ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/Psalm speaks to unrest in Iraq, ELCA leader sayshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7692http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7692<div class="ExternalClass18525207B30945C79478553678FAD812"><p> <span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – As the 4 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) gathers for Sunday worship Aug. 17 and shares in the reading of Psalm 133, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of this church, said the Psalm &quot;reminds us of the goodness and blessing of a life lived in unity with one another.&quot;</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In an Aug. 15 letter to the church, Eaton wrote that Psalm 133 generally is &quot;an encouraging Psalm, at a time such as this, when the world seems anything but unified, these words may feel more jarring than inspiring. This is especially so now as news from Iraq continues to worsen.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; About 150,000 people have &quot;recently fled their homes in the wake of attacks from Islamic state militants and their allies. While reports indicate that the immediate threat to many of these precious lives was abated by the delivery of food and water aid, an estimated 300 people, many of them children, still perished from exposure, dehydration and starvation. Reports of attacks, atrocities and human-rights abuses, often targeted at religious minorities and other vulnerable groups cause, our hearts to cry out in lamentation rather than in the hope that this week's Psalm celebrates,&quot; she wrote.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The continued violence in part of Iraq &quot;has put at grave risk the already tenuous security situation of the entire country and diminishes the ability of Iraq's new government to lead with a strong vision of national solidarity and peace,&quot; said the presiding bishop.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Our hearts are heavy with sorrow and concern as we further mourn the violence that has come to typify the news we hear from Iraq. Many of us served or have family or friends who served as U.S. military or security personnel in Iraq or are Iraqis ourselves and are now a part of U.S. communities. The proximity of Iraq in our experience as American Christians heightens our awareness of the continued suffering and increases the depth of our distress and grief.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In what &quot;seems like an endless stream of bad news, the Holy Spirit leads us to ponder these words of the Psalmist&#58; 'How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity,'&quot; Eaton wrote.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Perhaps this Psalm, in this week when the world seems splintered and on the brink of rupture, speaks to us with special encouragement and whispers an enduring word of hope,&quot; she wrote. &quot;Our hearts may cry out in mourning, but God fills us with a desire to follow the words of the Psalmist as we pray for peace and unity. Indeed, how very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The full text of the ELCA presiding bishop's letter is available at <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Iraq_Statement.pdf">http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Iraq_Statement.pdf</a>.<br> - - -<br> About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 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>08/15/2014ELCA presiding bishop urges prayer, peace amid outrage over shooting deathhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7691http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7691<div class="ExternalClass460F3BAE9E0842118EBAC3FC2353A25B"><p> <span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – In response to the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., which has triggered outrage among some area residents and others across the country, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has called for prayer and peace.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Throughout the gospels, Jesus reached out to the 'others,' those whom society deemed utterly foreign. We are at greatest risk when we divide into 'us' and 'them.' Then, we are unable to see each other's humanity,&quot; said Eaton. &quot;In Christ, there is no 'them,' not Michael Brown, not the community, not the police. All are one. All are 'us' and all are Christ's.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We pray that peace will come to Ferguson and the Brown family – peace is founded on the knowledge that in Christ, there is no 'other,' only brothers and sisters,&quot; she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In an effort to bring the community together, the Rev. Rick Brenton, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Ferguson, said thousands of local residents gathered for a peace march Aug. 14.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Last night we came together to march and reclaim the streets,&quot; said Brenton. &quot;Somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 people marched. Clergy from all over the city, from every denomination, creed and origin, came together along with youth and others to peacefully protest. We had also delivered food and toiletries items to residents of the Canfield Green Apartment complex [where police opened fire Aug. 9]. People there are afraid to leave their homes. God's people deserve better than what has been happening.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; According to Brenton, the march and outreach to residents &quot;was a collaborative effort. We came together and made a difference. It's an amazing example of God's love for us. That in Christ, God walks beside us and before us, crossing the boundaries of our lives, exercising the demons of racism, sexism, classism and ageism to bring hope, healing and new life to our community.&quot; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In an Aug. 14 pastoral letter to members and congregations of the ELCA Central States Synod, the Rev. Roger R. Gustafson, bishop of the synod, said that &quot;St. Louis' racial divisions and strife are deeply rooted and complex. Related issues – what has been called the militarization of the police, the lop-sided racial makeup of the Ferguson Police Department itself (nearly all White in a predominantly African American community), (and) a struggling local economy – intensify the conflict.&#160; Related events – store lootings, peaceful street demonstrations and a police response that has treated them alike – further poison the atmosphere.