A visual tour of ELCA congregations, people and events.
Ash Wednesday 2014
On Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, we are marked with ashes — a sign of our death and of our sorrow for sin. The ashes trace a cross on our forehead, where the baptismal water first marked us with the cross of Jesus, God's grace.
In Glen Ellyn, Ill., Heidi Johns, associate pastor of Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, administers ashes during Ashes to Go for busy commuters at a train station.
Instead of ashes, St. John Lutheran, Owatonna, Minn., holds a “Water Wednesday” service that concentrates on the verse "remember that you are a child of God, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and marked with the cross of Christ forever."
Ash Wednesday sunshine at First Lutheran Church in Bothell, Wash.
Since 1952, Penny Timmerman, a member of Mt. Tabor Lutheran Church, West Columbia, S.C., has attended Ash Wednesday services.
Ashes are the primary image for the day. Since the 11th century, the ashes have been made by burning the fronds from the previous year's Palm Sunday.
The imposition of ashes at a traditional setting for members of St. Mark’s Lutheran in Aurora, Colo.
Hope, healing and renewal
When disaster strikes Lutheran Disaster Response is there to help! Around the corner or around the world, Lutheran Disaster Response recognizes that every disaster is local, and we work to accompany communities from immediate relief to long-term recovery. Lutherans are the first to respond and the last to leave.
Here are some of the ways that Lutheran Disaster Response is helping.
Lutheran Disaster Response volunteers were there to help when the Red River crested in Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn., at 38.75 feet. In rural areas north and south of Fargo/Moorhead, flooding of fields, roads and homes reached unprecedented levels.
On May 22, 2011, an EF5 tornado destroyed Joplin, Mo., and leveled Peace Lutheran Church. Thanks in part to Lutheran Disaster Response, the congregation celebrated the dedication of their newly completed building on June 23, 2013.
Record-breaking September rains caused flood waters to rise in Colorado destroying over 18,000 homes and businesses. Through ELCA congregations, pastors and social ministries, Lutheran Disaster Response is working to serve those most affected.
Lutheran Disaster Response is still responding in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. Through partners in the Caribbean, Lutheran Disaster Response is providing basic needs — food, water and shelter. In the U.S. the work continues through ELCA synods and ministry organizations.
The day after Typhoon Bopha raged through the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, Maravic Tinhay cleans up the rubble of her home. With its partners, Lutheran Disaster Response helped rebuild livelihoods, provided shelter and created financial assistance.
Volunteers work in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast in August 2005. Since 2005, millions of dollars and countless hours of hard work have been donated.
Supporting our future leaders
The future of the ELCA depends on its future leaders, who will help ground us in God’s love and forgiveness and send us out to do God’s work in the world. Ministries and programs like ELCA Fund for Leaders enable our church to attract men and women of tremendous promise to become pastors and rostered lay leaders and to study at an ELCA seminary.
The fund serves as the ongoing promise of this church that candidates for ministry will have the opportunity to pursue a path toward informed faith and passionate discipleship. Today, more than 200 seminary students receive scholarship assistance every year, thanks to the generosity of ELCA members.
Through Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA — a five-year campaign approved by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly — you can help support and expand programs like ELCA Fund for Leaders beyond your regular weekly offerings.
Here are some of the current and past scholarship recipients, who are answering the call to leadership for this church!
Kari Reiten, pastor of Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Renton, Wash., with young members of her congregation. Kari received a scholarship in 2003.
ELCA Fund for Leaders 2013-2014 Scholarship recipients
Jacqueline Pagel, pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, Phoenix, Ariz., welcomes worshipers to the 2013 Palm Sunday procession. Jacqueline was a recipient of the 2004 ELCA Fund for Leaders Scholarship.
Mission Developer Scholarship recipient Raymond Kolison with Tracie Batholomew, bishop of the ELCA New Jersey Synod. Raymond is from Ewing, N.J.. and is a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church, Trenton, N.J.
Kevin Baker, a 2008 scholarship recipient, delivers the invocation at the 2013-14 ELCA Fund for Leaders Annual Scholarship Awards Banquet. Kevin is the pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Elmwood Park, Ill.
Trinity Lutheran College, Everett, Wash., campus pastor, Erik Samuelson, (back row, right) was a 2001 scholarship recipient.
