ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/ELCA presiding bishop delivers Christmas messagehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7717http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7717<div class="ExternalClass1665AA3E01304EE6BB6682803A028B2F"><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; ​CHICAGO (ELCA) – In her Christmas message, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), said “The hope of Christmas was fulfilled on Good Friday. The cross is part of Christmas.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton underscored the stress many feel during the Christmas season “to get everything perfect by the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve. We are filled with wistful longing. But what are we longing for?” asked Eaton.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “We long for peace, love and a place to belong. We want to know that someone cares. We want the assurance that all of this means something. And, we try to bring that all about in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The hope of Christmas was fulfilled on Good Friday. The cross is part of Christmas,” said Eaton. “The cross is the Christmas gift, where all of our Christmas glorias are realized in Jesus’ glorification on the cross.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton’s Christmas message is available at <a href="http&#58;//bit.ly/1DRF7gY">http&#58;//bit.ly/1DRF7gY</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 “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>12/22/2014ELCA members promote racial justice on Solidarity Sunday http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7715http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7715<div class="ExternalClass35C082D8FB7E4D0B85482BBAE66BC93B"><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 this church's commitment to racial justice, some congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) participated in Solidarity Sunday Dec. 14 with prayer and engagement with other denominations using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In a December letter to the ELCA Conference of Bishops, an advisory body of this church, the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop, and the Rev. Leonard Bolick, bishop of the ELCA North Carolina Synod, shared an invitation from ecumenical partners – three senior bishops of Black Methodist churches – to participate in Solidarity Sunday. That participation included some ELCA pastors and members attending a march in Washington, D.C.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton and Bolick serve as chairs for the ELCA and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church discourse. A 2011 Statement of Mission between both denominations &quot;reminds us that we 'believe it is time that our churches come together as communities of faith and to know each other in order that we might be more effective as people of God,'&quot; they wrote.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; On Solidarity Sunday, members of Calvary Lutheran Church in Minneapolis wore black as a symbol of solidarity.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;I wore a black academic gown with a stole to help draw attention to our solidarity. We also talked about racial justice and ways to be involved,&quot; said Calvary's pastor, the Rev. Bradley Froslee, who added that some members will also be attending a rally and vigil Dec. 20 at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. Froslee said the plan is to join others at the mall. He added, though, that &quot;the mall has issued a statement (that) because it's private property, people can be suspended from visiting the mall for one year.&quot; Despite the warning and because they are committed to the vigil and racial justice, Froslee said &quot;a handful of our members do plan to attend.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Members of Calvary Lutheran created a race equity team four years ago &quot;to look at how we address racism, White privilege and equity in our congregation and community. Minneapolis has one of the highest disparities in education, employment and general poverty, and we've been addressing that,&quot; said Froslee.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; As part of &quot;ongoing growth,&quot; Froslee said the race equity team continues to lead efforts and that in May 2015 he and his family will travel to South Africa for deeper study. The Rev. Sherman Hicks, an ELCA pastor, will serve as interim pastor of Calvary and &quot;work with the congregation on racial justice and how we continue to build bridges,&quot; Froslee said. &quot;Calvary has had a long history of ongoing commitments to looking at racial justice and reconciliation&quot; and members have learned from pastors who have served the congregation, including the Rev. Earleen Miller, the first African American woman pastor in the Lutheran Church of America – a predecessor church of the ELCA, he said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Following their Dec. 28 worship, members of Augsburg Lutheran Church in Baltimore plan to rally in front of their church building with other partners and &quot;express our voices in support of the struggle or movement that is happening across the country,&quot; said the Rev. Eric T. Campbell of Augsburg. &quot;We will come together wearing black on the front steps of Augsburg.&quot;<br>&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;&quot;The work of racial justice is about aligning the values for fair treatment for all, across all sectors of society with ongoing actions. Whether we are using our voices on social media, joining with others committed to work for justice, or marching in solidarity, it's important to acknowledge efforts happening both individually and collectively across the ELCA,&quot; said Judith Roberts, director for ELCA Racial Justice Ministries.