ELCA Newshttps://elca.org/News-and-Events/ELCA Future Church design affirmed by ELCA Church Councilhttps://elca.org/News-and-Events/8083https://elca.org/News-and-Events/8083<div class="ExternalClass68A67076325B494799DD14421B1E2C9F"><p>​CHICAGO – The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has affirmed the proposed Future Church design that is focused on a renewed purpose to activate the entire church so that more people may know the way of Jesus and discover community, justice and love.&#160;The council, which serves as the ELCA's board of directors and legislative authority for the church between churchwide assemblies, held its electronic meeting Nov. 12-14.</p><p>Future Church is based in the belief that&#160;members, congregations, synods and the churchwide organization must work together to share the powerful witness of the gospel in the world and to invite more new, young and diverse people to experience God's grace in action. The new design identifies three priority areas&#58; a welcoming church that engages new, young and diverse people; a thriving church rooted in tradition&#160;and<em>&#160;</em>radically relevant; and a connected, sustainable church that shares in a common purpose and direction.</p><p>The Future Church structure will be implemented in the churchwide organization on Feb. 1, 2021. The structure will introduce three new home areas&#58; Christian Community and Leadership, led by the Rev. Philip Hirsch; Innovation, led by Ms. Mikka McCracken; and Service and Justice, led by the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla. Approximately 5% of the churchwide organization staff will be separated as a result of the new design.<br> <br>For more than 30 years the ELCA has experienced a rich history of ministry, but the church has also witnessed a pattern of significant decline with aging members and a membership profile that does not reflect the diversity of God's creation.<br> <br>ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton told the council that the COVID-19 pandemic had brought into sharper focus the need to respond more quickly to this rapidly changing world.<br> <br>&quot;Whether there had been a pandemic or not, we know we need to change. I think the pandemic helped us to see the urgency,&quot; Eaton said. &quot;We are presenting this design because we believe that this is the way God will enable us to move more quickly, more faithfully, and reach more people so that more people may know the way of Jesus.&quot;<br> <br>William B. Horne II, ELCA vice president and chair of the Church Council, said he believes the new design provides the opportunity to be church together, bringing about collaboration throughout the broader church.<br><br>In response to the continuing trends in membership and diversity and the data from an innovation readiness survey, the following new criteria&#160;were affirmed&#160;for the ELCA&#58;&#160;</p><ol><li>Prioritize the engagement of new, young and diverse people.&#160;&#160;<br></li><li>Unite all expressions of the church (congregations, synods and the churchwide organization) into one church—together.&#160;&#160;<br></li><li>Align decision-making, accountability and leadership where best suited.&#160;&#160;<br></li><li>Operate in agile, flexible and speedy ways.&#160;&#160;<br></li><li>Act based on data and measurable impact.&#160;</li><li>Eliminate silos and divisions.<br>&#160;</li></ol><p>In other business, the council&#58;</p><ul><li>Approved a 2021 fiscal year current fund spending authorization of $65,847,000; and a 2021 ELCA World Hunger spending authorization of $21,500,000.<br><br></li><li>Elected Ms. Alyssa J. Cobb and the Rev. Daniel W. Gerrietts to the Church Council for terms ending in 2022.<br><br></li><li>Received an update from the Committee on Appeals about drafted updates to the church's <em>Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline.</em> The document describes the grounds for which officers, rostered ministers, candidates for rostered ministry, congregations and members of congregations may be subject to discipline according to the practice of this church.<br><br> </li><li>Deferred the question of developing a document outlining this church's high aspirations for rostered ministers until after spring 2021 when <em>Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline</em> is further redeveloped.<br><br> </li><li>Deferred questions of developing a social message on U.S. national drug policy, aging, gender identity or gun policy until the spring 2021 Church Council meeting..<br><br></li><li>Approved reconsideration of the social message on Suicide Prevention (1999) for editorial changes for the sake of accuracy and relevance to the contemporary social context.<br><br></li><li>Encouraged the continuation of research and work toward economic justice and the study of reparations and engagement in anti-racism and racial justice work, and requested a report on the naming of an annual Day of Repentance, including a liturgical resource of lamentation and repentance to accompany this annual Day of Repentance, to the spring 2021 Church Council meeting.