ELCA News Bloghttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/Dr. Tawfiq Nasser, CEO of Augusta Victoria Hospital, diesELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/86http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/86<div class="ExternalClassF3C799A3601C483A8477F2022B09574F"><p>​Dr. Tawfiq A. Nasser, CEO of Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem, died May 16. The hospital, located on the Mount of Olives, is a program of The Lutheran World Federation, a global communion of 144 churches representing more than 72 million Christians in 79 countries. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is the communion's only member church from the United States.</p><p>“My heart aches at the passing of Dr. Nasser,” said the Rev. M. Wyvetta Bullock, ELCA executive for administration and a member of the Augusta Victoria Hospital board since 2012.</p><p>“Dr. Nasser was an innovative and passionate leader. As CEO of Augusta Victoria Hospital, his vision and determination served to move the hospital to a place of prominence as a specialized center of medical excellence for cancer, hematology, and bone marrow, kidney and diabetes.&#160; He will be deeply missed. My prayers are with his family that they might find comfort in the hope of the resurrection,” Bullock said.</p><p>According to a press release from The Lutheran World Federation, Nasser was appointed the hospital’s CEO in 2001 at the age of 36. He served as its administrative director from 1997 to 2001. Nasser shaped the hospital into the leading center for nephrology and oncology in the Palestinian territories.</p><p>“Tawfiq worked at (Augusta Victoria Hospital) on the Mount of Olives for 18 years,” said the Rt. Rev. Dr. Munib A Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Younan is president of The Lutheran World Federation and also serves as chair of the hospital board. </p><p>“He cherished and loved Augusta Victoria Hospital. Tawfiq did not want it to be just a hospital. He wanted it to be a community of healing on the Mount of Olives,” Younan said.</p></div>05/21/2015Ulysses Burley invited to serve on Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDSELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/85http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/85<div class="ExternalClass9E841681A3BF41A289F3E1998ACE649B"><p>​Dr. Ulysses Burley, program associate for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) strategy on HIV and AIDS, has been invited to serve as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS. Council members are appointed by the secretary of health in consultation with the White House Office on National AIDS Policy. Burley was nominated by ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. The two-year term begins May 21.</p><p>“It is an honor to be appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS as the second youngest member in the history of the council,” said Burley.</p><p>The council is comprised of prominent community leaders with expertise in a broad range of areas, including HIV and AIDS, global health, philanthropy and business. The council provides advice and recommendations to the U.S. secretary of health about policies and programs that promote effective prevention methods and that continue to advance HIV and AIDS research.</p><p>“A component of the ELCA strategy on HIV and AIDS is to treat HIV by treating humans and treating hearts through the development of relationships, the sharing of stories, and the restoration of dignity,” Burley said. “By focusing on the people infected and affected by HIV versus HIV itself, we begin to see the healing of stigmatization and changed behaviors through changed hearts. This type of healing cannot be wholly achieved in laboratories or hospitals, but in community with one another.”</p><p>Burley is a graduate of Morehouse College and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Although his primary training is in scientific research and clinical medicine, Burley has dedicated much of his time to social justice advocacy through the church and community. His primary work with faith groups has been in the area of HIV and AIDS awareness, but it also includes mass incarceration, gender and racial justice, food security, and peace in the Middle East.</p><p>“It will be my role as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS to assure that human care and heart care are as much a part of the goals as health and HIV care. I'm excited about the possibilities this opportunity creates for the ELCA, this country and the world,” he said.</p></div>05/18/2015ELCA partners continue assessments after second earthquake strikes Nepal ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/84http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/84<div class="ExternalClassD3933D360D9F4B28A98FFE56AAA739F1"><p>​<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">A second earthquake struck May 12 in Nepal, with its epicenter approximately 40 miles northeast of Kathmandu. Partners of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) there &quot;are conducting assessments to determine how original response plans will expand to address new needs,&quot; according to Vitaly Vorona, program director for ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response (International). &quot;Our response and projects will grow while we remain committed to providing assistance to those who need it most,&quot; he said.</span></p><p>Through Lutheran Disaster Response, ELCA members had allocated an initial $500,000 to support ELCA partners engaged in emergency assistance following the April 25 earthquake that struck 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu. The funds were sent to ACT Alliance – $200,000 allocated to The Lutheran World Federation based in Geneva, and $200,000 to Lutheran World Relief based in Baltimore. Separately, the ELCA had allocated an initial $100,000 to the United Mission to Nepal.