ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/ELCA presiding bishop continues call for conversation on racial equityhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7732http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7732<div class="ExternalClass3EBA8B6146984AAC99D291A9539E4E8B"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;CHICAGO (ELCA) – Citing recent events across the United States, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), noted that &quot;we are not living in a post-racial society.&quot; In a March 25 letter and video message to the 3.8 million-member church, Eaton expressed the need for conversation – not only among Lutherans but &quot;all Americans&quot; – about racism in &quot;honest and productive ways.&quot;</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;I know it's difficult to talk about race because too many Americans do not want to believe racism still exists in our country,&quot; Eaton said. &quot;Yet, as always, Christ promises to be alongside us, even in the most difficult of times, working for our reconciliation. Because of God's promise, we can and must have a deep, honest and even painful conversation about racism.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In her letter and video, Eaton commends a list of resources and background materials to help the nearly 10,000 congregations of the ELCA to engage &quot;in this important conversation.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The full text of the letter is available at <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Bishop_Message_RacialJustice.pdf">http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Bishop_Message_RacialJustice.pdf</a> and a video message at <a href="http&#58;//youtu.be/9YuMSc6XlzA">http&#58;//youtu.be/9YuMSc6XlzA</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>03/25/2015ELCA delegation hears ‘harrowing’ stories of migrant minors, seeks greater church responsehttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7731http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7731<div class="ExternalClassFD9944B3D17B48BD84DBF25E196900A1"><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) – With the recent surge of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children arriving in the United States from Central America, leaders and members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are learning more about the root causes of migration.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Since 2014, the ELCA has been responding to the needs of children and families with efforts ranging from ensuring appropriate legal representation to foster care, from providing &quot;wrap around&quot; services during their time in the United States to connecting children and families with ELCA congregations. ELCA members are also urging Congress for comprehensive immigration reform, humanitarian assistance and the humane treatment of migrants in transit.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In a February 2015 trip to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, an ELCA delegation led by the Rev. Stephen Bouman, executive director of ELCA Congregational and Synodical Mission, and the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director of ELCA Global Mission, met with Lutheran leaders and pastors in these countries who told about the displacement of people due to gang violence, poverty, inept governments and repatriation.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Gang violence (in these countries) is very pervasive. If you don't comply, death is certain and swift,&quot; said Bouman. &quot;During our trip, we heard the testimonies of mothers and children attempting to flee gang violence and survive the horrendous journey&quot; from Central America to the United States through Mexico, said Bouman. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In a March 7 conversation with ELCA bishops whose synods have a &quot;companion relationship&quot; with Lutheran churches in Central America and in a March 11 presentation to staff of the ELCA churchwide organization, Malpica Padilla and Bouman told the story of &quot;Jessica,&quot; a 45-year-old mother of three who fled her home. Jessica, a circulation manager for a major newspaper who lost her job four years ago and still unable to find work, fled in fear for her children's safety – her young son witnessed his friend shot to death by gangs. In her attempted journey to the United States, Jessica was abused and apprehended by immigration officials as she and her children sought refuge in a cave. Jessica and her children have since been deported. &quot;Poverty is a key factor in migration, made worse by violence,&quot; said Bouman. &quot;As Jessica shared her story with us, she spoke of her deep faith. She spoke of the Good Shepherd,&quot; said Bouman. &quot;Multiply her story by 30, and that's all we heard during our trip.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;If you cross the Rio Grande, you've made it. Going across the desert in Texas or Arizona, although challenging, is at times easier than other dangers faced during the journey, particularly once the migrant enters Mexico,&quot; said Malpica Padilla. &quot;Hundreds of travelers are kidnapped by cartels that extort money from their relatives. People riding on the train known as 'La Bestia,' who encounter dreaded (drug cartels), are robbed and assaulted and even killed to harvest their organs for the illegal but profitable human organs trade,&quot; he said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;As we bore witness to these testimonies, the delegation felt compelled to commit to work and invite the entire ELCA to respond,&quot; said Bouman. Members of the delegation were the Rev. Raquel Rodriguez, director for the Latin America and Caribbean desk, ELCA Global Mission; the Rev. Michael Stadie, director, Lutheran Disaster Response-U.S.; Stephen Deal, ELCA regional representative for Central America; the Rev. Stacy L. Martin, director for advocacy ELCA Washington Office; Alaide Vilchis Ibarra, assistant director for migration policy and advocacy; Bouman; and Malpica Padilla.