ELCA Newshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/The ELCA makes innovation a priority for future growthhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/8015http://elca.org/News-and-Events/8015<div class="ExternalClass51FC71C560BF4434805768CCB1D83B64"><p>​CHICAGO&#160; — The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mikka McCracken as the new Executive for Innovation and Director, ELCA Leadership Lab. This new role will serve as a change champion, equipping and supporting the development of key leaders to address the most pressing problems of the church.&#160;</p><p>&quot;The way people hear and receive the gospel is changing at a at an increasingly rapid rate. The competitors of the gospel are many. What hasn't changed is the liberating good news that we are loved and are set free to serve the neighbor. The Leadership Lab gives us the space to experiment and innovate in real time so that more people can know more about Jesus and experience the love of God,&quot; stated Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the ELCA.</p><p>McCracken feels an innovation culture powered by the vocations and passions of many will help break through silos that too often render the church irrelevant in people's lives, our communities and the world.&#160;</p><p>&quot;I believe that God's grace and love in Christ matters and I am excited to be part of Bishop Eaton's vision for the future of this church. The Leadership Lab will be a church-wide innovation space where people can co-create, design and dream new and useful ideas, process and projects. This work will be new, and different, and hard, but in a way, it's a true call back to our Reformation roots. We want to become the innovation denomination.&quot;</p><p>A South Korean adoptee and life-long ELCA Lutheran, McCracken served most recently as Director for Strategy and Engagement with ELCA World Hunger. From 2010-2017, she served on the Lutheran World Federation international council, and currently serves on the Vorstand of the ELCA Wittenberg Center in Germany. McCracken is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and is currently pursuing a certificate in management excellence from Harvard Business School Executive Education.</p><p>&#160;</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 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 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><strong>Contact&#58;</strong><br>Candice Hill Buchbinder<br>Public Relations Manager<br>773-380-2877<br><span style="line-height&#58;115%;font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,serif;font-size&#58;10pt;">Candice.HillBuchbinder@elca.org<br> </span><br></p><div><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,serif;font-size&#58;10pt;"><br></span></div><p></p><p style="line-height&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,serif;font-size&#58;10pt;"> </span><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,serif;font-size&#58;12pt;"></span></p> <p><br></p><p><br></p></div>12/06/2019Presiding bishop statement on Israeli civilian settlementshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/8014http://elca.org/News-and-Events/8014<div class="ExternalClassE8D4AAE62E6F4D98B8649183536E266F"><p style="line-height&#58;normal;margin-bottom&#58;12pt;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,serif;">The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is very disturbed by the November 18 announcement by Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo that the Administration unwisely is changing current U.S. policy by stating that the “establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.” </span></p><p style="line-height&#58;normal;margin-bottom&#58;12pt;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,serif;">Our church has consistently called for an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory, the cessation of all settlement activities and withdrawal from settlements on Palestinian territory to the 1967 boundaries, a negotiated, final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and the establishment of and international support for a viable, contiguous Palestinian state. We will continue to work with ecumenical and inter-religious partners who share these commitments. In the long term, we wish to see Israelis and Palestinians co-existing in justice and peace, as citizens of viable and secure Israeli and Palestinian states.<span>&#160; </span></span></p><p style="line-height&#58;normal;margin-bottom&#58;12pt;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,serif;">The Administration’s announcement makes the realization of these outcomes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more difficult and distant, rather than advancing the cause of peace. The announcement, like earlier ones on the conflict, gives no evidence of having been developed in consultation with those who will be most adversely affected by this policy, namely the Palestinians in the occupied territory.<span>&#160; </span>Instead, it will give a “green light” to further settlement activity and a worsening of the conditions of occupation, including intensified military and police measures and the further diversion of natural and other resources that benefit only settlers.<span>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </span></span></p><p style="line-height&#58;normal;margin-bottom&#58;12pt;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,serif;">By reverting to the policy of the Reagan Administration, the new policy ignores facts that have been created on the ground since 1989 (from a settler population then of close to 200,000 to an estimated more than 700,000 at present in the West Bank and East Jerusalem).<span> </span>It also discredits international law such as various provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention -- to which Israel is a party --<span>&#160; </span>about the obligations of an occupying power as well as the prevailing international consensus about settlements, most recently articulated in Security Council resolution 2334 of 2016 (to which all UN member states are bound according to the UN Charter).