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The various elements of this painful drama carry the temptation of distracting us from an even more painful truth, one that's at the heart of it all&#58; His name was Michael Brown. He was 18 years old. He was Black, and he was killed by a police officer. Had he been White, chances are excellent that he would still be alive,&quot; wrote Gustafson. &quot;But the stark fact of Michael Brown's death under extremely unclear circumstances points our attention to a larger truth&#58; To be born male and African American in this country is to be born into a clear and present danger.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We need to talk about race and privilege, but high-level conversations between groups will take us only so far. There is no substitute for personal relationship, for connecting one to one with someone who is unlike 'us.' Such relating is not comfortable because it has not been the norm. But it is possible and necessary if we want to become more and more the people who trust in God and God's providing more than we trust in ourselves,&quot; he wrote.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; For Judith Roberts, program director for ELCA Racial Justice Ministries, the story of Michael Brown &quot;is becoming all too familiar in the headline. The shooting death of Michael Brown is another example of how young Black and Brown people are targeted in our country. They are stereotyped as a threat, treated as distrustful (and) then it becomes OK to fear them. When you mix that with law enforcement (and) racial profiling, we see the senseless death of a young man with so much promise. I hope and pray the community of Ferguson can work with law enforcement to hold them accountable in improving race relations.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;As this case moves to trial the verdict will determine how this community can move forward. Will we continue to see a justice system that does not value the life of Black and Brown bodies?&#160; The ELCA criminal justice social statement calls for an end to racial profiling, and I believe this church has a responsibility to continue to follow this story,&quot; said Roberts.<br> - - -<br> About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 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>08/15/2014ELCA to provide humanitarian assistance for victims of violence in Gazahttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7690http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7690<div class="ExternalClass384454417C734432844DFA60F552EC3C"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will provide $100,000 in humanitarian assistance to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem to help support the operation of the healthcare system in the midst of the current violence in the Middle East. The funds will be disbursed through Lutheran Disaster Response to The Lutheran World Federation (LWF). <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The hospital, located on the Mount of Olives, is a program of LWF, a global communion of 144 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; “The Augusta Victoria Hospital is providing relief assistance to the people in Gaza through medical teams going into the (Gaza) Strip and by opening its facilities on the Mount of Olives for the treatment of severely injured people, in addition to (providing) psychosocial support to hundreds affected by violence and warfare,” said the Rev. Rafael Malpica, executive director for ELCA global mission. The ELCA provides annual financial support to Augusta Victoria Hospital.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The relief funds will help provide needed medical, nursing and para-medical specialties through teams of between five and 12 professionals in Gaza for 10 days, medications and supplies for cancer patients who can be treated in Gaza, and psychosocial support to cancer patients and families who have been evacuated from Gaza and are receiving treatment at Augusta Victoria Hospital.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The hospital’s CEO, Dr. Tawfiq A. Nassar, wrote in an Aug. 4 email appeal, “Today we started feeling the pain and agony around us and we cannot escape it. A child sleeping on a cardboard next to his father, who is severely injured. Every time I pass, the child is asleep but peaking an eye on his dad, being assured that his dad is still next to him and alive. The child does not want to become an orphan and alone. The hospital grounds (are) full of tents and make-shift houses. It is the safest place in the city. People keep arriving. I do not know how much more the hospital can hold. It is one big refugee camp.”&#160; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 1,800 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting began in July. The majority of those killed are believed to be civilians. News reports estimate almost 10,000 people have been injured.&#160;<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “We pray for the continuation of the present cease-fire that has opened a window for humanitarian assistance to reach Palestinians in Gaza,” said Malpica. “We join millions around the globe praying for peace with justice and security for both Palestinians and Israelis.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In an Aug. 7 e-alert, ELCA members are asked to consider a gift to help those affected by this crisis. “Our brothers and sisters in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land have asked for our help. One way we are responding is through Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem which provides medical services regardless of religious or political affiliation,” the e-alert reads. Financial gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response will be used 100 percent to support humanitarian relief efforts.&#160;&#160;&#160;<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “We pray and hope for a generous response by our members and people of goodwill who would like to join us to help us support these life-saving and life-giving efforts,” said Malpica. “There is too much pain, suffering and death. People need immediate care now.”<br>&#160;Information about Lutheran Disaster Response is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/disaster">www.elca.org/disaster</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 about 4 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>08/08/2014Women of the ELCA concludes Ninth Triennial Gatheringhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7689http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7689<div class="ExternalClass579AD889A7014C05B06B2DB6D55FC4B7"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – Meeting under the theme &quot;of many generations,&quot; the Ninth Triennial Gathering of Women of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) brought more than 2,300 women of all ages to Charlotte, N.C., July 24-27 to share their faith through worship, featured speakers, workshop sessions and more.