A visual tour of ELCA congregations, people and events.

A ministry of word and sacrament

Nov 11, 2013

"No one's prayers for peace are more ardent than those who have seen the absence of peace." —Howard Stendahl, ELCA chaplain in the U.S. Air Force based at the Pentagon

Chaplain Kristin Swenson at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

Chaplain Carl Trost, Newport Naval Base, Rhode Island.

Chaplain Anthony Stevens, Army National Guard.

Distribution of Holy Communion at Christmas.

A chaplain blessing deployed troops.

Taking a moment for prayer.

Air Force chaplain offering support and prayer.

A new ELCA secretary takes the helm

Nov 04, 2013

Upon learning he had just been elected ELCA secretary, William Chris Boerger said, "I am aware of the tremendous responsibility, and I will do my best to fulfill that responsibility."

Boerger, a nominee for ELCA secretary, responds to questions at the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.

Boerger, who was then the bishop of the ELCA Northwest Washington Synod, poses with young people from the synod at the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans.

Boerger speaks at the Nyer Urness House groundbreaking in Ballard, Wash., on Feb. 21, 2012. The facility provides affordable apartments to 80 people who were without homes.

Boerger and his wife, Dede, react to the announcement of his election as the secretary of the ELCA.

ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson blesses Secretary Boerger after his installation on Aug.17, 2013.

Secretary Boerger processing at the installation of the new ELCA presiding bishop, Elizabeth A. Eaton, Oct. 5, 2013.

Servants of Christ

Oct 30, 2013

Thank you, Mark Hanson, for 12 years of faithful and prophetic leadership as ELCA presiding bishop. May you and Ione continue to "go forth into the world to serve God with gladness." Capturing 12 years of servant leadership is no small task. Here’s an attempt to share some images of Mark Hanson’s devotion and passion as presiding bishop of the 4 million-member ELCA.

Hanson was first elected to serve a six-year term as ELCA presiding bishop at the 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. He was re-elected in 2007. Before serving as presiding bishop, Hanson was bishop of the ELCA Saint Paul Area Synod and pastor of three ELCA congregations in Minnesota, prior to his role as synod bishop.

The Installation of Bishop Hanson

Hanson traveled extensively across the United States, meeting with ELCA members and congregations — sometimes as frequently as three of four weekends per month.

Hanson also traveled overseas, meeting with Lutheran sisters and brothers as well as other religious and political leaders to build relationships and share messages of hope, reconciliation and peace.

The ELCA and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church embarked on a new relationship to engage in mission and ministry together, sharing in one another’s traditions, witness and service in the world. “It is my prayer that congregations of the ELCA and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church will join together in worship, Scripture study and shared commitment to work for justice and reconciliation,” says Hanson.

During his tenure as ELCA presiding bishop, Hanson met with Pope John Paul II and with Pope Benedict (pictured here). Hanson was accompanied by the Rev. Jessica Crist, bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod and chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops; the Rev. Robert D. Hofstad, bishop of the ELCA Southwestern Washington Synod; and the Rev. Donald J. McCoid, assistant to the ELCA presiding bishop on ecumenical and inter-religious relations.

In 2012, Hanson participated in a panel discussion at the Coexist Prize Ceremony in New York City. Joining Hanson is Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and His Excellency Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the grand mufti of Egypt. The Coexist Prize is an international award established to recognize an unsung hero or heroine who has built bridges between people of different faiths.

Hanson gathered with the Rev. Martin Junge, general secretary of The Lutheran World Federation, and the Rev. Susan Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, for a 2013 meeting of the Federation’s North American regional representatives.

As presiding bishop, Hanson met with the ELCA Conference of Bishops and the ELCA Church Council to engage in decision-making, a mutual sharing of ministries, worship and study.

In a historic visit, Hanson participated in a delegation of church leaders representing The Lutheran World Federation who traveled together Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2012, to areas of the United States impacted by storms produced from Hurricane Sandy.

Passionate about youth and young adult ministries, Hanson attended ELCA Youth Gatherings to share messages of God’s love and grace among this church’s young leaders.

During his tenure as presiding bishop, Hanson served as chair of ELCA churchwide assemblies.

At the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, Hanson was awarded the Servus Dei Medal.