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; On behalf of the delegation, Malpica Padilla and Bouman are encouraging members of this church to continue the call for comprehensive immigration reform stemming from actions of ELCA churchwide assemblies; to support the work of Lutheran social ministry organizations, ELCA synods and congregations working to meet the needs of migrants and serving as places of welcome and hospitality; and to support ELCA advocacy efforts designed to encourage U.S. elected officials to support fair, effective and transparent policies that address humanitarian assistance in Central America and that advocate for the humane treatment of migrants in transit, particularly in Mexico.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We must continue with ongoing activities in support of the migrants and even expand our services on both sides of the border,&quot; said Malpica Padilla. &quot;However, we must understand these are transitory measures. We must pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;When parents determine that migrating to another country is not only the best option but the only option in preserving the lives of their children, something is terribly wrong,&quot; said Martin. &quot;Such is the dire situation in Central America's Northern Triangle. And, while the causes of this refugee crisis are many and complex, U.S. foreign policy and involvement in the region has contributed in creating the current context that breeds violence and poverty,&quot; she said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;It is harrowing and heartbreaking to hear stories from people who live in constant fear and who harbor no hope for the future of their community or country,&quot; said Martin. &quot;We cannot allow complexity and magnitude to be excuses in our attempt to best accompany our partners in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala in addressing the issues at hand. Unless we engage on every possible front, the refugee crisis will not abate. This is why it is so important to understand the root causes at play in this crisis and to act in a concerted manner on many levels, most especially on advocating that the U.S. government invest generously and wisely in the area and ensure that aid and policy are implemented without an undue reliance on militarization.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Prior to their trip to Central America, the delegation visited a detention center in Artesia, N.M. &quot;We saw women and children literally behind bars,&quot; said Bouman.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. H. Julian Gordy – bishop of the ELCA Southwestern Synod, Atlanta, and chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops' Immigration Ready Bench – and the Rev. Michael W. Rinehart – bishop of the ELCA Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, Houston, and a member of the board of directors for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Baltimore – this spring will be visiting a detention center in Dilly, Texas.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The Immigration Ready Bench of the Conference of Bishops exists to affect public policy around immigration issues,&quot; said Gordy. &quot;Working closely with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, members of the Ready Bench make annual visits to members of Congress and the administration in Washington encouraging the passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation,&quot; he said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;In addition, the ready bench members have written op-ed pieces for newspapers and on some occasions testified in Congress on behalf of immigrants and refugees. Currently, the ready bench is hoping to draw attention to the unfortunate incarceration of migrant women and children in detention facilities across the country,&quot; said Gordy.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In the ELCA Southwest California Synod, pastors and members have started the Guardian Angels program in an effort to accompany children and teenagers from Central America apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. Many of the children and teenagers face deportation hearings alone.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We want judges and others to know that we are there to help the children and families (navigate) through courtroom hearings, especially for those who do not have lawyer representation. We work to send the message that there are people who care for these children,&quot; said Maria Paiva, director for evangelical mission, ELCA Southwest California Synod and a coordinator of the Guardian Angels program. The program was started by the Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, an ELCA pastor. There are about 40 volunteers in the program trained by the National Lawyers' Guild. Volunteers take notes during court proceedings, monitoring for possible violations of the children's legal rights.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; When volunteers accompany children during court proceedings, they wear special T-shirts that depict an angel protecting children. Paiva said the shirts help signal their presence to the judges.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;I have seen miracles in terms of how judges and lawyers change their attitudes when they see us accompany the children,&quot; said Paiva, who has attended more than 30 hearings.