<br> <br>Staff members of The Lutheran World Federation World Service in Kathmandu and elsewhere in the country are safe and will resume relief activities. The Lutheran World Federation is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. The ELCA is the only U.S. member church of the communion. Active in Nepal since 1984, the communion began an immediate large-scale emergency response in and around Kathmandu after the first earthquake struck. ELCA funds will support the communion's establishment of shelters and camps and the distribution of clean water, food, sanitation supplies and more in several districts in the Kathmandu Valley. The Lutheran World Federation is the lead agency for ACT Alliance and has been working directly with the Nepalese government.</p><p>Information about Lutheran Disaster Response is available at <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response">http&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response</a>.​</p></div>05/13/2015ELCA leaders commemorate 100th anniversary of the Armenian GenocideELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/83http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/83<div class="ExternalClassB3D8D92EE9D24B9CA782CA733635A747"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Leaders from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) attended a prayer service May 7 at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.</span></p><p>ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton participated in the procession and led prayers. After the service she was greeted by tearful Armenian descendants, who offered words of gratitude for the presence of the churches in the commemoration. &quot;It was very moving,&quot; said Eaton. &quot;I also had this sense of how it must feel when losing a loved one, or having the remains of a solder returned to the family, and finally being able to lay that person to&#160;rest.&quot;</p><p>Kathryn Lohre, assistant to the presiding bishop and executive, ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations, attended the commemoration also behalf of the ELCA and the National Council of Churches, which co-hosted the prayer service. She served as 26<sup>th</sup> president of the council. Both Eaton and Lohre are members of the council's governing board.</p><p>&quot;The presence and participation of the leadership of the National Council of Churches in the ecumenical service held at the Washington National Cathedral in memory of the holy martyrs of the Armenian Genocide gave witness to the life and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and to our longstanding solidarity with our Armenian sisters and brothers,&quot; Lohre said.<br> &#160;<br> &quot;In his message His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, expressed deep appreciation to the National Council of Churches of the United States and to the other sister churches for their assistance, not only for standing at our side during the years of genocide, but also for benefiting the raising of awareness surrounding the Armenian Question in the United States,&quot; she said.</p><p>The service, attended by the president of the Armenian Republic and the vice president of the United States, was the only national ecumenical commemoration in this country, said Lohre, adding that &quot;several speakers raised the question of U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide in their remarks.&quot;</p><p>The Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, a Lutheran pastor in the Church of Norway, delivered the homily.<br> <br>&quot;The prayer service of the 100<sup>th</sup>-year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide was both reflective and commemorative in remembering the deaths of nearly 1.5 million Armenians,&quot; said Dr. Ulysses Burley III, program associate, ELCA Strategy on HIV and AIDS.</p><p>&quot;In his homily, Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit reminded us that we must not only remember the deaths but also celebrate the lives lost and the lives left behind to live on. It is in the same life, death and life again that we experience the witness of Jesus Christ. Armenian prelates challenged the ecumenical fellowship that reconciliation alone is not enough; reconciliation must be accompanied with recognition of the genocide,&quot; said Burley. &quot;I was blessed to join in the prayers of justice and peace, and I look forward to joining the World Council of Churches' executive committee in Armenia next month to continue the remembrance of death and the celebration of life for the holy martyrs of the Armenian Genocide.&quot;</p><p>Lohre said, &quot;I had the opportunity to experience the service with my colleague and friend, Ms. Arpi Kouzouian, member of the (National Council of Churches) governing board and lay leader of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America.&quot;<br> <br>&quot;Arpi shared that she could not have imagined this day happening in her lifetime – when people beyond the Armenian community would stand together in the United States to commemorate the atrocities that took place 100 years ago. It was a special honor to experience the evening through her eyes and to grasp the importance of our ecumenical commitment to stay together and to move together, united in Christ.&quot;</p><p>In a letter to Patriarch Karekin&#160;II about the commemoration the Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary of The Lutheran World Federation – a global communion of churches – reiterated the communion's commitment to advocacy for those suffering injustice and violence. &quot;There is no justification for genocide, for persecution or for the killing of civilians. As they uphold these commitments and convictions together, Lutherans and the Armenian Orthodox Church feel very close together,&quot; he wrote. One of the lessons learned from upholding the memory of this injustice today is the need for &quot;unwavering support to speak for people and communities who get trapped into conflicts of large geopolitical dimensions,&quot; Junge said. This includes urging the international community to apply &quot;effective and binding instruments to prevent these unacceptable situations&quot; from happening again, he said.