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Recent News Stories

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

ELCA News
  • A Pastoral Word on the Grand Jury Decision in Louisville

    For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. ― Ephesians 2:14

    In response to the grand jury decision in Louisville, Ky., we offer a word of prayer and healing following the decision not to charge police officers for Breonna Taylor's death. As a nation, we are struggling with and divided by the decision. It has affected so many of us in so many ways. We grieve the brokenness of the criminal justice system. We are tired and weary of the violence. Has not God created all of us to have inherent dignity, value and worth? 

    Despite the anger, violence and injustice connected with this sad and horrible tragedy, we should not abandon our neighbors. Our baptismal covenant with God calls us to better relationship with one another than we are currently demonstrating. We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ's presence in the world. The covenantal relationship we have with God in Christ leads us to our neighbors in a common cause to confront the reality of systemic racism in our country. 

    We come together at the cross. The proclamation of the gospel is the only nonnegotiable in the life of this church.  Yet, we know the gospel can be divisive for us in our ministry for justice and peace. As we dwell in God's word, we pray God will give us the strength and the courage to act in service of the gospel's free course for the life of the world. 

    Because of the cross, we have peace; we have hope; we are loved. We join with you in prayer for the Taylor family, Officer Hankison and his family, the prosecutor and his family, the grand jurors and their families, the community of Louisville and all who work for justice and peace. 

    In Christ, 

    Elizabeth A. Eaton                                                 William O. Gafkjen 

    Presiding Bishop                                                    Bishop 
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America              Indiana-Kentucky Synod, ELCA 

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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 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 "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


  • Bishop Eaton and Rick Steves host ELCA World Hunger virtual fundraiser

    ​CHICAGO — The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), along with Rick Steves, guidebook author and travel television host, and the Rev. Shelley Bryan Wee, bishop of the ELCA Northwest Washington Synod, will host  "Hunger in the Time of COVID-19: Life for Today, Hope for Tomorrow" to benefit ELCA World Hunger.

    This virtual fundraising event — the first of its kind — is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. Central time.

    During this pandemic we are witnessing an alarming increase in hunger around the world, and ELCA congregations are hard at work responding to the needs in their communities. The United Nations World Food Programme warns that acute food insecurity could almost double due to COVID-19. In the coming months, as many as 265 million people could face hunger extreme enough to put their livelihoods or lives at risk. "Hunger in the Time of COVID-19: Life for Today, Hope for Tomorrow" is an opportunity for the church to come together to respond to this global crisis.

    ELCA World Hunger is uniquely positioned to reach communities in need to help people secure long-term, sustainable change. This is accomplished by connecting people with resources to produce food and gain access to clean water, education, health care and sources of income.

    "Hunger in the Time of COVID-19: Life for Today, Hope for Tomorrow" will feature messages from ELCA World Hunger partners on the front lines of the hunger crisis and discussions about the root causes of hunger and poverty addressed in Steves' recent TV special Hunger and Hope: Lessons From Ethiopia and Guatemala.

    ELCA World Hunger has received a fundraising match of up to $250, 000.

    Register for the event.

     - - -

    About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
    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 "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


  • Presiding Bishop responds to gross disregard for human life and dignity at private detention facility

    "As Christ on the cross did not lose his dignity, but in fact revealed himself fully in vulnerability, every human who is being mistreated retains the image of God that confers dignity. A society should not deny a person's dignity for any reason." —ELCA social message "Human Rights," p. 4

    On Monday, Sept. 14, I learned of the very disturbing account of human rights violations against immigrant women in custody in the privately run Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga. The center is run by LaSalle Corrections under a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The whistleblower complaint that was filed on Monday by a licensed nurse practitioner revealed a pattern of medically unnecessary hysterectomies and medical neglect that violated women. Too often, the Christian community has given its tacit or explicit consent to acts of gender-based violence.

    God holds each of us responsible for the welfare of our neighbor. We therefore condemn these acts of coerced sterilization as a form of gender-based violence. This is especially true when the perpetrators wield significant power and control over women who are at elevated risk of injustice, abuse and violence.

    The ELCA acknowledges that "migrants, immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers often suffer more when they are women, girls, or gender non-conforming people" (ELCA social statement Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action). Further, the ELCA urges support for legal reforms, humane policies, and adequate services for migrants, immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, especially those who experience intersecting forms of oppression.