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;All of us have been blessed by God in wonderful ways,&quot; said Paiva. &quot;We can show this love to others who need compassion.&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 Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org <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>&#160; &#160;&#160;</p></div>03/19/2015ELCA’s comprehensive campaign celebrates first year with nearly $45 million raisedhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7730http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7730<div class="ExternalClass0D2C53679ACA41869FA9A09522C69811"><p>&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;&#160;CHICAGO (ELCA)<strong> </strong>– The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) first comprehensive campaign, <em>Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA</em>, is celebrating the completion of its first year with nearly $45 million raised, representing 23 percent of the five-year, $198 million Jan. 31, 2019, goal. In addition, the campaign has received another $3.4 million in current gift commitments and $10.8 million in planned gifts commitments to the priorities of the campaign.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;In the first year of our first-ever comprehensive campaign, we achieved more than 23 percent of our goal. We are actually slightly ahead of our goal,&quot; said the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop. &quot;This points to the abundance of God, the generosity of our people and the hard work of our campaign staff. I am excited and encouraged.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Officially launched Feb. 1, 2014, the five-year campaign seeks to raise $198 million to help sustain and grow the ministries of this church through four priorities – Congregations, Hunger and Poverty, Leadership, and Global Church. The additional resources will provide the ELCA with opportunities to deepen relationships and expand ministries that serve communities in the United States and around the world.</p><p>First-year gifts to the campaign already are making an impact throughout our church&#58; </p><ul><li>In addition to placing 21 percent more volunteers this year than last, ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission launched a new country program in Rwanda this past fall and will launch the Cambodia program in August.</li><li>Twenty new-start ministries were approved to start already in 2015 with a goal of 50 additional proposals for the remainder of this year.</li><li>The ELCA Malaria Campaign is nearing its financial goal of $15 million and the program is active in 13 countries.</li><li>The first class of International Leaders – Women will be starting at six ELCA colleges, universities and seminaries this fall.</li></ul><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We're off to a great start because of our donors. It is wonderful what we have accomplished together as church this first year of the campaign; people are responding very generously,&quot; said the Rev. Ron Glusenkamp, director for the campaign. &quot;As we enter the second year of this five-year campaign, we give thanks to God for the excellent foundation of gifts already given and look forward to increasing those gifts so we are able to do more together in Christ's name.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In its second year, the campaign is focused on the Congregations priority, including ELCA New Congregations, Renewing Congregations and Disability Ministries. This priority gives ELCA members and supporters the opportunity to share the love of Jesus far and wide by starting more congregations, discovering innovative ways to grow and renew our existing communities of faith, and expanding our ministries with people living with disabilities.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;As Bishop Eaton says, 'At the heart of what we do together as church is worship. And at the heart of our worship is the crucified, risen Christ.' So this year, as we focus on working with congregations — both new and renewing — and people living with disabilities, we are raising awareness and funds to not only grow in our life of word and sacraments but to be spiritually renewed, together,&quot; said Glusenkamp.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Through several featured priorities, <em>The Campaign for the ELCA</em> seeks to&#58;</p><ul><li>Increase this church's capacity to support congregational renewal and the planting of new congregations</li><li>Form and support new lay, ordained and global leaders for mission</li><li>Encourage and form lay youth and young adult leaders</li><li>Support this church's disability ministry</li><li>Bolster our commitment to walk with global companion churches in shared witness</li><li>Expand our efforts to address poverty and hunger<br><br>Information about <em>The Campaign for the ELCA</em> is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/campaign">www.ELCA.org/campaign</a>.