11/24/2015 3:00:00 PM
CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is hosting its first Grace Gathering, an event to help prepare Lutherans for the observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It will be held in partnership with the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans.
Grace Gathering will be held Aug. 10-13, which is the last four days of the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly – the denomination's highest legislative authority. The gathering will provide participants an opportunity to experience the church when members gather as an assembly. The assembly's voting members and gathering participants will worship together and engage in Bible study, experiential learning activities, fellowship and more.
Leymah Gbowee, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and ELCA International Leaders Scholarship recipient, is a keynote speaker. A Lutheran Christian, Gbowee inspires people to greater confidence in God's mercy in Christ through her organization's work – the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa and Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace.
Participants will also have the opportunity to attend assembly workshops and presentations, including a report from the ELCA presiding bishop, and they will be introduced to resources designed to help prepare for local and regional observances of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. Martin Luther, a 16th century monk, posted his "Ninety-five Theses" on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, in 1517. His action helped spur worldwide evangelical reforms in Christian teaching and practice.
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton offered the idea for Grace Gathering.
"The Grace Gathering will bring people together from all across the ELCA," said Eaton. "Participants will see the church in action, worship with churchwide assembly voting members, engage in experiential learning and attend a variety of workshops that will equip congregations and synods with tools to prepare for the observance. And, you know that when you get a couple of thousand Lutherans together, the singing will be great."
On Aug. 11, both voting members and gathering participants will be invited to take part in "God's Grace in Action Afternoon" – experiential learning activities in the New Orleans area and at the city's convention center. Topics for the learning tracks include promoting peace, understanding racism and reconciliation, promoting healthy learning environments, caring for creation, experiencing New Orleans cuisine, music and more.
A celebratory banquet and program will take place Aug. 12 to honor 500 years of the Lutheran witness to the gospel through an evening of music and entertainment featuring ELCA Glocal Musicians, according the Rev. Marcus Kunz, executive of ELCA theological discernment.
"As a synod bishop I was always delighted by the wonder and excitement of first-time synod assembly attendees. People were happily surprised by the scope of the work we do as the ELCA. They found the worship inspiring and were energized by being around so many other Lutherans. So I thought, why not make it possible for people to have the same kind of experience at a churchwide assembly," said Eaton, who served as bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod before becoming the ELCA's fourth presiding bishop.
Information about Grace Gathering is available at www.ELCA.org/gracegathering and the ELCA's observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is at www.ELCA500.org.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.7 million members in more than 9,300 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
Associate Director, ELCA Publications and Public Relations
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com