<br><br></li><li>Urged this church to continue its efforts to repent the sin of racism and white supremacy and to raise awareness of the Emanuel 9 commemoration.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Adopted the Mission Investment Fund Deferred Compensation Plan and the Mission Investment Fund Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan.<br><br></li><li>Approved additional voting members for the 2022 Churchwide Assembly.<br><br></li><li>Approved amendments to the Portico Benefit Services Plan and Trust.<br><br></li><li>Approved amendments to the articles of incorporation of Luther Seminary. Luther is one of seven ELCA seminaries.<br><br></li><li>Adopted amendments to continuing resolutions in the <em>Constitution, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions</em> <em>of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</em>.<br><br></li><li>Approved amendments to the corporate social responsibility documents to serve as the basis for ongoing corporate social responsibility work in this church.<br><br></li><li>Elected members to the governing bodies of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, United Lutheran Seminary, Wartburg Theological Seminary, and National Lutheran Campus Ministry Inc.<br><br></li><li>Elected members to fill vacancies to the board of trustees of 1517 Media, the publishing house of the ELCA.</li></ul><p>The council also received reports from the church's presiding bishop, treasurer, secretary and vice president, and from the ELCA Conference of Bishops.</p><p>- - -</p><p><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; 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.<br> <br></p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Candice Hill Buchbinder<br> 773-380-2877<br> <a href="mailto&#58;Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</a><br> &#160;</p><p><br></p></div>11/16/2020Indigenous Peoples Month eventshttps://elca.org/News-and-Events/8078https://elca.org/News-and-Events/8078<div class="ExternalClass02BE0D1A8E354322B3978A51CFA4D173"><p>​In honor of Indigenous Peoples&#160;Month, the ELCA is remembering the National Indian Lutheran Board (NILB)&#160;in two separate Zoom sessions, November 9 and 10.&#160; The NILB,&#160;a pan-Lutheran organization founded 50 years ago, established&#160;relationships between Lutherans and Tribal Nations and Leaders.<br></p><p> <strong>On Monday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. CST (6 p.m. MST) join the&#160;screening of &quot;Native Nations Standing Together for Civil Rights,&quot;</strong>&#160;a one-hour documentary exploring the role of the National Indian Lutheran Board and actions taken during the American Indian civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1980s in Indian Country.&#160; ELCA&#160;Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton will comment on the video.<br>Hosted by Vance Blackfox and Other+Wise (www.otherwise.red).<br></p><p>Pre-registration&#160;is required&#160;for this webinar&#58;</p><p> <strong>Register in advance for this webinar&#58;</strong><br> <a href="https&#58;//us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jVgeVeBQQZi0QEuShv_S8Q" target="_blank">https&#58;//us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jVgeVeBQQZi0QEuShv_S8Q</a><br></p><p>After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.<br></p><p> <strong>On Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. CST (9 a.m. MST),&#160;join the NILB leadership for&#160;a virtual panel discussion to&#160;celebrate the 50th anniversary of the NILB.</strong> During this 90-minute session, the participants&#160;will look back to a unique and treasured time when Indians and Lutherans came together to understand one another, to appreciate each other's cultures, and to join in a fight for justice in Indian Country. In&#160;celebrating this milestone of history, many look forward to reinvigorating&#160;the relationship between Indians and Lutherans and renewing the commitments to work for justice together.&#160;&#160;<br></p><p>Pre-registration not<strong></strong>&#160;required.</p><p> <strong>Join Zoom Meeting<br></strong><a href="https&#58;//us02web.zoom.us/j/2101916871?pwd=dGVtZ1g1RzZpLzRWOVoxcVY2OHBrQT09" target="_blank">https&#58;//us02web.zoom.us/j/2101916871?pwd=dGVtZ1g1RzZpLzRWOVoxcVY2OHBrQT09</a><br></p><p>Meeting ID&#58; 210 191 6871<br>Passcode&#58; 5201616645</p>For more information, contact&#160;Vance Blackfox at <a href="mailto&#58;vance@otherwise.red">vance@otherwise.red</a>.&#160; <div> <br> <p>&#160;</p><p> <br> </p></div></div>11/06/2020ELCA Presiding Bishop Election Messagehttps://elca.org/News-and-Events/8077https://elca.org/News-and-Events/8077<div class="ExternalClassD49ACBFA7CAC40CE96D79B56D426522E"><p>​ELCA presiding bishop Elizabeth Eaton speaks&#160;to the church about the election in a <a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=dY8Netujyig&amp;feature=youtu.be">video message</a>.</p><p>Transcript below.</p><p>Today, the uncertainty of this election is causing anxiety and stress for many, not only in our church, but also&#160;across&#160;our&#160;nation and around the&#160;world.&#160;Even&#160;in the midst of&#160;a pandemic,&#160;voters have done their jobs and turned out in record numbers.&#160;And&#160;now our election officials are doing theirs, as they have in every&#160;previous&#160;election.&#160;We are thankful the election process has been peaceful.&#160;</p><p>The United States has always held elections and upheld a peaceful transfer of power, even in times of great crisis. We held successful presidential elections during&#160;the Civil War, the Great Depression and both World Wars.&#160;We&#160;honor our nation's legacy by exercising calm and patience while we wait for every vote to be counted while our election system does its work.&#160;</p><p>Regardless of the outcomes&#160;of this&#160;election, the&#160;ELCA&#160;will&#160;continue to&#160;lift up&#160;the gospel of Jesus Christ&#160;as the basis for equity, justice, and peace for all peoples and creation.&#160;As disciples&#160;in a&#160;democracy,&#160;we will&#160;hold fast to&#160;our&#160;commitments&#160;to gender justice,&#160;to&#160;dismantling&#160;white supremacy&#160;as&#160;an anti-racist church,&#160;to&#160;welcoming the stranger&#160;and&#160;accompanying&#160;the neighbor,&#160;to&#160;affirming LGBTQIA+ siblings,&#160;and&#160;seeking&#160;economic justice for all.&#160;&#160;</p><p>Dear church, this is a time to&#160;uphold the integrity of our election process,&#160;and&#160;it's also time for patience and prayer. Let us pray for election officials and peaceful advocates.&#160;Let us pray that all people in our nation will be treated with dignity and respect and not be discriminated against or intimidated during this deliberative process. &#160;</p><p>And let us pray now<em>.</em>&#160;<br><em>Sovereign God, your Son Jesus lived within the structures of society&#160;even as he spoke truth to those in power and challenged systems of oppression. Empower us to be courageous&#160;disciples&#160;and&#160;responsible citizens. Grant that our life in the public realm be grounded in&#160;the&#160;love for our neighbors, care for the most vulnerable&#160;in our midst and respect for the common life we share, following the example of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.</em>&#160;<br>&#160;</p><p>---</p><p><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands.,&quot; 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.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Candice Hill Buchbinder<br> 773-380-2877<br> <a href="mailto&#58;Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</a><br></p><p><br></p><p>&#160;</p><p>&#160;<br></p></div>11/04/2020Christopher deForest elected bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Pennsylvania Synodhttps://elca.org/News-and-Events/8076https://elca.org/News-and-Events/8076<div class="ExternalClassF7E7A8B91F8A4868B5380E5EDE1850AE"><p>​CHICAGO&#160;— The Rev. Christopher deForest, Kutztown, Pa., was elected Oct. 24 to serve a six-year term as bishop of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The election took place during an online synod assembly.</p><p>Rev. deForest was elected on the fifth ballot, with 260 votes. The Rev. Ryan Hersch, pastor of Atonement Lutheran Church in Wyomissing, Pa., received 222 votes.</p><p>The bishop-elect has served as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Kutztown, Pa., since 2018. He served as pastor at St. John's Lutheran Church in Lehighton, Pa., from 2011 to 2018 and as admissions advisor for Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, from 2010 to 2011. Wartburg is one of seven ELCA seminaries. Prior to his ordination, deForest was interim executive director for the Haitian Timoun Foundation from 2007 to 2008, director of communications for PartyLite Gifts, Inc., from 1993 to 2003 and a video creative specialist for Tupperware from 1987 to 1992.</p><p>Rev. deForest received a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 1987 and a Master of Divinity degree from Wartburg Seminary in 2009. </p><p>Rev. deForest's installation is scheduled for Dec. 5.</p><p>The Rev. Samuel R. Zeiser has served as bishop of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod since 2008.</p><p>Information about the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod is available at <a href="http&#58;//nepasynod.org/">nepasynod.org/</a>.</p><p>- - -<br><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands.,&quot; 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.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Candice Hill Buchbinder<br> 773-380-2877<br> <a href="mailto&#58;Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</a><br> &#160;</p><p><br></p></div>10/30/2020ELCA presiding bishop issues election statementhttps://elca.org/News-and-Events/8075https://elca.org/News-and-Events/8075<div class="ExternalClassDB565CE5DB1841D7AF59A8F0DDF59059"><p>​“God’s care for human society calls us to rise again each day … to appreciate — and do — the work of self-government.” (From the ELCA social message “Government and Civic Engagement in the United States,” p. 18)<br></p><p>This coming Sunday, Nov. 1, at 4 p.m. Eastern time, I will join many other religious leaders in the <a href="https&#58;//episcopalchurch.org/holding-hope">Holding On to Hope National Prayer Service</a>, to be held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Please join me for this special occasion to pray for the good of our nation on the eve of Election Day. Even as we pray, we are called to participate in our nation’s electoral process as one way God works through us to love and serve the neighbor (Matthew 22&#58;39). Our vote is a choice about what will make our society a more just, more whole community where human dignity is honored and rights are upheld.<br>&#160;<br>Throughout our church, many are experiencing heightened anxiety around the 2020 election. I confess that I feel it, too. Elections often raise tensions, but this season more than half of Americans say they are <a href="https&#58;//health.clevelandclinic.org/stressed-about-the-elections-5-tips-to-get-you-through/">stressed over the future of our nation</a>. We are beset by negative ads, targeted by misinformation campaigns and worried by reports of foreign interference. We are seeing unprecedented numbers voting early and many concerned for safety on Election Day. There are concerns about voter suppression and voter fraud, the near-certainty of delayed results and fear of election-related unrest or violence. We experience all of this under the weight of a pandemic, in a year that has been filled with many crises, especially the ongoing scourge of racism and white supremacy.<br>&#160;<br>But as an American, I am hopeful. Commitment to the common good is embedded in the ideals expressed in our nation’s founding documents. These have assisted our country to transcend its bleakest moments, and I trust they will help us to do so now. We remain committed to fair and equitable voting as a bedrock for democracy. Respectful vigorous debate is part of the foundation and strength of our nation and an important step in our pilgrimage toward the horizon of “a more perfect union.”<br>&#160;<br>As a member of Christ’s church, I am hopeful. We are stewards of public life for the common good. “The ELCA holds to the biblical idea that God calls God’s people to be active citizens and to ensure that everyone benefits from the good of government” (”<a href="https&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Government_and_Civic_Engagement_Social_Message.pdf">Government and Civic Engagement</a>,” p. 14). Aware of the urgent need for a “public life worthy of the name,” the 2013 ELCA social policy resolution “Voting Rights to All Citizens” acknowledges that many people of color and other minority groups face barriers to their right to vote. Our church has long held that it is our responsibility to act to ensure the right to vote without intimidation or interference. Our public leadership as disciples of Jesus Christ matters at this important time. Our civic engagement is not motivated by politics or partisanship. It is a call to genuine service of the neighbor in need. It recognizes that we can disagree about political means yet become ambassadors of hope, healing, reconciliation and justice.<br>&#160;<br>As I stated in <a href="https&#58;//youtu.be/gBT2v4P7wVo">this recent video</a>, it is imperative that we allow the election process to take place and ensure that every voice be heard and every vote counted. Our church is speaking up on the importance of <a href="https&#58;//www.afsc.org/document/faith-leaders-statement-integrity-safety-and-fairness-2020-us-election">free and fair elections</a>. There are many ways we can all be <a href="https&#58;//blogs.elca.org/advocacy/engagement-before-during-after-election/">involved</a> responsibly in stewarding the gift of government, including as poll workers and election monitors, by feeding those waiting in long lines, by disseminating accurate information about voting, by sharing our appreciation with all those who serve to uphold our rights and responsibilities, by promoting patience so that every vote is counted, by planning ahead to address tensions and promote nonviolence, and through our fervent prayers.<br>&#160;<br>Let us pray together for our nation&#58; O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope. Where anxiety is infectious and widening, grant peace and reassurance. Where distrust twists our thinking, grant healing and illumination. Help us in these days to elect trustworthy leaders, participate in wise decisions for our common life and serve our neighbors. Bless those we elect, that our nation may grow toward peace among ourselves and be a blessing to other nations of the earth; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.<br>&#160;<br>In Christ,<br>&#160;<br>Elizabeth A. Eaton&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;<br>Presiding Bishop&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; <br>Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</p><p>&#160;- - -<br></p><p><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America&#58;</strong><br>The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands.,&quot; 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.