​</li></ul><p><strong>- - -<br>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 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<br> Associate Director, Publications and Public Relations<br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">773-380-2956 or </span><a href="mailto&#58;Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org" style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org</a><br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">ELCA News&#58; </span><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news" style="line-height&#58;1.6;">www.ELCA.org/news</a><br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Facebook&#58; </span><a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans" style="line-height&#58;1.6;">www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a><br><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Living Lutheran&#58; </span><a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/" style="line-height&#58;1.6;">www.livinglutheran.com</a></p></div>03/18/2015ELCA Conference of Bishops recommends unifying lay rosters, considers other businesshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7729http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7729<div class="ExternalClassA00BA21C50D148C4BBDE6B6D43BD84CB"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; ITASCA, Ill. (ELCA) – The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) gathered here March 5-10 to continue their conversation and consideration on this church's proposals to form one unified roster of Word and Service. The conference also considered an array of topics ranging from theological education to mission support, from immigration reform to the means of grace, from the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 to </span><em style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA</em><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> and more.</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The conference is an advisory body of the ELCA that includes 65 synod bishops, the presiding bishop and secretary. It gathers at least twice a year for worship and study, sharing and to conduct business. The Rev. Jessica R. Crist, bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod, is conference chair.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Conference of Bishops continued its conversation, offering perspectives about the formation of a single ELCA roster. The ELCA's study and dialogue about the work and ministry of its lay rosters began in 2007, which lead to the ELCA Church Council appointing a Word and Service Task Force to continue overseeing this process. A discernment team was also appointed to give particular attention to the &quot;entrance rite&quot; for the roster and to offer a recommendation about this rite for consideration by the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; After a series of conversations, the Conference of Bishops recommended that the ELCA Church Council move forward on unifying the three lay rosters – associates in ministry, deaconesses and diaconal ministers – but delay consideration of the entrance rite &quot;and related issues.&quot; Currently, associates in ministry are commissioned; deaconesses and diaconal ministers are consecrated. A decision will need to be made about the appropriate entrance rite for the unified roster. In its recommendation, the conference expressed its &quot;deep gratitude&quot; to the ELCA Word and Service Task Force and to the Entrance Rite Discernment Group.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;On one level, the move from three lay rosters to one roster of Word and Service appears simple. It actually is quite complex,&quot; said the Rev. William O. Gafkjen in an interview. Gafkjen is bishop of the ELCA Indiana-Kentucky Synod and a member of the Word and Service Task Force and chair of the Entrance Rite Discernment Group.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;This change connects with deeply held, often differing, convictions about orders and offices of ministry, the vocation of all the baptized to serve in the world today, and the most helpful ways to honor, celebrate and exercise the gifts of all who serve in public ministry,&quot; Gafkjen said<em>.</em><br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Ecumenical, global Lutheran and multicultural relationships and realities are also part of the complexity. The rite by which people are entered onto a roster of public ministers connects with these and other concerns. The recommendation of the Conference of Bishops is intended to both keep us moving forward in more clearly defining and honoring ministries of Word and Service in 2016 and move together into the emerging future through ample and appropriate time and process for engaging as many people as possible across this church in deep discernment around theological, confessional and mission-focused concerns,&quot; he said. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We are church together,&quot; said ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton in her report to the conference. Referencing her recent ecumenical pilgrimage to London, Geneva and Rome, she said the trip &quot;made it absolutely clear to me that the ELCA is part of the church that spans the globe and the centuries. It's not just about us. It's not just about now. When we consider issues like the ecclesiology of a global church, the entrance rite for the Word and Service roster, ministry to and with same-gender families, or discuss 'The Use of the Means of Grace,' it is never, nor can it ever be, a conversation we have just among ourselves.&quot; <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In her report to the conference, Eaton highlighted the observance of the 500<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the Reformation – under the theme &quot;Freed and Renewed in Christ&quot; – as &quot;another component in strengthening our Lutheran identity.