ELCA News Bloghttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/David Vásquez-Levy to become first Lutheran, Latino president of a U.S. seminaryELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/72http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/72<div class="ExternalClass583199E8FD68426DA8DA0F62EA89B7DA"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">The Rev. David Vásquez-Levy, a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), will become the 12th president of Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif. Vásquez-Levy was a campus pastors at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, one of 26 ELCA colleges and universities.</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> </span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Vásquez-Levy is the first Lutheran and Latino to serve as president of Pacific School of Religion, and one of four people of Latino/a descent serving as president for a U.S.-accredited seminary.</span></p><p>&quot;I am excited to join a community that has been at the forefront of bringing the good news of the gospel to bear on issues as diverse as gender equality, civil rights, peace and justice (and more), and that is poised to be a catalyst to continued conversations that broaden the spectrum of people of faith and conviction that want to join together in shaping the future,&quot; said Vásquez-Levy.</p><p>Vásquez-Levy earned a Master of Divinity degree at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago in 1995, and a Doctor of Ministry degree there in 2001. The seminary is one of eight of the ELCA. </p><p>Vásquez-Levy has authored several publications and a dedicated advocate for humane immigration policies. After the 2008 immigration raid in Postville, Iowa, Vásquez-Levy co-led the Postville Relief Effort team. He served as a consultant on two documentaries discussing the raid, worked closely with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services based in Baltimore, and he participated in White House conversations and congressional briefings about the raid in Postville and immigration.</p><p>&quot;President David Vasquez will bring strength to the strategic direction of Pacific School of Religion to inspire, train and sustain spiritually-rooted leaders for social change,&quot; says David Tiede, president emeritus of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and former interim president of Luther College.</p><p>Vásquez-Levy's inauguration and celebration will be held Jan. 29, 2015, at 2&#58;00 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley. Pacific School of Religion has formal relationships with the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church are full communion partners of the ELCA.</p><p><em>Amanda Straw is a student at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., majoring in English writing. She served as an intern for the ELCA churchwide organization.</em></p></div>01/27/2015ELCA observes 2015 Week of Prayer for Christian UnityELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/71http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/71<div class="ExternalClassA96A0865A38F44AF8041DFA86BF8456F"><p>​Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will join millions of Christians around the world Jan. 18-25 to observe the 2015 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. </p><p>“Each year, Christians throughout the world observe The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity,” said the Rev. Donald McCoid, ELCA director for ecumenical and inter-religious relations. “In keeping with Jesus’ prayer for His disciples in John 17&#58;21 ‘that they may be one so that the world may believe,’ Christians pray for this unity among followers of Jesus today.” </p><p>The theme of the 2015 observance is “Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink,’” taken from the story of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4&#58;1-42.</p><p>McCoid shared thoughts about the 2015 theme taken from an article written by the Rev. Gerald O’Collins S.J. in the October 2014 issue of Ecumenical Trends. O’Collins is a retired theology professor of the Gregorian University in Rome. </p><p>“Those who give themselves in a special way to the cause of Christian unity should find a shining model in the Samaritan woman,” said O’Collins in the article. “In speaking to her and asking her for a drink, Jesus crosses the boundaries of Orthodox Judaism. But as a person very much on the margins of her society, she too crosses the boundaries of her culture and time. As a most unlikely religious leader, she witnesses courageously to Jesus and brings people of Sychar (in Samaria) to faith in him. More than ever, the cause of unity among Christians needs her kind of courageous witness.”</p><p>Traditionally the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is observed during the week between the feasts of St. Peter and St. Paul. In the Southern Hemisphere, the observance is held later in the church year, often during Pentecost.</p><p>More information about the 2015 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is available at&#160;&#160; <a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Faith/Ecumenical-and-Inter-Religious-Relations">www.elca.org/Faith/Ecumenical-and-Inter-Religious-Relations</a>.<br></p></div>01/16/2015Russell Siler, former ELCA director, diesELCA News http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/70http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/70<div class="ExternalClass68EA1F084D80448F803D3998B9AAA94F"><p>​The Rev. Russell O. Siler, former director of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) advocacy ministries, died Dec. 26, 2014, at his home in Weems, Va. Siler was 72.<br>Siler served as interim pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem from 2003 to 2007 and again in 2010. The congregation is one of six of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Both the denomination and the ELCA are members of The Lutheran World Federation based in Geneva. <br>“Russ Siler was a passionate lover of justice. He used the church's voice to challenge policies and structures that prevented people from full participation in society and from realizing their human potential,” said the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director for ELCA Global Mission. “While his initial work in these areas focused on domestic policy, this passion led him to Jerusalem to serve as advisor to Bishop [Munib] Younan and as pastor of the English-speaking congregation at Redeemer Church.” Younan is bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.