<span>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </span></span></p><p style="line-height&#58;normal;margin-bottom&#58;12pt;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,serif;">Our distress with this announcement is primarily its impact on the daily life of Palestinians, especially our sisters and brothers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, but also their Christian and Muslim neighbors. We are also concerned with policy changes that further distance the United States from the prevailing international consensus on the path toward a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including respecting human rights standards and international law.</span></p><p style="line-height&#58;normal;margin-bottom&#58;6pt;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,serif;">God’s peace,</span> </p><p style="line-height&#58;normal;"><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,serif;">The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton<br></span><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,serif;">Presiding Bishop<br></span><span style="font-family&#58;&quot;times new roman&quot;,serif;">Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</span></p> <p><br></p></div>11/19/2019ELCA Church Council welcomes 23 new membershttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/8013http://elca.org/News-and-Events/8013<div class="ExternalClass45F18D8CA1AA4B45813D5CB647B3F862"><p>​CHICAGO — The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) met at the Lutheran Center in Chicago, Nov. 7-10. Twenty-three new members, elected by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly, were welcomed. The council serves as the ELCA's board of directors and interim legislative authority between meetings of the Churchwide Assembly.</p><p>The council took the following key actions&#58;</p><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Authorized use of ministry rites for pastors and deacons in response to constitutional changes by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly that identified ordination as the entrance rite for ministers of Word and Service. The ministry rites for ordination to the ministry of Word and Service, ordination to the ministry of Word and Sacrament, installation of a deacon and installation of a pastor will be effective Jan. 1, 2020.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Created an advisory team to receive updates, track progress and provide periodic reports on the &quot;Strategy Toward Authentic Diversity in the ELCA,&quot; adopted by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Adopted a continuing resolution authorizing the creation of a resource development committee of the council to continue developing strategies related to funding initiatives and future churchwide appeals.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Adopted the &quot;Memorandum of Mutual Recognition of Relations of Full Communion&quot; among The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the ELCA as a way to strengthen ties among the two U.S. and two Canadian churches.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Authorized development of a social message on the vocation of citizenship, civic engagement, and church and state, as requested by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Received the final report of its Theological Education Advisory Committee, approved the committee's recommended transition plan and thanked the committee members for their service.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Approved a 2020 spending authorization of $67,666,652 for the churchwide organization and $21,596,595 for ELCA World Hunger. <br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Received an update on development of the resource &quot;Trustworthy Servants of the People of God,&quot; the replacement for &quot;Vision and Expectations,&quot; which articulates the church's hopes and expectations for its rostered ministers.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Adopted the Reference and Counsel Committee recommendations regarding unfinished business from the 2019 Churchwide Assembly.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Referred to the Domestic Mission unit the Conference of Bishops recommendation that the unit give top priority to this church's response to the global crisis of climate change.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Thanked the Rev. Wyvetta Bullock for her faithful service as executive for administration and her many years of service to this church. Bullock will retire Jan. 30, 2020. </li></ul><p>&#160;<br>In a special order of the day, the council received a greeting from Ms. Rose Simmons, whose father, the Rev. Daniel Lee Simmons Sr., was one of the nine congregants martyred in June 2015 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.</p><p>The council also received reports from the church's presiding bishop, treasurer, secretary and vice president, from the ELCA Conference of Bishops, and from the ELCA's separately incorporated ministries. They also received greetings from ecumenical partners. </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 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 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> Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org<br> &#160;</p><p><br></p></div>11/13/2019Kathy Freeman Summers appointed president and CEO, ELCA Foundation, and executive director, Mission Advancementhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/8012http://elca.org/News-and-Events/8012<div class="ExternalClass89D1FAA56DDD48E9A8D340D834CA263D"><p>​CHICAGO — Kathy Freeman Summers was appointed to a four-year term as president and CEO of the ELCA Foundation and executive director of the Mission Advancement unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Her term began Oct. 1.