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA's social statement, &quot;Freed in Christ&#58; Race, Ethnicity, and Culture&quot; is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Race-Ethnicity-and-Culture">http&#58;//www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Race-Ethnicity-and-Culture</a> and the social statement, &quot;The Church and Criminal Justice&#58; Hearing the Cries&quot; at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Criminal-Justice#sthash.TyDhiqLD.dpuf">http&#58;//www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Criminal-Justice#sthash.TyDhiqLD.dpuf</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, Manager, Public Relations<br> 773-380-2956 or email <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>12/19/2014ELCA bishops welcome new bishop of Stockport, Church of Englandhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7716http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7716<div class="ExternalClassFA10002F23A8420D8AE7F2F3B88D6628"><p>​&#160;<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), and the Rev. Jessica Crist, bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod and chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops, celebrate the appointment of the Rev. Libby Lane to serve as bishop of Stockport – the first woman bishop in the Church of England.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In a Dec. 18, 2014, letter to Lane, Eaton and Crist wrote&#58; &quot;With great joy we welcome you, our sister in Christ, to the ministry of oversight. We celebrate your appointment with the Church of England and offer our prayers as you take up this new call.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Being 'the first' is a unique and sometimes complicated role. Layers of meaning are placed on even inconsequential actions. One becomes the example of an entire segment of humankind. Wear this lightly,&quot; the ELCA bishops wrote.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;In baptism God's Spirit gave you the gifts that you need to serve in this call. You said yes to God's invitation to serve God's people when you were ordained a deacon and a priest. Now as you prepare to say yes to God's invitation to be a bishop in God's church&#160;be assured of our support,&quot; Eaton and Crist wrote.<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;</p><p>Melissa Ramirez Cooper, Manager, Public Relations<br> 773-380-2956 or email <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><span class="Apple-tab-span" style="white-space&#58;pre;"> </span></div><div><br></div></div>12/19/2014ELCA leaders welcome renewal of diplomatic relations between U.S., Cubahttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7714http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7714<div class="ExternalClassB260F79CC6F440B6A5B185D20E87313F"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – The White House announcement that the United States will renew diplomatic relations with Cuba, as well as take steps toward the long-standing U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, came as welcome news for some members and leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; A Dec. 18, 2014, statement from the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director for ELCA Global Mission, said the announcement may allow for &quot;the reunification of families and for the two nations. For more than 25 years our church has supported steps such as these toward normalization of relations with Cuba and urged our members to support interdependent efforts and relationships among the churches and peoples in the Caribbean region.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;In that spirit,&quot; Malpica Padilla wrote, &quot;the ELCA has had ongoing contacts with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Lutheran Confession in Cuba, the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanzas, and the Ecumenical Council of Cuba to promote dialogue and exchange with the churches in Cuba, as well as provide humanitarian assistance.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Malpica Padilla noted that earlier this year ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton joined 15 other faith leaders in a letter to President Obama that urged him to open a high-level dialogue between the United States and Cuba, permit people-to-people travel more generally, remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and provide opportunities for U.S. citizens to support emerging small businesses and cooperatives in Cuba.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The full text of the statement is available at <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Charting_A_Course_For_Cuba_121814.pdf">http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Charting_A_Course_For_Cuba_121814.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, Manager, Public Relations<br> 773-380-2956 or email <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>12/18/2014ELCA offers prayers for victims of Pennsylvania shootingshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7713http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7713<div class="ExternalClassED03A8B91D64481A992AEDE4BA820781"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Rev. Claire Burkat, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, offered a pastoral message in response to the Dec. 15 shootings that left six people dead and one person severely injured. The suspected gunman was found dead Dec. 16.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Like you, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic series of murders that transpired across Montgomery County yesterday. A family has suffered unspeakable loss, and that loss ripples through the relatives, friends and neighbors who are grieving,” said Burkat in her statement.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Sadly we see stories like this play out in our media on a regular basis. But it is different when violence strikes close to home,” the statement continued. “It brings up a deeper fear, but it also allows us to respond in compassion and prayer to those near us who have been devastated by tragedy. I urge you, in your personal devotions and in your congregation's worship, to hold all who have been affected by these tragedies in God's mercy and compassion.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. Thomas E. Kadel, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Kulpsville, Pa., organized a prayer vigil for members of the community who needed a place “for prayer and reflection.” Many of those who attended the service lived in the apartment building where one of the victims also lived. Kadel said the vigil was a “ministry of presence rather than a ministry of words.