A visual tour of ELCA congregations, people and events.
Women of the ELCA gather
The Ninth Triennial Convention of Women of the ELCA took place July 22-24, 2014, at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C. More than 360 delegates at the convention considered memorials from synodical women’s organizations and recommendations from the organization’s executive board to further the group’s mission and ministry. The convention preceded the organization’s Ninth Triennial Gathering, July 24-27, during which more than 2,400 women from across this church gathered under the theme “of many generations.”
Jennifer Michael, outgoing Women of the ELCA executive board president, calls the Ninth Triennial Convention to order.
The new president of Women of the ELCA, here with her husband, Hilton, and granddaughter Savannah, is Patti Austin of Decatur, Ga.
Jennifer Michael, Women of the ELCA outgoing executive board president, greets delegates Melissa Holden, left, and Mary Ann Patterson, right.
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton shares the Presiding Bishop Cross with a young woman who hopes to become the next female presiding bishop.
Delegates used electronic voting devices to cast votes.
Women stand and pray at the opening worship of the Ninth Triennial Gathering. More than 2,400 women gathered from across the country.
The new Women of the ELCA executive board will serve from 2014 to 2017.
Fighting malaria in Burundi
Although malaria is preventable and treatable, every year more than 200 million people worldwide become infected with the disease and more than 600,000 people die, many of these children under 5. Through the ELCA Malaria Campaign, ELCA congregations have joined with companion Lutheran churches and partners in 13 African countries to prevent and treat malaria, educate communities about the disease and more. Here’s an illustration of how this church is partnering with Lutherans in Burundi.
A woman holds her child outside the Mwiruzi health center in Burundi.
Two women walk from their homes to the central market in the Cankuzo province of Burundi.
Two children watch the malaria message and performance competition in the Cankuzo province of Burundi. They learn about ways to prevent malaria, the signs and symptoms of the disease and how to treat it.
A woman sings and dances during a performance and malaria message competition. In Burundi, this is a fun way to educate communities. During the competition, teams from three neighboring villages came together to share the songs, performances and dramas that they use to educate people about malaria prevention and control.
The ELCA Malaria Campaign is working with The Lutheran World Federation in Burundi, training leaders like Pastor John in the province of Cankuzo, who in turn helps the members of his congregation. “I now have training in ways of fighting malaria, which is a very serious illness since 60 percent of people here suffer from malaria,” said Pastor John.
People gather in the lobby of the Mwiruzi health center in Burundi.
Bahiga Euphrasie says, "Once we received training and instruction related to malaria, we could recognize malaria symptoms on a child or adult. When [my child] got sick, I took her to the health center. They examined her and found it [malaria]. Thanks to the training we received, we know the kind of symptoms we should look for.”
Men on a mission
The 2014 Lutheran Men’s Gathering, “Guys, Guts and God’s Glory,” takes place July 18-20 in Nashville, Tenn. Lutheran Men in Mission – the ELCA’s men’s ministry – is committed to making “men bold, daring followers of Jesus Christ.” Inside the framework of what appears to be a traditional national men’s gathering, men of all ages will encounter a passion for discipleship, a hunger for the word, and opportunities to be taught and equipped by men who have a desire to see the men of our congregations transformed through drawing closer to God.
“One Year to Live” retreats encourage men to take a serious look at their faith, lives and relationships.
Mentoring and helping young men through their life journeys and faith formation bridges generations in congregations.
Service and volunteering is at the heart of many men’s ministries and is an effective way to engage the skills and interests of men of all ages.
Some Lutheran men’s events – like "High, Wide and Deep" near Lake Tahoe, Calif. – mix games, challenge activities, fun and competition with worship, Bible study, small-group discussions and inspiring speakers.
Lutheran Men in Mission has used its “Master Builders Bible for Men” to engage more men in studying the Bible together and developing confidence to lead Bible study groups.
Joy and peace
The children of Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope and Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour have found joy and safety in their studies as they graduate from kindergarten. The schools are a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. The church has been instrumental in helping kindergarteners graduate and find peace through their school ministry. The photos were taken by ELCA missionary Danae Hudson, communications coordinator for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.
Parents watch and take photos of their children as they participate in the kindergarten graduation of the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah. The Evangelical Lutheran Schools in the Holy Land are co-educational, with boys and girls and Christians and Muslims studying together.