<br>Siler was director of the Lutheran office for governmental affairs in Washington, D.C., from 1997 to 2003 and director of Lutheran advocacy ministry in Pennsylvania from 1993 to 1997. Siler was the court-appointed attorney for juvenile domestic relations in district court for Virginia Beach, Va., from 1987 to 1992. <br>“Russ was a gift to the ELCA in all his ministries, but I knew him best for his work in the Washington office where he navigated through the halls of Congress on behalf of us all. He had a wonderful and collegial spirit,” said Josselyn Bennett, director of ELCA poverty and justice ministries.<br>Siler received his received his Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Va., in 1964, and his Master of Divinity from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in Gettysburg, Pa., in 1968. He received his law degree from Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C., in 1986. Siler served as pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Virginia Beach, Va., from 1988 to 1992, pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Virginia Beach, from 1971 to 1982, and pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Warrenton, Va., from 1968 to 1971. </p></div>01/12/2015Palestinian Authority payment eases Augusta Victoria Hospital’s financesELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/69http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/69<div class="ExternalClassCB5B557E83474C3F96B2DA2397EC69E7"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Augusta Victoria Hospital, located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, has received &quot;a substantial amount of receivables&quot; from the Palestinian Authority, averting a financial crisis. According to The Lutheran World Federation, the payment was made in November after ongoing advocacy efforts. The funds will help cover unpaid bills for patients referred to the hospital by the Palestinian Authority.</span></p><p>The hospital is a program of The Lutheran World Federation, a global communion of 142 churches representing more than 70 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>Earlier in 2014, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop, requested that the U.S. government allocate a portion of its bilateral support to the Palestinian Authority to pay its debt to Augusta Victoria Hospital. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Eaton wrote that the &quot;debt arose from unpaid treatments in 2013 for patients referred by the Palestinian National Authority to Augusta Victoria Hospital.&quot;</p><p>Eaton also noted that the ELCA continues to provide annual financial support to the hospital, which cared for nearly 28,000 inpatients and outpatients in 2012. The hospital's specialized care centers offered more than 13,200 dialysis sessions, nearly 10,000 chemotherapy sessions and more than 14,000 interventions in the radiation oncology unit on an outpatient basis.</p><p>The hospital &quot;is able to continue delivering its relevant specialized health services,&quot; said the Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary of The Lutheran World Federation. &quot;With the support of USAID and the European Union Nov. 17, 2014, the Palestinian Authority was able to pay outstanding patient bills&quot; he said, adding that &quot;while this payment covers a substantial amount of the due patient fees, all receivables are not fully paid.&quot;​</p></div>12/18/2014Fred Renwick, former ELCA board member, diesELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/68http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/68<div class="ExternalClass4EEB799D7E074630AFE0DA92D8E7AF9B"><p>​Fred B. Renwick, a former member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Board of Pensions and the ELCA Foundation board, died Dec. 4 at his home in New York City. Renwick, 84, suffered a stroke in January and had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. <br>Renwick had been a member of Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church in New York City since 1965 and served as congregation president from 1980-1984. He was a founding member of Saint Peter’s Trust and was its chair for more than 20 years.<br>In the late 1970s, Renwick served on the board of the Lutheran Church in America Foundation. The Lutheran Church in America merged with the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches and The American Lutheran Church to form the ELCA in 1988. Renwick also was a founding member of the Wartburg Foundation, where he served 10 years as chair of the Foundation Board. <br>A member of the faculty at New York University since 1965, Renwick was a retired professor of finance at the university’s Graduate School of Business Administration. He also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Morehouse College and in 2012 was made a lifetime honorary Trustee of the college. The honor was bestowed by President Barack Obama.</p></div>12/15/2014Wilma Kucharek re-elected bishop of ELCA Slovak Zion Synod ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/67http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/NewsBlog/67<div class="ExternalClass870A0A90940348A7B338BD28A2F1518E"><p>​The Rev. Wilma S. Kucharek was re-elected to serve a third six-year term as bishop of the Slovak Zion Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). She was re-elected during the Synod Assembly Nov. 16-23.</p><p>Prior to becoming bishop in 2002, Kucharek served as pastor of Holy Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Mahanoy City, Pa., from 1982 to 1986; St. John Lutheran Church, St. Clair, Pa., from 1982 to 1986; and St. John Lutheran Church, Nanticoke, Pa., from 1983 to 1986.</p><p>Kucharek earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind., and a Master of Divinity degree and Master of Sacred Theology degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in Gettysburg, Pa. – one of eight ELCA seminaries.</p><p>Information about the ELCA Slovak Zion Synod is available at <a href="http&#58;//slovakzionsynod.org/">http&#58;//slovakzionsynod.org/</a>.</p></div>11/26/2014