ELCA NEWS SERVICE
November 9, 2012
ELCA begins homeless ministry network
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Leaders from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and representatives from 14 homeless ministries across the country have officially launched the ELCA homeless ministry network -- a coalition of ministries designed not only as an outreach but led by people with personal experiences of homelessness and poverty.
“Evangelism and justice are coming together in fresh and surprising ways as we begin new ministry starts among people who are homeless and living in poverty,” said the Rev. Stephen Bouman, executive director for congregational and synodical mission, ELCA churchwide ministries. “This is not ministry ‘for’ but ministry ‘with’ and ‘by’ leaders who are homeless and in poverty.”
The group met earlier this fall in Philadelphia to form the network. Teresa Jackson attended as a representative from Peace Lutheran Church in Tacoma, Wash. Jackson was homeless before becoming involved in Peace’s poverty and homelessness ministries. Now she serves on the outreach board of the ELCA Southwestern Washington Synod.
Jackson said she was invigorated by the opportunity to connect with others from across the country. “It’s fun working with other people,” she said. “The part I liked, of course, besides getting the information was networking with all these people from across the country. I came home with all kinds of great ideas,” a number of which she has started implementing in her congregation.
The network aims to connect those who are working to address the root causes of homelessness and alleviating it. Participants of the network share their stories and ideas and work together to strengthen the ELCA’s capacity to confront and help end hunger, poverty and injustice.
“People experiencing homelessness are just as equal as any other baptized believer,” said the Rev. Ruben Duran, director for new congregations at ELCA churchwide ministries. “Each [participant] has a story but when you put these together, all of a sudden there is a voice that is much needed in the ELCA. [The network] is going to energize us as a church because of what the spirit is doing through these people.”
The group plans to meet again in February to discuss next steps. Until then, leaders will continue to discern how best to use their resources and skills to meet the needs of homeless communities across the country.
“New communities of Jesus are emerging in various ways,” said Bouman. “In Philadelphia, pastors and leaders (including homeless leaders) from 14 of these new starts came together for mutual consultation, prayer and inspiration. This cohort will expand as the ELCA renews its resolve to plant the church where Jesus has promised to be found, in places of hurt and hope where people struggle with poverty and new beginnings.”
- - -
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” 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.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com