seyenkulo.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. Themba Mkhabela, ELCA regional representative, traveled with Walker to Liberia.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Ebola was defeated in Liberia because Liberians were willing to change their attitudes and adopt life-saving practices,&quot; said Mkhabela. &quot;This was a choice that Liberians had to make and in most cases a very difficult choice, especially when people had to let go of their dead loved ones to allow the government to dispose of dead bodies through cremation. Liberia made their choice, they chose life. People who have given up are not capable of making choices.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Many Christians in Liberia, through the call of the Christian Council, were engaged in constant prayer and fasting. They attribute the reduction in the numbers of infections and the eventual end of Ebola in Liberia to God's answer to their prayers and petitions.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Liberians were hard at work during the Ebola crisis trying to save their way of life. They did not have time to feel sorry for themselves,&quot; said Mkhabela.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Through Lutheran Disaster Response, ELCA members provided funds to support the efforts of the Lutheran Church in Liberia, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone, the ACT Alliance and, at the request of the Lutheran Church in Liberia, provided funds to Global Health Ministries. Funds supported the distribution of food, medical and other supplies, as well air-freight costs to ship personal protective equipment to Monrovia, Liberia's captial.<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>05/18/201579 ELCA young adults called to servehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7742http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7742<div class="ExternalClass82F19F3AE8944D4A8BC9CDA76C3EFB8F"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – Seventy-nine young adults have accepted the call to serve with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Young Adults in Global Mission program, an international mission opportunity for 21- to 29-year-olds. In August these young adults will embark on a year of service with ELCA companion churches and organizations around the world.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; But qualifying for the program requires more than simply filling out an application and answering questions. To determine where and how they might serve, young adults participate in a focused and contemplative process known as the “Discernment-Interview-Placement” event, called DIP.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “In my experience, there are very few spaces in our lives that we set aside specifically for the purpose of listening,” said the Rev. Heidi Torgerson-Martinez, program director for ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission. “And that, at the core, is what the Young Adults in Global Mission Discernment-Interview-Placement event is about. It’s a space for young adults to come alongside one another and listen for what God might be calling them to be about in the coming year.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The DIP event, held every April in Chicago, presents workshops and conversations with global mission staff, providing participants the opportunity to learn about the various country programs. Prayer and worship are also important aspects of the event. On the last day, the young adults receive a placement offer to serve in one of nine country programs.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “In the Lutheran tradition we understand the work of discernment to be something that happens in the context of community,” Torgerson-Martinez said. “At DIP the individual sense of call that each of our candidates carries comes into conversation with the voices of the ELCA, the global mission unit, Young Adults in Global Mission staff, and our global companion churches and organizations. And somehow, some way, the Holy Spirit shows up. It’s a pretty amazing gift to be part of that holy listening with such a community.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Young Adults in Global Mission program started in 1999 with 10 participants who served in the United Kingdom. Since then, almost 600 young adults have served in country placements throughout the world, helping with programs that include sustainable agriculture, education and child care, church leadership support, congregational ministry, and rural health care and development. Torgerson-Martinez said the new group of 79 young adults is the largest since the program began.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The energy at the DIP event is always powerful, but as I walked into the plenary space that first evening I was completely overwhelmed by how big the collective energy felt,” Torgerson-Martinez said. “The tremendous diversity of gifts and experiences and vulnerabilities and hopes represented by this huge group of faithful young adults is something that will reverberate throughout the church global in the coming year and throughout the ELCA for years to come.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “We are so grateful for this group of thoughtful, grounded young adults and their openness to the process of discernment,” said Stephanie Berkas, manager of the ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission program. “Participants show up to this event with all sorts of hopes and anxieties, but we are consistently blown away at their willingness to trust the Spirit in this process.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Berkas said many alumni remain involved in the program, and a number were on hand during the DIP event to help interview participants and share stories about their year of service.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “After 15 years of the program, there are over 550 alumni back in the United States and we couldn’t be more grateful for the ways that they’re engaged in the work of the program, as well as the wider ELCA,” Berkas said. “Their accompaniment with these young adults is remarkable. They welcome them into this life-changing experience and share stories from their own host communities.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Torgerson-Martinez said, “Every year I am struck by what a privilege it is to be part of this little corner of Christ’s church that is the ELCA. As we talk with these young adults over many months leading up to the DIP event, it is so clear that they have been formed by a church that loves and cares, not just about them as young people, but about the life of the world that God so loves. The ways in which the wider ELCA rises up around these young leaders in formation – and in prayerful and financial support – is nothing short of remarkable.”</p><p>- - -<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>05/08/2015ELCA provides $500,000 for emergency aid in Nepalhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7741http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7741<div class="ExternalClassA629DEE58A254773A016979529687FF5"><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) – In an effort to continue meeting the needs of earthquake survivors in Nepal, members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have allocated $500,000 to support ELCA partners there engaged in relief and emergency assistance.</span></p><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span>The funds were sent through this church's Lutheran&#160;Disaster Response to ACT Alliance – $200,000 allocated to The Lutheran World Federation based in Geneva, $200,000&#160;to Lutheran World Relief based in Baltimore, and $100,000 to the United Mission to Nepal.