</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&quot;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Our participants spanned six generations, from 10 months to 97 years old and in that range we find the beauty of inter-generational relationships,&quot; </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">said Linda Post Bushkofsky, executive director, Women of the ELCA. </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&quot;It is in the community of women that our participants find support and creative ways in which to carry out the mission of our organization, mobilizing women to act boldly on their faith in Jesus Christ.&quot;<br></span><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;">Post Bushkofsky said the gathering &quot;formed the space for </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">inter-generational dialogue, and it is my prayer that the conversations begun in Charlotte will grow and expand across the church.&quot;<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;">&#160;&#160;&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;">&#160;</span>In her sermon </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">during the gathering's opening worship, the Rev. Claire Shenot Burkat, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod (based in Philadelphia), said, </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&quot;We will be honoring and remembering generations, the generations of women upon whose shoulders we stand. </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">And we will be dis</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">cerning ways to equip and raise </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">up the next generation for word and witness and service in the world.<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"><span style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;">&#160;&#160;&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;">&#160;</span>&quot;It's time to make the hope of reconciliation healing a reality to wherever we live and work and love and witness. It's time to get to work in this generation, at this time, at this place, at this assembly, at this gathering on repairing the breach,&quot; said Burkat, emphasizing Isaiah 58&#58;12, the gathering's Bible verse.</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">During the event's closing worship</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">, </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">the Rev. Linda Norman, ELCA treasurer, offered thanksgiving for the generations of women who have helped transformed the lives of others. Norman recalled the parable of the woman whose small amount of yeast yielded a large batch of bread</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">. &quot;Yeast, starting as a small morsel, worked by the hands of this faithful woman, has its way and transforms everything, leavening the whole, creating a feast of bread. So with the morsel, God sets about leavening the world,&quot; she said.</span><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 style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;">&#160;&#160;&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;20.799999237060547px;">&#160;</span></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Norman spoke of &quot;the testimony of women, through hardships and triumphs, from women of many generations, morsels filled with all the potential of heaven, worked by the hands of heaven and the creator together, ushering in the reign of God.&quot;<br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160;&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&quot;For all the women, told and untold, who have kneaded dough and planted seeds and worked in kitchens and started movements for mothers and sisters and daughters, keeping the faith, pursuing justice, protecting the children, providing for those in need. When we behold all of us together, it's nothing short of the amazing spirit of God and the reign of God come near,&quot; said Norman. &quot;We celebrate today that in us, in them, God keeps bringing that treasure, what is new and what is old.&quot;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Highlights of th</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">e Gathering included&#58;</span></p><p>+ Featured speaker, the Rev. Susan Sparks, pastor, comedian and former attorney, told the participants that laughter can help repair and rebuild the breaches in life. &quot;Humor is the most powerful gift that we have. I am a big believer that humor is probably one of God's greatest gifts to us,&quot; said Sparks, who added that one of her core messages is the ability to laugh at oneself. &quot;If you can laugh at yourself, you can forgive yourself. And if you can forgive yourself, you can forgive others.&quot;</p><p>+ In her speech to the Gathering, the Rev. Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest who serves as chaplain at St. Augustine's chapel at Vanderbilt University, talked about her work as founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms based in Nashville, Tenn. She shared a message of healing and hope with women around the country. &quot;Can you imagine if we bought into that idea that this faith can really change the world, that it can really restore and heal it, that we can take the worst and the most broken and we can come together in a beautiful and powerful way to preach that love heals?&quot; she asked. The ELCA and The Episcopal Church are full communion partners.</p><p>+ Elaine Neuenfeldt, executive secretary for Women in the Church and Society at The Lutheran World Federation, based in Geneva, Switzerland, spoke to the gathering about the importance of passing along stories to future generations. &quot;Telling stories is a way of engaging in our faith,&quot; she said, emphasizing the power of stories in helping raise awareness of issues such as human trafficking. &quot;Listening and telling is an exercise to keep hope in God. The next generation needs our stories of hope, and it is an important step in our church history, or in our church 'her-story,' to ensure that these little things that we are doing, that you are doing, are registered, are told in the memory of the next generations.&quot; The Ninth Triennial Convention of Women of the ELCA, which preceded the Gathering, approved a memorial to raise awareness and prevention of human trafficking.</p><p>+ Workshop topics ranged from forming a better understanding of mental illness to creating unique giving plans for congregations; from building an inclusive church for people of all sexual orientations to learning tools to helping children who are being bullied.