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “In communities such as these people are, sadly, growing accustomed to reading about gun violence but are surprised and dazed when that violence comes close to home,” said Kadel, who also serves as a disaster chaplain through Lutheran Disaster Response in eastern Pennsylvania.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “We all carry deep within us what has been called a sacred story – an understanding of how life operates and how we operate within it,” said Kadel. “That sacred story is largely unconscious to us. However, when unexpected tragedy strikes, that sacred story may be damaged or worse. Immediately after a tragedy, it is important for people to hear their worries and confusions and those of others, and with helpful guidance, can begin to forge that new story. All of this, of course, for us Christians has deep faith implications and can be cast in images and language that draw directly from our faith.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. Dr. Jennifer Phelps Ollikainen, executive director for Lutheran Congregational Services, a ministry of Liberty Lutheran in Allentown, Pa., said her role during these situations is to make sure churches are responding to the needs of the community. The ministry is an affiliate of Lutheran Disaster Response.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “In the end, we hope this starts a conversation about who we are as a community and how we can help each other,” said Ollikainen.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Many will ask, ‘Where was God?’ said Burkat in her statement. “The promise of the incarnation of Christ, which we celebrate next week, is that God is right here with us in the midst of tragedy and suffering of all kinds. And we know that God works through us, and our concern and compassion for those who suffer in any way. As our region continues to comprehend and process these horrific events, I call each of us to prayer and to reach out, where we can, to comfort the grieving and frightened and provide safe spaces for people to try to make sense of these tragedies.”</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>12/16/2014John I. William Jr. to become president of ELCA’s Muhlenberg Collegehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7712http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7712<div class="ExternalClassB488B7F9FD6546F191D34FFE02F91E26"><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) – John I. Williams Jr. will become the 12th president of Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pa., effective July 1, 2015. Muhlenberg is one of 26 colleges and universities of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Muhlenberg's Board of Trustees, advised by a search committee, voted unanimously to appoint Williams at the conclusion of a national search that began in February 2014. Randy Helm will conclude his 12-year tenure as president of the college June 30, 2015.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Williams is the first African American ELCA college and university president, according to the Rev. Mark N. Wilhelm, director for schools, colleges and universities, ELCA Congregational and Synodical Mission. &quot;I am delighted to welcome John Williams into our ELCA higher education community, and I look forward to working with him to continue and enhance the mission of Muhlenberg College,&quot; he said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In a statement to the search committee, Williams wrote&#58; &quot;I am drawn to the opportunity to lead Muhlenberg first by my deep passion for the liberal arts, the performing arts, pre-professional programs and the power of transformational learning more broadly.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Alumni of liberal arts colleges number disproportionately among the nation and the world's leaders. The quality of mind nurtured at Muhlenberg and other fine, liberal arts colleges – promoting close collaboration between students and faculty in a residential setting – is more likely to confront future challenges in a nuanced and conceptually-integrated manner that will lead to wiser decisions. Our nation and our world have never needed graduates of liberal arts colleges more than now,&quot; he wrote.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In 1975, Williams earned a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude from Amherst College in Amherst, Mass. In 1979, he earned a law degree at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass., and master's degree in business administration at Harvard Business School.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Williams joined Bain and Company in Boston, and he was the first person of color hired by the firm. Five years later, Williams left Bain to co-launch Softbridge Microsystems. He also served as vice president of strategic planning at American Express in New York, where he led the U.S. Platinum Card business and the U.S. Consumer Travel Network.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In 1996, Williams left American Express to become the chief executive officer of Biztravel.com, and since 2000, he has led a number of entrepreneurial ventures and has engaged in strategy consulting in non profit and higher education sectors. He led the consulting unit of Eduventures and served as a partner in the higher education practice at The Bridgespan Group. During this time, Williams worked with a number of colleges, universities and other educational institutions. He also served for the past four years as an expert-in-residence at Harvard's Innovation Lab.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Williams and his wife, Diane Pierce-Williams, have three adult children and one grandchild. Diane is a former member of the faculty of the Loyola University New Orleans' College of Law and a former trustee of Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., and Goucher College in Towson, Md.<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, Manager, Public Relations<br> 773-380-2956 or <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/tools/secure_emailer?a=TWVsaXNzYS5SYW1pcmV6Q29vcGVyQGVsY2Eub3Jn&amp;b=TmV3cw==&amp;subject=News&amp;body="> email </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>12/08/2014