<br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span>Active in Nepal since 1984, The Lutheran World Federation began an immediate large-scale emergency response in and around Kathmandu, Nepal's capital. The earthquake's epicenter was approximately 50 miles northwest of the city. As of May 4, the confirmed death toll is more than 7,270 people. The Lutheran World Federation is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. The ELCA is the only U.S. member church of the communion.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &#160;ELCA funds will support the communion's establishment of shelters and camps and the distribution of clean water, food, sanitation supplies and more in several districts in the Kathmandu Valley. The Lutheran World Federation is the lead agency for ACT Alliance and is working directly with the Nepalese government.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Active in Nepal since 2009, Lutheran World Relief is distributing quilts, water filtration systems and other emergency relief supplies.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The most pressing emergency needs are providing &quot;food, health services and water and sanitation through our cooperative operational partners – Lutheran World Federation and Lutheran World Relief,&quot; said the Rev. Daniel Rift, director for the ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We anticipate continuing support of rehabilitation, shelter and economic development both through the operational partners and other church companions in the longer term,&quot; he said.<br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span>&quot;The ELCA grant is an expression of our solidarity with the Nepalese people,&quot; said Vitaly Vorona, program director for ELCA International Disaster Response.<br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span>&quot;The ELCA and its partners are planning to reach approximately 20,000 families. My thoughts and prayers are with the (survivors) of this disaster. I hope this grant will facilitate the provision of timely, urgent materials to the (survivors) and help them restore to their normal living. As soon as our immediate assistance is completed, we will look into how we can further support people in Nepal,&quot; Vorona said.<br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span>ELCA funds&#160;allocated for&#160;the United Mission to Nepal&#160;oversees&#160;health care services with special medical, surgical and orthopedic care units in four districts in the Kathmandu Valley. &quot;United Mission is receiving patients from many outlying districts, as well,&quot; Rift said.<br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span>​&quot;The ELCA has a long relationship with United Mission to Nepal, which in part provides health care services,&quot; said the Rev. Y. Franklin Ishida, area program director for Asia and the Pacific, ELCA Global Mission.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; ​&quot;Nepal is a country where poverty and underdevelopment continue to be issues,&quot; Ishida said. &quot;The ELCA has long supported organizations that are devoted to bringing holistic development to the people of Nepal. With this disaster, the needs of the country, both immediate and long-term, are deeply on our minds as we embark on disaster response.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Through its Direct Choice Dollars program and personal donations, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans will match donations made to Lutheran Disaster Response.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The ELCA's focused earthquake efforts are being supported through gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response. All gifts designated for the 'Nepal Area Earthquake' will be used 100 percent for this response,&quot; Rift said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Information about Lutheran Disaster Response is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/en/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response">www.ELCA.org/en/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response</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>05/07/2015ELCA members called to pray, stand in solidarity with Baltimore residentshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7740http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7740<div class="ExternalClass75A3924E2F2A43538A9C090DA9D744FD"><p>​<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> &#160;&#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – In an effort to stand in solidarity with residents of Baltimore as the unrest there continues, the Rev. Wolfgang D. Herz-Lane, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) Delaware-Maryland Synod based in Baltimore, is encouraging people of faith across the country to step outside their places of worship May 3 for a moment of silence and prayer.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Shortly after the death of Freddie Gray, Herz-Lane and other religious leaders of the city expressed concern over Gray's death. In a public statement they appealed to &quot;citizens of good will to remain calm&quot; and express their &quot;anger and frustration in peaceful and constructive ways.&quot; Herz-Lane chairs an ecumenical leaders group in Baltimore and is a member of the city's interfaith council, which includes Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;What religious leaders here want to get across is that what's happening in Baltimore has root causes,&quot; said Herz-Lane in an interview.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The continued challenges of poverty, race relations, unemployment and sub-standard housing (perpetuates) feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness among people here, which has then led to the despair. That is what we have seen. Preceding the rioting, there were peaceful protests – no incidence of violence until Saturday evening,&quot; said Herz-Lane. &quot;But if we don't address these root causes, then the symptoms are not going away – symptoms being mass demonstrations and rioting.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Congregations of the ELCA Delaware-Maryland Synod first stepped out of their church properties on April 26 to stand in solidarity with the family and friends of Gray, Baltimore's mayor, police commissioner, state's attorney and other city leaders and law enforcement officials.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton has called on Lutherans to pray for peace in Baltimore. &quot;Pray that God send us the courage and grace to come to grips with the root causes of this strife,&quot; she said on Twitter. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; According to Judith Roberts, program director for ELCA Racial Justice Ministries, the &quot;issue of racial injustice in Baltimore is not the problem. It is only a symptom of the deeply embedded issues of racism and classism that persist within our nation. Privilege and oppression are two sides of the same coin. As long as we have institutions, polices, practices and attitudes that benefit and provide opportunities for white people as a whole while simultaneously denying access, opportunities and resources to people of color, the wounds of racism will continue to fester. Until we come to terms that we share a linked fate and that our lives and communities are intertwined and inseparable, we can never achieve racial unity or harmony in this country.&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>04/29/2015