</p><p>+ Servant opportunities offered women a chance to learn and put into practice collective stewardship and discipleship. Activities, which were centered on the gathering's Bible verse, included making quilts to be sent around the world via Lutheran World Relief; learning more about &quot;Raising Up Healthy Women and Girls&quot; – the Women of the ELCA's Health Initiative; and hearing the stories of women in the military, creating safe havens for girls, learning more about the plight of women in the Congo, and community organizing.</p><p>+ Women attending the gathering contributed &quot;in-kind&quot; gifts to support local organizations striving to meet the needs of families experiencing poverty. During the Gathering, women contributed $14,785 in gift cards, 15,877 minutes in phone cards, 6,635 toilette items, 3,717 pairs of socks and underwear, 118 quilt kits, 116 quilts, and 1,508 prayer shawls. Agencies receiving Women of the ELCA in-kind gifts are&#58; The Legacy Hall program of Florence Crittenton Services, The Journey Place program of The Relatives, Faith Farm of Lutheran Services Carolinas, Lutheran World Relief, and Lily Pad Haven.<br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">-</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> - -<br></span><strong style="line-height&#58;1.6;">About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#58;</span></p><p> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 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> 773-380-2877 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><br> <br></p></div>08/01/2014ELCA leaders call for dignity, compassion toward unaccompanied childrenhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7688http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7688<div class="ExternalClass1975AA0C13E84EB581B0AE2EF7D86AF2"><p> <span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – Prior to the U.S. House of Representatives' cancellation July 31 of its vote to provide an emergency response to the tens of thousands of unaccompanied children entering the United States, some members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) had worked to contact their representatives to encourage them to &quot;address the issue with dignity and compassion.&quot;&#160;</span></p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We are at a critical time where Lutherans have an opportunity to make sure our voices of faith and compassion for all of God's children are heard,&quot; according to a July 31 ELCA advocacy alert. The Senate also plans to take up legislation on the issue this week prior to Congress' August recess.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In addition to advocacy efforts, ELCA leaders and members continue to deepen their commitment to learning more about the arrival of unaccompanied children into the United States. A group of ELCA leaders traveled July 16-18 to Texas, where they received on-the-ground experiences from children, as well as the stories of ELCA congregations who are responding.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; According to ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, ELCA congregations and Lutheran social service agencies have been responding to the &quot;50,000 undocumented, unaccompanied minors fleeing terrible poverty and gang violence in their countries. Some of these children in detention are 3 years old. They come with their names either written or sewn onto their clothes.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Not a single one of us could take care of that crisis ourselves, but together we can. And we are hoping to work in those communities who feel so overwhelmed by this wave of people coming … we need to pray for them as well. That's how we are as church together, and we are church for the sake of the world.&quot;&#160; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. Stephen Bouman, who traveled to Texas, said the issue is both global and local &quot;demanding a broad conversation and understanding about the contexts of Central America, Mexico and the United States, and the conditions which 'push' and 'pull' this migration.&quot; Bouman serves as executive director of ELCA Congregational and Synodical Mission. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In visits to children shelters and facilities managed by Lutheran Social Services of the South, based in Austin, Texas, and meetings with ELCA pastors and members to hear about their experiences and response efforts, the issue &quot;became incarnate for me,&quot; said Bouman.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Here were the children who had been on our hearts. A 5-year-old boy smiled at me. He is from El Salvador and crossed the border with his grandmother. The two became separated during intake by border control,&quot; he said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; At a Lutheran Social Services of the South's children shelter in Corpus Christi, Texas, Bouman said ELCA leaders met with more than 100 immigrant children ages 13 to 17. One ELCA member delivered a greeting in Spanish, and another ELCA leader offered a prayer and blessing. Among the many questions about &quot;Where are you from?&quot; and &quot;How long did it take you to get here,&quot; Bouman said that responses from the children who entered the United States were very clear – to escape violence, reunite with family, and seek safety and security. &quot;For some the transit was relatively uneventful. Others were robbed, assaulted or witnessed bad things to others,&quot; he said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We often heard, 'despite what you hear in the media;' we were told about what is really happening,&quot; said Bouman. &quot;Several of us started making myth-busting lists,&quot; he said, such as, &quot;'border crossings are dramatically up' when border crossings are actually down, and that 'unaccompanied minors are carrying drugs' when drugs are not being found on unaccompanied minors from Central America.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; For the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director of ELCA Global Mission, July 16 was a day particularly &quot;filled with intense emotions,&quot; he said. &quot;I listened to stories of the unaccompanied minors. They shared the details of their journey full of dangers and yet of hope. It was better to take the risk of dying in journey than to be killed or becoming a slave.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Two days before the break of World War II more than 10,000 Jewish children from Germany, Poland, Austria and Czechoslovakia were sent by train to Great Britain. The 'Kinderstransport' saved their lives as their parents and relatives provided an escape from the horrors of Nazism and the ruthless and dehumanizing living conditions they were about to face,&quot; said Malpica Padilla.