ELCA NEWS

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Recent News Stories

ELCA news releases are detailed accounts describing events and ministires of the ELCA 

ELCA News
  • Philip Hirsch elected executive director of ELCA Domestic Mission

    CHICAGO  – The Rev. Philip C. Hirsch was elected to a four-year renewable term as executive director of the Domestic Mission unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Hirsch was elected by the ELCA Church Council at its November meeting. His term will begin Feb. 1, 2019.

    Hirsch has served as director for evangelical mission and assistant to the bishop in the ELCA Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod since 2009. Before joining the synod staff, Hirsch served as pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Fairfax, Va., from 1999 to 2009. Hirsch was pastor of Christus Evangelical Lutheran Church in Camden, N.J., from 1994 to 1999, and he served his first call at Epiphany Lutheran Church in Camden from 1990 to 1994.

    "I am grateful for this opportunity to help serve and lead the church in its mission in the United States," Hirsch said. "I believe that Jesus Christ is the light of the world and the hope for our broken humanity. I look forward to helping our church grow in its ability to connect a younger and more ethnically and economically diverse people with the gospel. I am confident because I know the Holy Spirit always gives us wisdom, power and love far greater than the challenges we face." 

    Hirsch received his Bachelor of Arts from Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., in 1986 and his Master of Divinity degree from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 1990. The seminary is one of seven ELCA seminaries. Hirsch earned his Doctor of Ministry in homiletics from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, in 1997.

    The current executive director for Domestic Mission, the Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, has served since January 2008 and is retiring from the position Jan. 31, 2019. 

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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 3.4 million members in more than 9,100 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:

    Candice Hill Buchbinder
    773-380-2877
    Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org

  • ELCA, Episcopal, and Catholic Church leaders issue statement on East Jerusalem hospitals

    The Presiding Bishop and Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church on behalf of its House of Bishops, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committees on International Justice and Peace and Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs together wish to raise their grave concern that the Trump Administration has apparently decided to halt further U.S. humanitarian assistance to hospitals in East Jerusalem as part of a wider curtailment of U.S. funding that has been assisting the Palestinian people for many years.

    The four medical institutions associated with us include: Augusta Victoria Hospital (Lutheran) St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital and Princess Basma Rehabilitation Centre (both Anglican/Episcopal), as well as St. Joseph’s Hospital (Catholic), together with Makassed Islamic Charitable Hospital, and Red Crescent Maternity Hospital, are providing invaluable medical care for the most vulnerable populations, including Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank. We consider them integral parts of our common commitment to ministry in the Holy Land.

     

    These hospitals provide life-saving and, in some cases, unique forms of health care not available otherwise to Palestinians. For example, Augusta Victoria provides kidney dialysis for children and state-of-the-art cancer care. St. John of Jerusalem is the only charitable provider of expert eye care in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre provides services for children with a wide range of disabilities and has become one of the pioneering rehabilitation centers in autism treatment in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. St. Joseph’s is a 73-bed general hospital serving the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. All of these institutions provide extensive outreach services throughout the West Bank.

    Each has benefited from U.S. assistance for decades and, therefore, this decision to discontinue that funding leaves the patients, the wider Palestinian community, and us disappointed and perplexed. It is difficult for us to understand why this humanitarian assistance is being brought to a halt, given that lives are being threatened unnecessarily.

     

    Calling the decision “a blow to the health of the city”, more than a dozen Israeli doctors recently said, “a sudden and significant cut of support for medical services will cause imminent and serious harm to the health and wellbeing of those residents of the city who are well-served by these hospitals and medical centers.”

     

    In addition to being a morally correct thing to do, U.S. funding is key to paying pharmaceutical suppliers of medications, paying staff, and avoiding any interruption in the treatment of patients. We call on the President to restore this vital funding so that these patients will continue to receive the treatment and care they need.