</p><p>Summers brings to the ELCA more than 30 years of executive leadership in both nonprofit and for-profit organizations.</p><p>In her role as president and CEO of the ELCA Foundation, Summers will work closely with the board of trustees to oversee endowments and investments in the ELCA Foundation's proprietary Fund A, as well as the development of planned gifts. As executive director for Mission Advancement, she will oversee advancement services, mission funding and strategic communications for the ELCA.</p><p>Since 2016, Summers had served as executive director of the City Colleges of Chicago Foundation. City Colleges of Chicago is the largest community-college system in Illinois and one of the largest in the nation, serving more than 80,000&#160;students annually at seven colleges and five satellite sites.</p><p>Summers' responsibilities at City Colleges of Chicago included management of foundation assets, planning and strategy for the board of trustees, donor engagement, regulatory compliance and risk management. </p><p>She received a Bachelor of Science in education from Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Mo., and an MBA in marketing and finance from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Summers is a member of Salem Lutheran Church in Chicago.</p><p>&#160;</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 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 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> Public Relations Manager<br> 773-380-2877<br> Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org<br> <br><br></p><p><br></p></div>11/04/2019Pastoral message addresses Hong Kong protests http://elca.org/News-and-Events/8011http://elca.org/News-and-Events/8011<div class="ExternalClass347E574B915841E6BE08D816C2D3FA7F"><p>​October 2019</p><p style="margin-bottom&#58;0pt;">Pastoral Message to ELCA members&#58; </p><p style="margin-bottom&#58;0pt;">Accompanying the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong, </p><p style="margin-bottom&#58;0pt;">Hong Kong Lutheran Federation, </p><p style="margin-bottom&#58;0pt;">Hong Kong Christian Council</p><p style="margin-bottom&#58;0pt;">and all those living in Hong Kong</p><p>&#160;</p><p><span>We, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, have witnessed demonstrations in Hong Kong protesting several decisions by local authorities and expressing ongoing concerns about the future of the territory. These decisions have included the introduction of a controversial extradition bill, which has since been withdrawn, and several new regulations, issued in response to the demonstrations, that restrict civil liberties. Fears remain about what more these restrictions might mean for rights, liberties and governance.</span> The demonstrations initially were very peaceful, but more recently engagement with local police has sometimes resulted in violent confrontations.<span>&#160;&#160;&#160; </span></p><p>Members of the Christian community in Hong Kong hold varying views on the situation; some support the demonstrators while others oppose their activities.</p><p>I have sent a <a href="https&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Bishop_Eaton_Pastoral_Message_to_Hong_Kong_Churches.pdf?_ga=2.25747453.1339805369.1571670081-2025289056.1557504087">message</a> to the churches and other people there in recent days.</p><p>Last month, the 72 Protestant and Catholic churches all over Hong Kong came together for an event, “Pray for reconciliation, healing, and a way out for Hong Kong.” As the people of Hong Kong discern their future, I commend their Prayer of Commitment to members of our church. We pledge our solidarity with them in this time of turmoil and join in prayer for a peaceful resolution of this crisis.</p><p><em>Prayer of Commitment</em></p><p>Introduction&#58; In Hong Kong, where social turmoil has brought rapid changes, we rely on the unchanging Triune God to make a commitment together&#58;</p><p>Leader&#58; We are baptized into Christ by faith and united in Him regardless of race, gender or status (Gal. 3&#58;28).</p><p>Response&#58; We are determined to be humble, gentle, patient, and tolerant, to be peaceful, to maintain the unity of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4&#58;2). We refuse to let political disputes or any differences to divide the body of Christ.</p><p>Leader&#58; Over the past three months, many people in body and spirit, as well as the entire society, have been deeply traumatized. For this, we must confess our sins and pray for one another (James 5&#58;16).</p><p>Response&#58; We are determined to be diligent to follow Jesus Christ to heal the wounded physically and spiritually, and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to resist the power of evil (Eph. 6&#58;12).</p><p>Leader&#58; Everyone is created in the image of God. Each person’s dignity must be respected.</p><p>Response&#58; We are determined not to regard people as inhuman. We reject all words and deeds that degrade human dignity. We win through the Lord without hatred. We overcome evil with good (Romans 12&#58;17).</p><p>Leader&#58; The Lord commands us to do good, seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphans, and plead for the widow (Isaiah 1&#58;17).</p><p>Response&#58; We strive to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and love others as ourselves. We are determined to help those who are oppressed, regardless of political views; to defend the rights and interests of the minority groups, no matter the different stances; to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.</p><p>Leader&#58; Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14&#58;6). The Lord hates lies and loves honesty (Proverbs 12&#58;22; Psalm 5&#58;6).</p><p>Response&#58; We strive to witness to and practice the truth, to seek and defend the truth. We are determined never to confuse right and wrong, but to be blameless and to do no harm.