&quot; The theme will be the same for the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Lutherans show up – as the ELCA and as The Lutheran World Federation. Together, with our companions in Central America, we are working with unaccompanied minors and the conditions in their countries of origin that force these children to flee,&quot; Eaton said in her written report. &quot;Through the LWF, we work with refugees and internally displaced people in Syria, Cameroon, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Kenya, Jordan, Ukraine, Iraq and many other places. We have made significant progress in controlling malaria and treating Ebola. We are developing a social statement on the social issue of 'Women and Justice' and a proposed social message on gender-based violence. We will begin the process of developing a vision statement on inter-religious relations.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;All of this good and hard, sometimes dangerous, work is work that we are able to do because we are church abiding in Christ, God's beloved people gathered around word and sacraments,&quot; wrote Eaton.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Conference of Bishops received reports from the ELCA secretary, treasurer and others, along with updates on various ministries of this church&#58;<br> + Secretary Wm Chris Boerger addressed matters related to the 2016 Churchwide Assembly, such as the election of churchwide officers.</p><p>+ Treasurer Linda Norman reported that the ELCA churchwide organization had total operating revenue and support of $71.5 million for the 12-month period ending Jan. 31, 2015 – $1.1 million greater than expenses of $70.3 million. Net revenue over expenses is favorable to the period budget by $1.1 million, but $1.8 million less than the 12 months ending Jan. 31, 2014. Norman said <em>Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA </em>has raised $48.2 million in revenue and commitments. This amount represents 24.4 percent of the total five-year goal of $198 million by Jan. 31, 2019.</p><p>+ Received an update and discussed the work of the ELCA Mission Support Think Tank. &quot;The Mission Support Think Tank, appointed by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton to address in new ways the decline in mission support in our church body, presented a third draft of the report which will be presented to the Church Council at its April meeting,&quot; said the Rev. H. Julian Gordy, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Synod, Atlanta.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The report discusses challenges and opportunities in this church's financial support of its mission and makes several recommendations to the Church Council, including some experiments that might be undertaken. The Think Tank is collecting and incorporating responses to the report from the conference and from churchwide staff,&quot; he said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Our report stresses that mission support is chiefly about God's mission of blessing and redeeming the whole creation in Jesus Christ. We are trying to re-imagine all of the ways we garner, steward and invest the financial resources that God's people share for the sake of God's mission,&quot; said Gordy.</p><p>+ Received a report and discussed the work of the ELCA Theological Education Advisory Council. The advisory council's work continues, &quot;looking at the whole range of theological education across the ELCA,&quot; said the Rev. James Hazelwood, bishop of the ELCA New England Synod, Worcester, Mass. &quot;This includes, but is not limited to, seminary education. As an example, we are exploring ways to expand resources for lay education, in particular lay evangelists,&quot; he said.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The advisory council &quot;has also explored ways to make continuing education something that is more available for our rostered leaders. We believe that in a changing world, it is essential to have our rostered leaders be lifelong learners,&quot; said Hazelwood.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;A highlight of the Conference of Bishops was our Saturday afternoon sessions in which bishops proposed and led interest groups on subjects ranging from mobility and call process to immigration, from the ecclesiology of the global church, to funding the mission of the church,&quot; said Crist. &quot;In addition, bishops engaged in advocacy across the church,​ met in 'ready benches' relating to specific areas in which the ELCA has an interest and does advocacy,&quot; said Crist.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In other business, the Conference of Bishops&#58;<br> + Moved to encourage the continued development of the Declaration on the Way (to unity) between Lutherans and Roman Catholics and affirmed to the ELCA Church Council the final report of the Ecclesiology of the Global Church Task Force, which is exploring how the ELCA can affirm its self-understanding as part of The Lutheran World Federation – a global communion of 144 member churches representing more than 72 million Christians. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.<br> + Learned more about the ELCA's active response efforts to the increasing number of unaccompanied children and families entering the United States, primarily from Central America. The Rev. Michael W. Rinehart, bishop of the ELCA Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, Houston, led a conversation about &quot;A Lutheran Welcome.&quot; He told the conference that there are more than 200 million migrants worldwide – people who are moving from one place to another – and half of them are Christian. &quot;The United States is where many want to come,&quot; he said. &quot;How are we, as Christian people, welcoming them?&quot; The Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, executive director, ELCA Congregational and Synodical Mission, and the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director, ELCA Global Mission, held a special conversation about their journeys to parts of the United States and Central America to learn more about the local and global situation surrounding the &quot;push&quot; factors of migration from Central America to the United States and the treatment of migrants that are in transit.