     

     

    The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton

    Presiding Bishop
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Chair

     

    The Rev. William O. Gafkjen
    Bishop, Indiana-Kentucky Synod
    Chair, ELCA Conference of Bishops

     

    The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry

    Presiding Bishop
    The Episcopal Church

     

    Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera
    Bishop of Scranton

    Chair, USCCB Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs

     

    Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio

    Archbishop for the Military Services, USA

    Chair, USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace

     

  • ELCA presiding bishop responds to Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    I write to you with a broken heart – for the lives lost, wounded, and shattered by horrific hatred and violence at Tree of Life Congregation this morning. We join our Jewish neighbors and enter into mourning for all that has been lost. In our grief, God is our comfort. "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18).

    From Pittsburgh to Portland, and around the world, Jews are living in fear. Anti-Semitism is on the rise. Public acts of hatred and bigotry against Jews are commonplace. As Christians, and particularly as Lutherans, we deplore and reject this bigotry. "We recognize in anti-Semitism a contradiction and affront to the Gospel, a violation of our hope and calling, and we pledge this church to oppose the deadly working of such bigotry, both within our own circles and in the society around us" (1994 Declaration of the ELCA to the Jewish Community).

    We are reminded that hate-filled violence knows no bounds – whether a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, a Christian church in Charleston, or a Jewish synagogue In Pittsburgh. As people of faith, we are bound together not only in our mourning, but also in our response.  

    Therefore, in this tender moment of grief, let us reach out to those whose hearts are most broken – our Jewish neighbors. I encourage you to contact your local synagogue, or your Jewish colleagues, friends, and family members, to share your words of care, support, love, and protection. There may be specific acts you might offer to demonstrate your care, such as when the members of Faith Lutheran Church surrounded Congregation Beth Israel of Chico, California, serving as Shomrim, or guardians, as they observed Yom Kippur following a hate crime in 2009.

    Such simple acts can go a long way to demonstrate our love, as an extension of God's love. As we seek to heal the brokenhearted, we are assured that God is near. There is no greater promise in the face of grief.

    In peace,

    The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton

    Presiding Bishop, ELCA

  • ELCA Conference of Bishops, others focus on future directions goals

    CHICAGO – The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) continues to discern the denomination's future as outlined in the priorities and goals of Future Directions 2025. The conference is an advisory body of the ELCA that includes 65 synod bishops, the presiding bishop and the secretary.

    Meeting here Sept. 27-Oct. 2 under the theme "While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near," the conference engaged in discussions with senior leadership of the ELCA churchwide organization to explore in-depth the work that surrounds the five goals of Future Directions 2025 and the key priorities of congregational vitality and leadership.

    "Just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus discovered, we experienced the transforming power of the risen Christ's presence as we move forward together in new and deeper partnership within the conference and with other leaders and leadership teams of the ELCA," said the Rev. William O. Gafkjen, bishop of the ELCA Indiana-Kentucky Synod and chair of the conference.

    Other business for the conference included a report on the multicultural mission strategy to help assess where each synod is in implementing their goals toward increasing diversity in ELCA congregations. The strategy was developed in response to the resolution on racial justice adopted by the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The resolution encourages all rostered ministers to receive anti-racism training and every synod to develop or maintain resources for anti-racism training for rostered ministers and congregations at least every two years.

    Addressing concerns about U.S. funding of Augusta Victoria Hospital and five other East Jerusalem hospitals, the conference issued a statement that strongly "affirms ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton's Sept. 6 letter to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, calling for the 'release of $25 million of U.S. FY 2017 funding that will help to ensure that there is no interruption in the treatment of Palestinians at the East Jerusalem hospitals.' " The statement urged the president to "instruct the U.S. Department of State to release this vital funding so these patients will receive the treatment and care they need."

    The Inter-Religious Task Force presented a draft of the inter-religious policy statement. Following discussions, the conference recommended two amendments to the text. The draft policy statement, along with recommended amendments, will be considered by the ELCA Church Council at its November 2018 meeting. If approved, the statement will be considered by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.