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Today parents from Central American countries, particularly Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, face the same dilemma, and they too have chosen to send their kids to a 'safe place,' where they could seek refuge from the horrors of daily life under the ruthless actions of drug cartels and street gangs,&quot; said Malpica Padilla in a post-trip reflection. &quot;They also take a train known as 'La Bestia,' 'the Beast,' which aptly describes their journey into the U.S. border crossing at the Rio Grande. Rather than being welcomed, as the Kinderstransport kids experienced, they are received with the hate and rancor of communities that see them as intruders, opportunist and law-breakers.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; ELCA leaders also met with some foster families, particular a set of parents who offered to become foster parents when Lutheran Social Services opened this past April its transitional foster care program in Corpus Christi.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Don Jose Ramirez (name changed for protection) and his wife have sponsored more than 80 children as transitional foster parents for these unaccompanied minors after they are legally released by the Border Patrol with a Notice to Appear (NTA) before an immigration judge. The NTA provides for their legal status while waiting for the hearing. When (children) arrive at Don Jose's home, the first thing they see is a sign on the front lawn&#58; &quot;El ultimo paso de una larga jornada&quot; (The last step of a long journey). There they are welcomed. There they experience love, care and compassion, just as the Kinderstransport kids did in Great Britain,&quot; said Malpica Padilla.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;'Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!' I wonder if these words from from Emma Lazarus, inscribed at the foot of Lady Liberty, apply to all or just to some. The Central American children are sent in the hope that they too will find the light in the tier path to freedom,&quot; said Malpica Padilla.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; For more information, visit <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response/Our-Impact/Unaccompanied-and-Migrant-Children">http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response/Our-Impact/Unaccompanied-and-Migrant-Children</a>; the text of the advocacy alert is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=63286196">http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=63286196</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 about 4 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 <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>07/31/2014ELCA members to put their faith into actionhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7687http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7687<div class="ExternalClassF4BA5608A2AD40538B2E1F860853D731"><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; ​CHICAGO (ELCA) – The 4 million members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are being called to put their faith into action and engage in service activities across the country Sept. 7 as part of “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Sunday.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Whether we plant gardens in urban communities, write letters to soldiers and veterans or serve meals to people and families who are food insecure, we dedicate this day to be church together – as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – for the sake of the world,” said the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop, who shares how she plans to spend her day in a video greeting at <a href="http&#58;//bit.ly/1pCrGEN">http&#58;//bit.ly/1pCrGEN</a>.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Now in its second year, “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Sunday is designed to celebrate the mission and ministries of the denomination and invite the nearly 10,000 ELCA congregations to gather together in service in ways that share the love of God with all people.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; A group of 14 ELCA congregations of the ELCA Southeastern Iowa Synod, for example, are banding together to participate in the day of service by partnering with local grocery stores and communities to donate food for local food pantries and more. This effort is a continuation of the synod’s theme from their 2013 Synod Assembly, “When Hungry Hearts Find Bread.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “We hope that the community will see Lutherans being church in the world, responding to the needs of others – in this case those who are hungry,” said the Rev. Travis Fisher, pastor of St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa. “It will also show that we as congregations are working together for the sake of the gospel.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; With the help of the 14 communities, they hope to fill 14 pickup trucks full of non- perishable items as well as inviting members of the community to come worship. At each of the 14 stations, they hope to have eight to 10 people from each congregation to serve as volunteers at a site, working two or three shifts.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Helping to store food is just one example of how ELCA congregations are serving alongside their neighbors. Although the designated day of service is targeted for Sept. 7, 2014, ELCA congregations engage in service projects all-year round.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Our lives have been changed by our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and it’s that encounter with Jesus that frees us to make a difference,” said Eaton.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Information about “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/dayofservice">http&#58;//www.elca.org/dayofservice</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 about 4 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.<br>&#160;By Jeremy Lensing, an intern for ELCA Public Relations and a student at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., majoring in multi-media mass communication and communication studies.<br>For information contact&#58;<br>Melissa Ramirez Cooper, Manager, Public Relations<br><span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space&#58;nowrap;">773-380-2956<a title="Call&#58; 773-380-2956" 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;"><img title="Call&#58; 773-380-2956" alt="" 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 email<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>&#160;<br>&#160;</p></div>07/30/2014