</p><p>Leader&#58; In the face of the current political stalemate in Hong Kong, violence has been spreading and people are confused and fearful about their future. But we still believe that the Lord is in charge of history, and we are convinced that the Kingdom of Heaven will be fully realized.</p><p>Response&#58; We are determined, no matter what the situation, to hold fast to our conviction that love and faithfulness will prevail overall. We will not be moved because we know that no matter what happens, nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8&#58;38-39).</p><p>Both&#58; Amen</p><p>God’s peace,<br>Elizabeth A. Eaton<br>Presiding Bishop, ELCA<br></p> <p style="margin-bottom&#58;0pt;"><br></p><p>- - -<br></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 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 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> Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org</p><p>&#160;</p><p>&#160;</p><p style="margin-bottom&#58;0pt;"><br></p> <p><br></p></div>10/29/2019ELCA Conference of Bishops welcomes greater diversityhttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/8010http://elca.org/News-and-Events/8010<div class="ExternalClass8F71FD4C417C4B9FBECE357AB04FE2D0"><p>​CHICAGO — The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) met here Sept. 26–Sept. 30 under a theme from 2 Corinthians&#58; &quot;We have this treasure in clay jars.&quot; The conference, an advisory body of the ELCA, comprises 65 synod bishops, the presiding bishop and the secretary. The conference welcomed 13 new bishops elected since the last conference meeting in March.</p><p>&quot;Thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of God's people, the Conference of Bishops is now more diverse in more ways than it has ever been,&quot; said the Rev. William O. Gafkjen, bishop of the ELCA Indiana-Kentucky Synod and chair of the conference. &quot;This is such an important gift, both because of the particular gifts and experiences each member of the conference brings and because it uncovers assumptions, challenges disparities and inequities, and calls for repentance and transformation in a church unaccustomed to such blessed diversity.&quot;</p><p>In a report to the conference, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton addressed the actions taken by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, held Aug. 5-10 in Milwaukee. &quot;I am convinced that the decisions we took were gospel-based — both judgement and promise — not a flash-in-the-pan, reflexive attempt to seem 'relevant,'&quot; said Eaton. Alluding to Acts 15&#58;28, Eaton continued, &quot;'It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us' to take these steps.&quot;</p><p>During the meeting, the presiding bishop and the conference issued a <a href="https&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/PB_and_COB_letter_to_President_10-2019.pdf">letter</a> to President Trump urging him to restore funding to the Augusta Victoria Hospital and the other hospitals in East Jerusalem. &quot;We are concerned about the impact that cuts in U.S. humanitarian assistance for the West Bank and Gaza are having on cancer patients and others treated in these facilities,&quot; the bishops wrote. Augusta Victoria Hospital is owned and operated by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and supported by the ELCA and several other member churches of the LWF. The letter is in response to the memorial addressing the Augusta Victoria Hospital that was adopted by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.</p><p>The conference voted to recommend that the Church Council, at its November 2019 meeting, work in new and concrete ways to give priority to this church's response to the global crisis of<br>climate change. They also voted to commend the &quot;Memorandum of Mutual Recognition of Relations of Full Communion&quot; for adoption by the Church Council at the upcoming meeting.</p><p>The conference considered proposed ordination rites being developed in response to the assembly's decision to ordain ministers of Word and Service. No decision was made about a possible recommendation to the Church Council for adoption of these rites.</p><p>The Rev. Tracie L. Bartholomew, bishop of the ELCA New Jersey Synod and vice chair of the conference, was elected to a four-year term as chair of the conference. The Rev. Patricia A. Davenport, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, was elected to a four-year term as vice chair. Both positions are effective Jan. 1, 2020. Gafkjen has served as conference chair since 2016.</p><p>In other business, the ELCA Conference of Bishops received&#58;</p><ul><li>A report on the three-year Leadership Initiative, which is focused on encouraging lay and rostered leaders across the ELCA.</li><li>An update on the ongoing development of the resource &quot;Trustworthy Servants of the People of God,&quot; which articulates the church's hopes and expectations for its leaders.</li><li>A report on the conclusion of <em>Always Being Made New&#58; The Campaign for the ELCA</em>. The campaign ended June 30 with a total impact of $250 million, including $195 million in cash gifts and gift commitments, as well as $55 million in planned gifts to campaign ministries.</li><li>A training session presented by Aubrey Thonvold, executive director of Reconciling Works, that focused on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.</li><li>A report from the director for Mission Support, the financial offering from congregations that is shared with synods and the churchwide organization</li><li>Reports from the ELCA presiding bishop, vice president, secretary and treasurer, and updates from the Conference of Bishops' various committees.<br><br>- - -<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 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 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><br>For information contact&#58;<br> Candice Hill Buchbinder<br> Public Relations Manager<br> 773-380-2877<br> Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org<br> <br><br></li></ul><p><br></p></div>10/10/2019