ELCA NEWS SERVICE
August 22, 2009
ELCA Assembly Hears Greetings from Lutheran Organizational Representatives
MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) -- Attendees of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church America (ELCA) heard messages about the service and mission of organizations that work in collaboration with the ELCA and other Lutheran denominations.
The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,045 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is "God's work. Our hands."
The issue of immigration is controversial for most in the United States but not for Lutherans, said Ralston "Rallie" Deffenbaugh, president of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS). "The immigration system is still very badly broken," Deffenbaugh said.
LIRS, formed in 1939, that relates to the ELCA, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Deffenbaugh has served as president of LIRS for 18 years. He previously announced he will resign at the end of this month. During his tenure, LIRS resettled more than 100,000 refugees through 25 affiliated agencies.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, said that LIRS has benefited from Deffenbaugh's "unwavering commitment to treat all people with compassion, dignity and respect."
Beth Wrenn, president, Women of the ELCA and Norman Smith, president, Lutheran Men in Mission, both spoke of the importance of including and mentoring youth in the church.
"We are looking for ways to encourage youth to become part of our organization," Wrenn said.
Jill Schumman, president and CEO, Lutheran Services of America, spoke of the importance of members of all congregations to use their gifts to serve God.
"What people know about a faith group is what they see lived out in the world," she said.
Attendees also heard a message from the Rev. Ishmael Noko, general secretary, Lutheran World Federation, who is preparing to leave office next year.
Noko told the assembly the voting members needed to leave Minneapolis and talk with other members of the ELCA about what they had learned.
"Whatever your opinions have been, I know that each one of us here has been changed by what we did," he said. "You need to speak to them about the assembly in ways that will build up the body Christ."
Hanson presented gifts to Deffenbaugh and Noko on behalf of the ELCA.
More information on the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at http://www.elca.org/assembly on the ELCA Web site.
* Carrie L. Draeger is a senior communication major with a concentration in journalism at Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Wash. This summer she is an intern with the ELCA News Service.
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