ELCA NEWS SERVICE
September 10, 2009
Lutherans' Creativity Builds Up 'Stand With Africa,' Campaign to Close
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Kent Terry lives a life of high adventure. Having climbed 36 mountains, the 62-year-old ponders faith in his voyages and enjoys writing about it. In his collection of stories, "Adventures in Faith, Faith in Adventures," Terry describes his experiences with skydiving, cross-country skiing, ice climbing and more, attributing his courage to God.
"Writers love to have an audience," he said. So for the past eight years Terry has traveled to congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to share his stories. This summer he became a diaconal minister in the church. But Terry has another reason for visiting and working professionally in the church. It is to talk about Africa.
"I've never been to Africa, but I would love to go," he admitted. Not being there hasn't stopped Terry from learning about the continent.
"My wife and I were at a conference in Baltimore nine years ago, where we heard about a new initiative called 'Stand With Africa.' We learned that HIV and AIDS were destroying lives in Africa. So I thought to myself, 'What could I do? What could I offer? Maybe people would be interested in my stories,'" he said.
Since then Terry has raised more than $7,000 to support the Stand With Africa campaign by seeking contributions and selling copies of his faith and adventure stories.
Over the past eight years Lutherans like Terry have invested more than $40 million to support ministries in Africa through the ELCA World Hunger appeal and program. Of that amount, more than $5.5 million were gifts raised through the Stand With Africa campaign.
The additional $34.5 million for hunger-fighting ministries in Africa has come from the generous, regular commitment of ELCA members, said the Rev. Daniel Rift, director, ELCA World Hunger Appeal.
Stand With Africa is designed to focus on issues significant to Africa, including HIV and AIDS, food security, and peace and reconciliation. It serves as a unique opportunity to walk with African companions, to lift up awareness and generate resources both financial and human, he said.
Initially Stand With Africa was designed to be a short-term giving opportunity in 2000, but it transitioned into a three-year campaign, renewed in 2004. The campaign will come to a close in 2009-2010. "It's a wonderful story of inspired stewardship and faithful action," Rift said.
"I think Stand With Africa came at a time when the story of Africa was transitioning from looking at Africa as a place where problems existed to a place where ideas for hope were taking root," Rift said. Churches there have been growing at a terrific rate and opportunities surfaced for Lutherans in Africa, the United States and elsewhere to walk together, he said.
Two projects supported by campaign funds "speak to me personally," Rift said. The first is the peace and conflict resolution work in Kenya, particularly in refugee camps.
"Kenya has not only been a place where people have found a way station in the midst of troubles that have come upon their own community. It is a place where people, who in their own communities might not have been able to get along or where political pressures have created division, can make a commitment for peace. People became neighbors again," Rift said.
The second project is work with children who have been affected by HIV and AIDS. "How do children live day to day in a place where they may no longer have traditional family support? We have to talk about HIV and AIDS in a way not to stigmatize but as a reality of what's happened to children. The church is equipped for that kind social transformation," Rift said.
"Stand With Africa captured the church's attention and imagination as to what it could do," Rift said. "But as with any campaign, it has a beginning and a time when mission and ministry is pushing us into a different direction," he said.
The ELCA will continue its accompaniment with Africa and African Lutheran churches in a variety of ways. In August the denomination's assembly voted to begin a $10 million campaign to implement a churchwide HIV and AIDS strategy, and take part in a major initiative to fight malaria. Both the strategy and initiative will focus on malaria, HIV and AIDS in Africa and other parts of the world.
- - -
Information about ELCA World Hunger is at http://www.ELCA.org/hunger on the ELCA Web site.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog