A visual tour of ELCA congregations, people and events.
A new pastor in Jerusalem
Carrie Ballenger Smith, an ELCA pastor, was installed in September 2014 as pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem, an English-speaking congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Prior to Redeemer, Carrie served as pastor at Living Waters Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Crystal Lake, Ill. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land has been a member of The Lutheran World Federation since 1974. The denomination maintains a companion relationship with the ELCA. The Lutheran World Federation is a global communion of 144 member churches representing more than 72 million Christians. The ELCA is the communion’s only member church from the United States.
Carrie has served in rural, suburban and urban congregations in the Chicago area. She and Robert Smith are parents of two teenage sons.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land is called to serve all who are in need regardless of race, gender or political affiliation. The church empowers children, youth, women and men, encouraging all the baptized to be the people of God in service and witness.
While in Illinois, Carrie was active with a local interfaith consortium and was on the Global Mission Committee of the ELCA Northern Illinois Synod. In addition to being pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Carrie will be special assistant to Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.
Carrie is the recipient of the 2013 Brave Preacher Award from the Beatitudes Society for her sermon on gun violence, written after the 2012 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
The bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, Munib Younan, standing directly behind Carrie, is also president of The Lutheran World Federation. Carrie's husband, Robert Smith (right), is also a pastor and is special advisor to Bishop Younan in the bishop's capacity as president of The Lutheran World Federation.
The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer is a diverse congregation. People with a variety of backgrounds and nationalities gather in community.
Blessing all God’s creatures
The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi is observed on Oct. 4. St. Francis was an Italian friar who took a vow of poverty and cared for the poor. He also believed nature – including its creatures – was the mirror of God. He preached that it is our duty to protect and enjoy nature as both the stewards of God's creation and as creatures ourselves. In 1979, Pope John Paul II declared St. Francis to be the Patron of Ecology.
Many ELCA congregations celebrate the wonders of God’s creation and the legacy of St. Francis by holding pet-blessing services and activities for the community around this time of the year. It is a time to remember how God’s creatures – of all sizes, shapes and species – bless our lives and are essential to the environment that sustains all living things, including humankind. We commit ourselves to caring for their wellbeing in the world whether they be service animals, pets, domesticated animals, wild animals, pets in shelters, bugs or creatures that fly, crawl, run or swim.
“When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh” (Genesis 9:14-15). (Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas)
“Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark’” (Genesis 9:8-10). (First Lutheran Church & School, Torrance, Calif.)
“Four things on earth are small, yet they are exceedingly wise … the lizard can be grasped in the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces” (Proverbs 30:24, 28). (First Lutheran Church & School, Torrance, Calif.)
“God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth’” (Genesis 1:22). (Karl Gronberg, pastor of Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas)
“And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky’” (Genesis 1:20). (William Hurst, pastor of First Lutheran Church & School, Torrance, Calif.)
“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (Psalm 104:24). (First Lutheran Church & School, Torrance, Calif.)
'Gods work. Our hands.' Sunday, #2
ELCA members work every day to serve their neighbors and make the world a better place. “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday provides a unique opportunity for the nearly 10,000 congregations of the ELCA to join together for a dedicated day of service in communities across the country. From packing groceries to planting gardens, ELCA members put their faith in action during the Sept. 7 day of service, doing God’s work of restoring and reconciling communities in Jesus’ name throughout the world.
Members of Wilmington Lutheran Church in Arnegard, N.D., brought produce from their gardens and filled 39 grocery bags, which included a welcome note and an invitation to worship. The bags were delivered to oil-field workers and their families who live in campers.
In the rain, members of Grace Lutheran Church in Washington, N.C., helped take down and haul away an old playground that had caused several injuries over the summer. A safer replacement is being sought.
Small hands from Abiding Presence Lutheran Church in Rochester Hills, Mich., were a big help as the congregation harvested vegetables for a local food pantry and mulched trails and weeded wild-flower gardens in a nature preserve.
Members of Peace Lutheran Church in Las Cruces, N.M., cleared and weeded garden beds and planted seeds at Lynn Middle School. The congregation also worked with La Semilla Food Center, a local program that builds awareness about food issues.
Members of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lebanon Ind., painted the soccer shed for the Lebanon Area Boys and Girls Club. The shed was built by the congregation during the 2013 day of service.
‘God’s work. Our hands.’ Sunday
Thousands of ELCA members from across this church participated in the 2014 “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday. Wearing gold T-shirts, the day involved ELCA members serving their communities in ways that shared the love of God with all people. From striving to build awareness about hunger and poverty in the United States to cleaning up parks and neighborhoods, ELCA members were reminded that “we are church together for the sake of the world.”
Within the first few hours of a food drive hosted by a group of congregations from the ELCA Southeastern Iowa Synod, volunteers loaded vehicles with food to be delivered to local food pantries for sorting.
Members of Zion Lutheran Church in Davenport, stood by the entrance of Save-A-Lot from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. collecting food to support local food pantries. Many shoppers who donated said they have personally received food from a food pantry and wanted to give back.
This week an ELCA member from Denver asked Living Lutheran why so many church buildings have the same architectural elements and furnishings, such as tall peaked roofs, steeples, stained-glass windows, altars and pews in rows. Be sure to see how an ELCA synod bishop and pastor responded to that question in our Ask a Pastor section. In the meantime, enjoy these photos of ELCA church buildings from across the country.
St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Williams County, N.D.
ELCA higher education
The 500-year-old Lutheran intellectual tradition lives on in ELCA higher education. The 26 colleges and universities of the ELCA offer both undergraduate and graduate education in the best of liberal arts, pre-professional and professional education. Our schools are dedicated to the freedom of inquiry and the development of the whole person. At ELCA colleges and universities, students are educated for a sense of calling or vocation, opening the path toward a meaningful life of contribution to the common good through whatever career they choose. Enjoy these “back to school” images from students at this church’s colleges and universities.
On Move In Day at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, students walk through the university’s Memorial Gate to the applause of parents, faculty and staff. Four years later on graduation day, they will walk out of the gate. Capital University, an ELCA school, will welcome about 745 new students (plus 75 transfer students) this fall.
Andrew Larsen, a student at Pacific Lutheran University, was one of two Peace Scholars from Pacific at the Peace Scholars program in Oslo, Norway, this summer. Last spring, Larsen and fellow student Amy Delo attended the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Minneapolis held at Augsburg College (also an ELCA school) and the University of Minnesota. (Photo/John Froschauer)
Pacific Lutheran University student Nellie Moran, an economics and French double major, met some interesting people while working for the Democratic National Committee this summer. Nellie, who graduates in May, would like to eventually run for public office. Pacific Lutheran in Tacoma, Wash., is one of 26 ELCA colleges and universities. (Photo/White House photographer)
As a part of first-year orientation, students at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa., participate in Gettysburg is Volunteering Day, designed to enable students to help out and get to know their local community. This is performed in conjunction with the college’s award-winning Center for Public Service. Gettysburg is one of the ELCA’s 26 colleges and universities.
In anticipation of the 2014-2015 academic year, faculty, staff and students spruce up the campus of Newberry College in Newberry, S.C. Newberry is one of the ELCA’s 26 colleges and universities.