<br><br>For information contact&#58;<br>Candice Hill Buchbinder<br>Public Relations Manager<br>773-380-2877<br><a href="mailto&#58;Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</a><br></p></div>10/28/2020ELCA receives grant through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiativehttps://elca.org/News-and-Events/8074https://elca.org/News-and-Events/8074<div class="ExternalClass2A5E960413D04975A35E2806B3F1E576"><p>​CHICAGO&#160;– The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has received a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the <strong>&quot;</strong>Congregations Lead&#58; Innovation Denomination&quot; initiative.</p><p>The program is funded through Lilly Endowment's Thriving Congregations Initiative. The aim of this national initiative is to strengthen Christian congregations so they can help people deepen their relationships with God, build strong relationships with one another and contribute to the flourishing of local communities and the world.</p><p>Lilly Endowment is making nearly $93 million in grants through the initiative. The grants will support organizations as they work directly with congregations and help them gain clarity about their values and missions, explore and understand better the communities in which they serve,&#160;and draw upon their theological traditions as they adapt ministries to meet changing needs.</p><p>The ELCA envisions a world that experiences the difference God's grace and love in Christ make for all people and creation. As ministry challenges and opportunities only become increasingly complex, congregations must be grounded in Lutheran faith practices and equipped and inspired to adapt and innovate for the future so that their communities may thrive. With a decline in membership and a demographic profile that does not reflect the diversity of the United States, the ELCA has embarked on a renewed purpose to invite more people into the way of Jesus.</p><p>In collaboration with strategic partners, including four ELCA synods, and through a congregational team cohort model, the ELCA churchwide organization seeks to inspire congregations as they discover new and useful ministry innovations, sparking the ELCA's &quot;innovation denomination&quot; movement. In 2019, the ELCA launched the Innovation Lab as a space for the church to generate ideas, unleash creativity and create positive change in the world.</p><p>&quot;As we consider the future of the ELCA, we are developing plans to ensure that we are positioned to answer God's call to invite more into the way of Jesus — the way of community, justice and love,&quot; said the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop. &quot;Lilly Endowment's Thriving Congregations Initiative enhances this work, and will help us reach more new, young and diverse people so that they will know about life in Christ through the bold, faithful, courageous witness of our congregations, in order that all might 'have life, and have it abundantly.'&quot;</p><p>ELCA ministries that are also receiving grants through the Thriving Congregations Initiative are the ELCA Indiana-Kentucky Synod, the ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod, the ELCA Oregon Synod, St. Olaf College, Augsburg University and Calvary Lutheran Church in Alexandria, Minn.</p><p>The ELCA is one of 92 organizations taking part in the initiative. They represent and serve churches in a broad spectrum of Christian traditions, including Anabaptist, Baptist, Episcopal, evangelical, Lutheran, Methodist, Mennonite, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Reformed, Restoration, Roman Catholic and Orthodox, as well as congregations that describe themselves as nondenominational. Several organizations serve congregations in Black, Hispanic and Asian-American traditions.</p><p>&quot;In the midst of a rapidly changing world, Christian congregations are grappling with how they can best carry forward their ministries,&quot; said Christopher Coble, Lilly Endowment's vice president for religion. &quot;These grants will help congregations assess their ministries and draw on practices in their theological traditions to address new challenges and better nurture the spiritual vitality of the people they serve.&quot; &#160;</p><p>Lilly Endowment launched the Thriving Congregations Initiative in 2019 as part of its commitment to support efforts that enhance the vitality of Christian congregations.<br></p><p>- - -<br></p><p><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><strong>About Lilly Endowment Inc</strong></span><strong>.</strong></p><p><strong>Lilly Endowment Inc.</strong> is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly &amp; Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders' wishes, the Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis and home state, Indiana. The principal aim of the Endowment's grantmaking in religion is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen their pastoral and lay leadership.</p><p><br><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br>The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands.,&quot; 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.</p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Candice Hill Buchbinder<br> 773-380-2877<br> <a href="mailto&#58;Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org">Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</a><br> &#160;</p><p><br></p></div>10/15/2020