</p><p>In addition to attending the prayer service, Eaton and Lohre participated in the council's Christian Unity Gathering May 7-9 in Washington, D.C. Eaton introduced keynote speaker Leymah Gbowee, a 2011 Nobel Peace laureate. Gbowee, a Lutheran, is a &quot;peace activist, social worker, women's rights advocate and mother,&quot; said Eaton in her introductory remarks.​</p></div>05/12/2015ELCA Fund for Leaders receives $2,500 giftELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/82http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/82<div class="ExternalClassCE7C48ED869F4DAFA9EA599953CEEAE9"><p>​The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Fund for Leaders received a $2,500 gift from Portico Benefits Services, winners of the Blue Bike Challenge social media competition. Portico, a ministry of the ELCA, provides benefits and services to enhance the well-being of ELCA rostered leaders and lay employees. </p><p>Sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield, the challenge featured two contests – a stationary bike competition and a social media competition. The winners of each challenge were awarded $2,500 for a charity of choice.&#160; </p><p>“The ELCA Fund for Leaders is thrilled by the continued partnership with Portico Benefit Services especially in this creative initiative to raise money and awareness,” said Rachel Wind, director of ELCA Fund for Leaders. </p><p>In the social media competition, teams were challenged to log the most social media activity across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for a week. The bike challenge required a team to record the most miles in a six-hour period. Team Portico won the social media challenge by logging more than 4,500 tweets and posts from April 28 through May 5.</p><p>Last year Portico donated $5,000 to the ELCA Fund for Leaders after winning the combined stationary bike and social media challenge. </p><p>“The Portico Benefit Services Seminary Scholarship within the ELCA Fund for Leaders was awarded for the first time this academic year, and we are so excited to see the continued growth of this scholarship that seeks to support excellent future leaders of the ELCA,” Wind said.<br></p></div>05/11/2015Brenda Smith named program director for ELCA’s Faith Practices / Book of Faith ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/81http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/81<div class="ExternalClass838DA8C2557240F9B66E58FE64841457"><p>​The Rev. Brenda K. Smith has been named program director for Faith Practices and Book of Faith at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). She will succeed Diane Jacobson, who retired in January as program director for Book of Faith. Prior to her appointment, Smith served as program director for Faith Practices.</p><p>“I want to thank Diane Jacobson for her great leadership of the Book of Faith initiative, her willingness to open Scripture with us across the country and urging us to join the holy conversation,” said the Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, executive director, ELCA congregational and synodical mission. “Although Diane has retired, she will continue to support this initiative as she is able.”</p><p>The ELCA’s Book of Faith Initiative was approved as a five-year commitment by the 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly encouraging members, congregations and synods to increase and enrich their engagement with Scripture. The 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted to affirm the Book of Faith Initiative “as a continuing emphasis and priority of this church.”</p><p>The ELCA’s Faith Practices initiative, “Living the Faith – Call to Discipleship,” was introduced in 2000 to provide members ways in which to live out their faith while growing in discipleship.</p><p>“Bringing together the Book of Faith initiative support networks with the Faith Practices focus and networks under the leadership of Brenda Smith will further strengthen and enhance this important and vital ministry,” said Bouman. </p><p>“Immersion in Scripture is elemental in the individual and communal discipleship journey of all the baptized, a premiere ‘faith practice.’ Brenda has provided faithful leadership and support in both these networks. Our aim is to embed the Book of Faith and the other faith practices of the disciple throughout the life of the church. This is an investment into the DNA of our life together in Christ,” he said.</p><p>“One of the Book of Faith resources suggests that as people of God, part of our calling is to know, hear, share and be rooted in Scripture,” said Smith. “The Book of Faith program offers individuals and congregations strategies that will allow them to do some intentional opening up of Scripture and having a conversation about how this sacred text invites us into a relationship with God, makes demands on our lives, and promises us a life in Christ. As we become increasingly grounded in Scripture, we consistently examine our lives and ask the question, ‘How am I living out my faith in my daily life?’”</p><p>Smith said the ELCA has developed a number of faith practices resources, which provide a framework for “how we will reflect our faith in our words and in our deeds.” These resources include “Living Our Baptismal Covenant” and “Daily Faith Practices,” a weekly Bible study based on the second lesson of the lectionary.</p><p>“There are many connections between grounding ourselves in the Bible and living out our faith on a daily basis,” said Smith.&#160; “Both the Faith Practices team and the Book of Faith team look forward to deepening those connections for the three expressions of the ELCA – the churchwide office, the 65 synods and the congregations.”&#160; <br></p></div>04/28/2015