<br> + Received an update and discussed the work of the Ministry to and with Same Gender Couples and their Families Working Group. According to the Rev. Mary S. Froiland, bishop of the ELCA South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis., &quot;This group is working hard together. It may be one of the few places in our denomination where intentional conversation navigating a variety of convictions is taking place.&quot;<br> + Had discussions about the draft of the proposed Message on Gender Based Violence. The ELCA Church Council authorized a social message on gender-based violence as a means to encourage learning and moral discourse. The current timeline, revised from an original timeline, calls for a social message to be considered by the Church Council in April 2015.<br> + Received an update and discussed this church's conversation about <em>The Use of the Means of Grace</em> based on the study guide, &quot;Table and Font&#58; Who is Welcome?&quot;<br> + Considered requests and made decisions related to the ELCA roster of ordained ministers.<br> + Received an update on the ELCA Youth Gathering taking place in Detroit, July 15-19, 2015. More than 27,000 have registered.<br> + Received a report from ELCA Vice President Carlos Pena. In his written report, Pena noted that the ELCA Malaria Campaign has raised more than $13.5 million. &quot;This campaign is about changing communities and saving lives,&quot; said Pena. &quot;What a blessing it is to be a part of such a generous church that can make such a difference in people's lives.&quot;<br> + Received reports from the Rev. Walter S. May, assistant to the presiding bishop, executive for ELCA Synodical Relations; the Rev. Eric Wester, assistant to the presiding bishop and director for ELCA Federal Chaplaincies; the Rev. Jeffry D. Thiemann, president and CEO, Portico Benefit Services; and Marcia Johnson, program director, ELCA Synodical Services, who spoke &#160;on the ELCA mobility call process.<br> + Heard reflections on recent pilgrimages to the Middle East and Europe. ELCA Presiding Bishop Eaton led both journeys.<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<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>03/12/2015ELCA members participate in 50th anniversary of Selma-to-Montgomery marchhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7728http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7728<div class="ExternalClass8081513061D645D49885FD8C00FEA225"><p>​&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – Some members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) joined civil rights activists, faith leaders and elected officials, including President Barack Obama, in Alabama March 7-8 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Judith Roberts, program director for ELCA Racial Justice Ministries, attended the anniversary events. “My grandfather, CC Bryant, testified before the United States Civil Rights Commission in February 1965. His testimony, along with several others, named the racial discrimination and intimidation experienced by African Americans (who were) trying to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Today, we are still facing voter disenfranchisement through public policies in the form of preserving state’s rights (through) voter identification legislation and the criminal justice system that can temporarily or permanently deny access to the ballot,” she said.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; On March 7, 1965, protestors demonstrating for the right to vote departed Selma for Montgomery and were met by law enforcement as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The events of that day – also known as Bloody Sunday, – led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “This moment in our current history is about lifting up the values of living in an electoral democracy where every citizen should have the right to cast a ballot for the elected officials that will represent their communities. This church adopted a social statement policy to ensure just that,” said Roberts.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA 2013 Churchwide Assembly asked ELCA members to call on local, state and federal governments to guarantee the right to vote to all citizens and to discourage or eliminate all laws, ordinances or regulations that would have the effect of racial and ethnic discrimination in the exercise of that right. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA social statement &quot;Freed in Christ&#58; Race, Ethnicity, and Culture” was adopted by the ELCA 1993 Churchwide Assembly. The statement expresses the ELCA’s calling to regard seriously culture and ethnicity, confront racism, to engage in public leadership, witness and deliberation, and to advocate for justice and fairness for all people.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The Rev. Joseph Ellwanger, Hephatha Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, also attended the&#160; anniversary commemoration. In March 1965, Ellwanger, then pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Birmingham, Ala., was chosen by Martin Luther King Jr. to be the only White pastor among 14 pastors who met with Alabama’s Gov. George Wallace at the end of the Selma to Montgomery march. Ellwanger, who served at St. Paul’s from 1958 – 1967, became involved in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and worked with King.