A graduate straightens his cap before receiving his diploma at the kindergarten graduation at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah.
Imad Haddad, pastor at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah, sits with his youngest daughter, Yara, and visitors at the kindergarten graduation of the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah. The five major Christian churches in Ramallah have a joined fellowship in which they partner in worship, education, community projects and social activities.
Kindergarten graduates from the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah perform “Little Red Riding Hood” in English during their graduation ceremony. The Evangelical Lutheran Schools in the Holy Land teach children in multiple languages, including Arabic, English and German.
Kindergarten graduates fool around for the camera before their graduation ceremony from the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour.
Students of the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour participate in their graduation ceremony in June 2014.
Students stand at attention during the Palestinian national anthem during the kindergarten graduation of the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah.
A kindergarten graduate receives his diploma from the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope’s principal, Michael Abu Ghazaleh, in Ramallah.
Life after Typhoon Haiyan
Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on Nov. 8, 2013. More than 14 million people were affected and about 4 million people lost their homes. About 6,200 people died and more than 1,000 remain missing. An estimated 5.6 million people lost their livelihoods.
In June 2014, on behalf of Lutheran Disaster Response, Stephen S. Talmage, bishop of the ELCA Grand Canyon Synod; his wife, Barb; Carl Stecker, director of Diakonia for the ELCA; and others visited the Philippines “to view,” the bishop said, “how our initial and recent million-dollar gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response are doing God's work with our hands.”
Bishop Stephen Talmage and his group traveled to the Sitio Fermina neighborhood of Barangay Maya. In this neighborhood, Lutheran World Relief was intentional in collaborating with Habitat for Humanity in how best to organize resource and implement the rebuilding of a whole neighborhood.
A little bit down the road Bishop Stephen Talmage’s group stopped to view the home of Delia. She and her grandchildren, during and after the storm, used their dining table for cover and as a temporary roof over their heads until her new home could be built.
The group’s final stop was in Daanbantayan and a visit with Mayor Corro. The mayor – visiting here with Bishop Stephan Talmage, left, and Carl Stecker from ELCA Global Mission – said he is deeply appreciative of non-governmental organizations, such as Lutheran World Relief, a partner with Lutheran Disaster Response, which have responded faster than the national government.
All with whom the group visited affirmed their gratitude to God and the generous aid from around the world that is helping restore their communities. The group also met a symbol of hope and restoration – a baby born during the storm whose name is Yolanda, the local name for Typhoon Haiyan.
“Our baptism is a significant part of our faith journey as we come from the baptismal waters to live a new life as children of God. … Our baptism sets us out on a lifelong journey that is characterized by our relationship to God, our relationship to our faith community, our relationships with various parts of our neighborhood and community, and our relationship to the wider world.” (“The Baptismal Covenant and the ELCA Faith Practices,” ELCA)
Infant baptism involves the parents, sponsors and congregation answering questions and making promises on behalf of the child. They promise to help the child know and believe these promises as they grow. Infants are often brought to be baptized within the first months of their life.
Nicole Zhang, from St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, Ill., holds a candle after she is baptized. “Jesus said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have the light of life.” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 231)
Nicole Zhang, from St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, Park Ridge, Ill., is baptized by the pastor in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Baptism is a sign and testimony of God’s grace, awakening and creating faith. Pouring suggests cleansing from sin. We believe that it is not the water that does such great things, but the word of God connected with the water.
Shelley Wickstrom, bishop of the ELCA’s Alaska Synod, sprinkles the congregation with water during the Thanksgiving for Baptism service at the Churchwide Assembly in Orlando, Fla. “Pour out your Holy Spirit, the power of your living Word, that those who are washed in the waters of baptism may be given new life.” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship p. 230)
At the beginning of the baptism service, during the gathering song, the pastor may sprinkle the crowd with this brush and water from the font. "The location of the font within the church building should express the idea of entrance into the community of faith, and should allow ample space for people to gather around." (Lutheran Book of Worship: Ministers Desk Edition, p. 30)
Baptism at any age involves being washed and clothed with God's love in Christ. Baptism may be by either sprinkling or immersion, which is to be fully submerged in a tub of water such as this young boy is. Immersion symbolizes our dying and rising with Christ.