    The conference also reviewed and offered responses to the draft social statement on women and justice. The proposed social statement will be delivered to the ELCA Church Council at its April 2019 meeting for consideration by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.

    In other business, the ELCA Conference of Bishops received:

    ·       A report on theological education from seminary presidents and leaders.

    ·       An update on Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA. As of July 31, the campaign has received $198 million for campaign priorities; $160 million in cash and commitments and $38 million in planned gifts. The period of the campaign has been extended an additional five months to June 30, 2019.

    ·       A report on the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering.

    ·       An update on the entrance rite recommendation for the roster of Ministers of Word and Service.
    ·       A report from the director for Mission Support. Mission Support is the financial offering from congregations shared with synods and the churchwide organization.

    ·       Reports from the ELCA vice president, treasurer and secretary and updates from the Conference of Bishops' various committees.

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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 3.5 million members in more than 9,300 worshiping communities 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:
    Candice Hill Buchbinder
    Public Relations Manager
    773-380-2877
    Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org


  • ELCA Conference of Bishops statement on East Jerusalem hospitals

    In early September, members of the Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) were saddened and dismayed to hear reports that the U.S. government was planning to discontinue financial assistance to Augusta Victoria Hospital and five other East Jerusalem hospitals. 

    We appreciate and strongly affirm ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton's Sept. 6 letter to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, calling for the "release of $25 million of U.S. FY 2017 funding that will help to ensure that there is no interruption in the treatment of Palestinians at the East Jerusalem hospitals, especially the most vulnerable cancer and kidney patients referred to Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) from Gaza and the West Bank."

    She noted that, as an institution owned and operated by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), "Augusta Victoria Hospital is able to operate because of the support of LWF member churches, like the ELCA, and long-standing partnerships with countries like the United States. In the last decade the U.S. government, through USAID, has invested nearly $10 million in AVH to bolster its capacity as a cancer center. In addition, the U.S. government has provided over many years tens of millions of dollars in aid to help cover the costs of the cancer patients and others referred to AVH and the other East Jerusalem hospitals."

    Eaton stressed the urgency of U.S. government action, saying: "The delay in the disbursement of the 2017 funding for the East Jerusalem hospitals is contributing to an acute and severe cash-flow crisis for AVH and the other hospitals," and that immediate release of the funds is necessary "so that AVH can make payments to pharmaceutical suppliers of cancer medications, pay staff and avoid any interruption in the treatment of patients."

    In the past several weeks, neither the LWF nor the ELCA have received any official announcement about the status of this funding and, therefore, we appeal to President Donald Trump to instruct the U.S. Department of State to release this vital funding so these patients will receive the treatment and care they need.

     

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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 3.5 million members in more than 9,300 worshiping communities 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:
    Candice Hill Buchbinder
    773-380-2877
    Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org

  • Lutheran World Federation's Augusta Victoria Hospital needs ELCA members' help

    Media reports say the United States will not continue to fund the Lutheran World Federation-operated Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem. Please call the White House hotline (202-456-1111) or write a comment in its comments submissions area to urge them to ensure there is no interruption of assistance for children and others in need of treatment for cancer and additional life-threatening diseases. This funding represents dollars already promised as part of the 2017 budget.

    Another way to help is to give today. Your gifts will be used over-and-above our church’s ongoing, annual support in order to prevent interruptions to the life-saving, critical care provided to children and other patients. Donate today.

    Prayer of Intercession:

    Look with mercy, gracious God, upon people everywhere who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death. We remember before you today the Palestinians who come for healing to East Jerusalem hospitals, including the Lutheran Hospital on the Mount of Olives. As these hospitals struggle now with keeping their doors open, send your Holy Spirit upon us and all government authorities to provide the support needed for your healing work to continue in Jerusalem; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    - - -

    About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
    The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.5 million members in more than 9,300 worshiping communities 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:

    Candice Hill Buchbinder
    773-380-2877
    Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org

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Confirmation 5:30 PM
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