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Nathanial Viets-VanLear, an ELCA member from Chicago who traveled to Alabama for the anniversary, said the events in Selma are important “not as an observation of a moment in history, but as a reminder that the past and present are only two parts of a continuum. Already steeped in the Black-lives-matter movement in Chicago, I traveled to Selma to offer testament to the fact that a movement began long before I arrived on this earth, through the work of many young men and women before me,” he said.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “This trip is an important moment in time for me,” said Ryan Martin-Yates, an ELCA member from Oklahoma City, Okla. “I've grown up always oriented towards seeking justice, but only recently have I found the bravery to use my voice in that. This past year has been a year of growth that has been facilitated by what has gone on in this country and how those events began to affect my daily life. For me, this weekend was a moment to reflect on a powerful moment in our country's history and to engage in dialogue about how the fight for justice is to keep moving 50 years later.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “I am attending for those who stood 50 years ago and were knocked down, beaten and humiliated because they wanted the right to have a voice. Those who were denied but never gave up,” said Jackie Maddox, office manager for the ELCA Advocacy office in Washington, D.C. “Fifty years later I want to stand for the people, including my parents, who struggled for me and are the reason why I and many others can vote today. Although the events that led up to having a right to vote were horrific, I will feel privileged to be among people who fought for justice and won.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Ian McConnell, from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, also attended the 50th anniversary events. “I am a White, middle-class male originally from the suburbs of Minneapolis. In the cultural and social systems I grew up in, this has afforded me a louder microphone than many others have the privilege of having. I feel called to listen, to learn, and then to strategically speak into issues of injustice.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA's social statement “Freed in Christ&#58; Race, Ethnicity, and Culture” is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Race-Ethnicity-and-Culture">www.ELCA.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Race-Ethnicity-and-Culture</a>. The social statement “The Church and Criminal Justice&#58; Hearing the Cries” is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Criminal-Justice">www.ELCA.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Criminal-Justice</a>. The ELCA’s social policy resolution “Voting Rights To All Citizens” is available at <a href="http&#58;//bit.ly/19a0blJ">http&#58;//bit.ly/19a0blJ</a>.</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 &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br>Candice Hill Buchbinder<br><span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space&#58;nowrap;">773-380-2877<a title="Call&#58; 773-380-2877" href="#" style="margin&#58;0px;border&#58;currentcolor;left&#58;0px;top&#58;0px;width&#58;16px;height&#58;16px;right&#58;0px;bottom&#58;0px;overflow&#58;hidden;vertical-align&#58;middle;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline;white-space&#58;nowrap;position&#58;static !important;"></a></span> or <a href="mailto&#58;Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</a><br><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news">http&#58;//www.ELCA.org/news</a> <br>Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans">http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a> <br>Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</a><br></p></div>03/10/2015ELCA looks ahead to 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformationhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/7727http://elca.org/News-and-Events/7727<div class="ExternalClassF02193BB792045D382E00055CDBB88FD"><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; CHICAGO (ELCA) – As a church that believes the good news of Jesus Christ provides “the freedom and the courage to boldly participate in what God is up to in the world,” members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are making plans for the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in October 2017. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The evangelical Lutheran Reformation offers the promise of God’s love that makes possible a life of a living, daring confidence in God’s grace,” said the Rev. Marcus Kunz, assistant to the ELCA presiding bishop and executive for theological discernment.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; On Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther, an Augustine monk, posted his “Ninety-five Theses” to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, protesting the sale of indulgences by the Catholic Church.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “When Martin Luther posted his ‘Ninety-Five Theses’ the resulting debate about Christian teaching and practice led to changes that have shaped the course of western Christianity for almost 500 years,” said Kunz. “At the heart of these wide-reaching changes was a deep conviction that God’s mercy or grace in Jesus is given freely to all. Some of the familiar ways of talking about Jesus in our time have left some people cold, feeling trapped or demeaned.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Kunz said the 500th anniversary observance is an opportunity for the ELCA “to give fresh expression of the liberating and renewing hope in Christ that Martin Luther described.