Farewell to ELCA Secretary David Swartling

Oct 29, 2013

With deep gratitude for a job well done, we bid farewell to ELCA Secretary David D. Swartling. Secretary Swartling concludes his term of office Nov. 1, 2013, after a six-year term. The Office of the Secretary provides administrative services and tools for the leaders of this church as they serve in congregations, synods, schools, agencies, the churchwide organization and for all who have been given governance responsibilities for this church.

David D. Swartling was elected to a six-year term as secretary of the ELCA by the Churchwide Assembly on Aug. 11, 2007. Pictured here are Lowell Almen, former secretary of the ELCA (far left), Mark Hanson, Barbara Swartling and David Swartling immediately after his election.

Secretary Swartling “shouldering” the Constitutions, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which he believes is a missional document that he hopes teaches us that the ELCA does ministry better “together” and that there is room in it for people who do not always agree.

David Swartling greets a visitor at the churchwide office in Chicago, who was on her way to a new home.

Carlos E. Peña, vice president of the ELCA, presents the Servus Dei Medal to David Swartling, secretary of the ELCA. His wife, Barbara, stands by his side. The Servus Dei (Servant of God) Medal is given to honor retiring officers of the ELCA.

David Swartling, left, shares a song with Denis Madden, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Bishop Madden received a standing ovation after he extended greetings to the Churchwide Assembly on Aug. 13, 2013.

David and Barbara Swartling relocated to Chicago from Bainbridge Island, Wash., when he became ELCA secretary. The Swartlings are returning to their home in the near future.

Reformation places and spaces

Oct 27, 2013

On Oct. 31, 1517, the eve of All Saints Day, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses against indulgences on the door of the Castle Church, Wittenberg, Germany. In modern times this event is considered the spark that led to the Reformation.

Portraits of Martin Luther and his wife, Katharina von Bora, painted by Lucas Cranach the Elder, a Renaissance painter, printmaker and friend of Martin Luther. These portraits, being placed by restorer Angelika Hoffmeister, hang in Kunstsammlung Boettscherstrasse, Bremen, Germany.

Pictured here is the Martin Luther statue at the site of the Coburg Night Market. Luther lived at Veste Coburg, one of Germany’s largest castles, for five months in 1530 during the Imperial Diet of Augsburg. His living and working quarters have been preserved.

In 2010 a controversial art installation of 800 plastic statues by Artist Ottmar Horl covered the Wittenberg market square while the iconic bronze statue of Luther was being cleaned. The 3-foot-tall plastic statues are now available for sale throughout the city. Warning — Wittenberg theologian Friedrich Schorlemmer describes the statues as theological and aesthetic abuse.

Third-year Wartburg College student Maren Hopkins in the Luther Room at Wartburg Castle, Wittenberg, Germany. This is where Martin Luther translated the Bible.

Worms, one of Germany’s oldest towns, boasts the largest Reformation monument in the world. It was at the Diet of Worms, from Jan. 28 to May 25, 1521, that Luther defended his 95 Theses. A “diet” was a formal deliberative or imperial assembly with the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, presiding.

A detail from current door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The bronze doors are inscribed with the 95 Theses in Latin and were commissioned in 1858 to commemorate the 375th anniversary of Luther’s birth. The original wooden doors, where Luther posted his theses in 1517 were destroyed by a fire in 1760.

Congregations celebrating special anniversaries

Oct 21, 2013

During this ELCA 25th-anniversary year there are quite a few congregations celebrating milestone events. Congratulations to all those celebrating anniversaries this year!

Incorporated in 1913, Hephatha Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The anniversary worship service included a blessing of the congregation’s pastor, Mary Martha Kannass.v

Four Mile Lutheran Church, Mabank, Texas, celebrated its 165th Anniversary on May 5, 2013. The celebration began with worship officiated by the ELCA Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod bishop, Kevin Kanouse, and Jan Castleberry, the congregation’s pastor.

Dressed in period vestments are, from left, Paul Tobiason, interim pastor, and Dennis Knutson of English Lutheran Church of Bateman, Chippewa Falls, Wis., during a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the congregation.

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Elk Point, the oldest Lutheran congregation in South Dakota, this year is celebrating 150 years.

Members of Messiah Lutheran Church, Washburn, Wis., kicked off their 40th anniversary on April 21, 2013, with dinner. The congregation has planned several events throughout this anniversary year. In this photo, members recall events with the help of a photo timeline.

In celebration of their one-year anniversary on Sept. 15, New Light Lutheran, Dundalk, Md., held their first church picnic and outdoor worship.