Souper Bowl of Caring 2014
On Super Bowl Sunday – Feb. 2 – ELCA congregations participated in the Souper Bowl of Caring. The Souper Bowl of Caring is a national movement of young people working to fight hunger and poverty in their communities. Of the 3,921 groups participating this year, churches make up more than 77 percent.
Children from Luther Memorial Church, Syracuse, N.Y., amassed a tower of soup to feed the hungry in their community.
Members of Christ the King Lutheran Church, Bozeman, Mont., collect cans of soup and other non-perishable food.
Youth from Christ Lutheran Church, DeForest, Wis., collect cans of soup for the local food pantry. They also accept cash donations, which are given to the DeForest Area Needs Network.
Young people at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Thousand Oaks, Calif., collected $536 and 50 food items for ELCA World Hunger.
The Souper Bowl of Caring is a huge event at Lutheran Church of Hope, West Des Moines, Iowa. The dream of this congregation is to restock the shelves of every food bank in central Iowa. Last year the members collected more than 150,000 pounds of food.
Teens of the Spirit Together at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit, Lincolnshire, Ill., collected $1,226 for PADS.
A special dedication
In an effort to provide a place for Christians in the Middle East and from around the world to gather for pilgrimage and baptism, members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land have officially opened the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan. Dedicated on Jan. 6, 2014, Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan is located where Christians believe John the Baptist baptized Jesus. The ELCA and the Lutheran church in Jordan and the Holy Land are members of The Lutheran World Federation — a global communion of 142 churches representing more than 70 million Christians in 79 countries. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.
The Rev. Rolf Pearson and his wife, Deacon Kerstin Pearson, seconded by the Church of Sweden, were installed during the dedication service as the caregivers of the site. Over the coming months, they hope to develop a pilgrimage site for those who wish to visit.
The Rt. Rev. Alex G. Malasusa, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania and vice president of The Lutheran World Federation, also took part in the dedication.
The Rev. Rafael Malpica (left), executive director for ELCA global mission, told those gathered, “In our baptism we participate in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, and in this place we are reaffirming our baptismal vocation of following in the steps of Jesus, participating through him in God's mission to restore community with God and with one another.”
Other clergy who attended the dedication were Archbishop Anders Wejryd of the Church of Sweden, and Bishop Atle Sommerfeldt of the Church of Norway. The Church of Norway and the Church of Sweden are members of The Lutheran World Federation.
“During a time when many Christian communities in the Middle East are experiencing strained relationships with their neighbors of other faiths, it is refreshing to see such a strong commitment from King Abdullah for the thriving of Christian churches in Jordan,” said the Rev. Robert Smith, ELCA program director for the Middle East and Africa.
Prince Raed bin Zeid (center), the Rev. Munib Younan (right) bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and the Rev. Samer Azar of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Amman walk together toward Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan for the Jan. 6, 2014, dedication.
According to the Rev. Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan is a concrete way to help Christians in the Middle East connect with pilgrims all over the world “with us here in Jerusalem, and in Bethlehem.”
The Mission Investment Fund, the lending ministry of the ELCA, provided a loan for Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan. “The Mission Investment Fund is humbled to be able to participate in a building project at such a historic site,” said Eva M. Roby, president and CEO of the Mission Investment Fund.
In addition to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan, the site includes a pastor’s house and a multipurpose hall.
The baptismal site has a remarkable degree of archaeological veracity. It is described in several pilgrim accounts from the fifth century onward.
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Christian church bodies worldwide are participating in the World Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Jan. 18-25. Donald McCoid, executive assistant to the presiding bishop, ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations, said the week “is a time for common prayers for unity. The ELCA supports this week, as well as continued prayers for the unity of Christians throughout the world."
Church leaders from the Chicago area gather in song during an ecumenical prayer service in 2008 to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at Christ Community Church in South Holland, Ill.
Clergy assemble at First Lutheran Church in Winnipeg, Canada, during the January 2012 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Christian leaders gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in Honolulu for the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity evening service, Jan. 24, 2013. Jeff M. Lilley, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, provided the homily.
Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran and Russian Orthodox clergy participated in a shared ecumenical celebration at the Stella Maris Seafarers' Centre in Barcelona.
Church leaders from around the world gather for worship at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem during the week of services for the 2012 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The St. John Hispanic Choir performs during a celebration for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at Grace Lutheran Church in Westminster, Md., on Jan. 29, 2012.