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Under the theme, “Freed and Renewed in Christ&#58; 500 Years of God’s Grace in Action,” the ELCA’s 500th anniversary observance will include featured events for ELCA members to participate in the 500th anniversary through worship, learning and service. <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The events include the 2015 Worship Jubilee in Atlanta in July, which is being planned in collaboration with the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians. In 2016, the Grace Gathering will be held in the summer along with the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Grace Gathering events will provide an opportunity for ELCA members to join (the (Churchwide Assembly’s) voting members and others in celebrating the Reformation, planning and preparing for local and regional activities related to the Reformation anniversary and most importantly being renewed in that ‘living, daring confidence in God’s grace’ Luther described,” said Kunz.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The 500th anniversary observance, led by ELCA churchwide staff and an executive planning team, will also encourage and support initiatives across the ELCA’s 65 synods, nearly 10,000 congregations and other institutions.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Across the globe, Lutherans and other heirs of the Reformation are noting its 500th anniversary with a wide variety of activities along a broad spectrum of emphases and interests,” said Martin Seltz, publisher for worship, music and congregational life for Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis, and a member of the planning team.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “Lutherans in the ELCA share in that diversity,” said Seltz. “As I see it, the churchwide organization of the ELCA has a role in encouraging its congregations and other expressions to consider and shape meaningful, edifying and forward-looking observances that are appropriate to their contexts.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In helping to implement events and activities, Seltz said the planning team bears in mind “the richness and complexity this observance brings” including “thanksgiving for the heritage and gifts of the Reformation, honesty about continuing divisions in church and world, attention to Lutheran vitality far beyond its northern European roots, and commitment to a vigorous future of freedom and renewal in Christ for the sake of the world.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Kunz said for many Lutherans in the United States, the northern European identity “isn’t an adequate way of understanding who we are. For one thing, many Lutherans in the United States have a very different experience that has informed their identity. Most importantly, what we bring to others in the Christian community and the world is the message of God’s promise in Christ and a faith that lives in the freedom this gracious promise brings, enjoying the renewal found in a life of loving service to others.”<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The 500th anniversary observance will also include ecumenical and inter-faith activities, including participation in The Lutheran World Federation and other global observances.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The 500th observance of the Reformation will be the first centennial anniversary to have a strong ecumenical dimension,” said Kathryn M. Lohre, assistant to the ELCA presiding bishop and executive for ecumenical and inter-religious relations. “Fifty years of Lutheran-Catholic dialogue in the United States and internationally have produced significant fruits, including the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.” <br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; With the signing of the Joint Declaration on Oct. 31, 1999, 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. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; “The reform and renewal of the Reformation cannot be understood apart from the division of the church. As we seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the face of contemporary challenges, may we understand the ongoing nature of the Reformation to include reconciliation with our Christian sisters and brothers and with people of other faiths,” said Lohre.<br>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Kunz said the ELCA churchwide organization is committed to facilitating the exchange of ideas, information and conversation about the 500th anniversary. Information about events and activities is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca500.org/">www.ELCA500.org</a>&#160;and also on Facebook at <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/elca500">www.facebook.com/elca500</a>. Resources for the 500th anniversary observance are being produced by Augsburg Fortress.<br>- - -<br><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America&#58;</strong><br>The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br>Candice Hill Buchbinder<br><span class="baec5a81-e4d6-4674-97f3-e9220f0136c1" style="white-space&#58;nowrap;">773-380-2877<a title="Call&#58; 773-380-2877" href="#" style="margin&#58;0px;border&#58;currentcolor;left&#58;0px;top&#58;0px;width&#58;16px;height&#58;16px;right&#58;0px;bottom&#58;0px;overflow&#58;hidden;vertical-align&#58;middle;float&#58;none;display&#58;inline;white-space&#58;nowrap;position&#58;static !important;"></a></span> or <a href="mailto&#58;Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</a><br><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/news">http&#58;//www.ELCA.org/news</a> <br>Facebook&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans">http&#58;//www.facebook.com/Lutherans</a> <br>Living Lutheran&#58; <a href="http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com/">http&#58;//www.livinglutheran.com</a></p><p>​</p></div>03/10/2015