    This statement affirms previous ELCA teaching and policy that stress fairness and generosity in responding to newcomers in the United States through the biblical instruction to "welcome the stranger." The ELCA's commitment to U.S. legal and policy reform includes several social-policy resolutions anchored by compassion, justice and wisdom. Those resolutions prioritize addressing the root causes of mass migration, the unification of families, and just, humane enforcement.

    As a member of Christ's body, I share in the anguish and outrage evoked by these revelations of abuse and violence. Since Monday, we have learned that at least 17 women have come forward with stories of unwanted medical procedures, including sterilization, which itself carries a significant history of sin in our country against immigrants, people of color, Indigenous women, people with disabilities and many others.

    The sin of violence against the bodies of women cannot continue. People of all nations suffer violence inflicted upon them by others for gender-based reasons. We all have a responsibility to speak out against gender-based violence, to ensure that women and men, boys and girls, are safe in worship, at home, in the care of the state—in all places in our societies. That is why the ELCA is actively participating in #ThursdaysinBlack, the World Council of Churches' global ecumenical campaign to end and prevent gender-based violence.

    As the ELCA we strongly condemn gender-based violence and violations of human rights wherever they occur. We pray especially for the courageous women who have come forward. We look ahead to the expeditious investigation of these reports by the Department of Homeland Security as urged by members of Congress, to be completed by Friday, Sept. 25, 2020.
     

    In Christ,

    The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
    Presiding Bishop
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
     

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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 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 "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
     


  • Laura Barbins elected bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod

    ​CHICAGO — The Rev. Dr. Laura Barbins, Mentor, Ohio, was elected Sept. 12 to serve a six-year term as bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The election took place during an online synod assembly.

    Barbins was elected on the fifth ballot, with 171 votes. The Rev. Angela Freeman-Riley, pastor of Bethesda on the Bay Lutheran Church in Bay Village, Ohio, received 148 votes.

    The bishop-elect has served as pastor of Celebration Lutheran Church in Chardon since 2001 and adjunct faculty at Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, since 2018. Trinity is one of seven ELCA seminaries. Barbins served as interim pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church in Fairview Park, Ohio, from 1999 to 2000 and associate pastor for youth at Holy Trinity Lutheran in Nashville, Tenn., from 1995 to 1997.

    Barbins received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Roanoke College in Salem, Va., in 1990 and a Master of Divinity degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (now United Lutheran Seminary) in Gettysburg, Pa., in 1994. United is one of seven ELCA seminaries. Barbins received a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville in 2004.

    The Rev. Abraham D. Allende has served as bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod since 2014.

    Information about the Northeastern Ohio Synod is available at neos-elca.org/.

    - - -
    About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
    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 "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
     


  • Survey to assess pastoral needs for ministry in a multireligious world

    ​CHICAGO — The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is conducting a survey to collect the experiences and needs of the church for ministry in a multireligious world. The survey is a first step in the development of guidelines for the church as outlined in A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment: A policy statement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, adopted by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The declaration reflects the longtime inter-religious commitments of the church.

    The policy statement acknowledged that "there are many pastoral considerations beyond the scope of this declaration, for example, the common reality of multireligious family life. Therefore, the church recognizes the need for the ongoing development of appropriate pastoral aids, including guidelines for inter-religious marriages, pastoral counseling, religious education, and joint prayer services." Recently, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton appointed an ad-hoc committee to undertake the development of such guidelines.

    In the survey, issued Sept. 12, respondents are asked questions about their participation in pastoral situations such as inter-religious prayer services, responses to tragedy, social ministry work with partners, and pastoral care for inter-religious couples and families.

    "In these challenging times of COVID-19, racism and injustice, our inter-religious partnerships have been as important as ever," Eaton said. "As we seek to live out our inter-religious commitments, all of us are encountering new areas of pastoral need. Participation in this survey will help us to grow as we serve Christ's church together in a multireligious world."

    One version of the survey will be emailed directly to active rostered ministers. Another version is available online for participation from ELCA laity, retired rostered minsters, and ecumenical and inter-religious partners. The intention of the survey is to learn from all who participate in ELCA ministries in a multireligious world what their experiences have been, and what guidance and resources they need for the future. The survey will be open for one month, from Sept. 12-Oct. 12.

    Click here to participate in the survey. Active rostered ministers should take the survey emailed to them.
    - - -

    About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
    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 "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 congregations participate in annual day of service

    ​CHICAGO – On Sunday, Sept. 13, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will observe "God's work. Our hands." Sunday. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, ELCA members will mark the annual day of service by helping make a positive change in their communities, building and deepening relationships and sharing God's love.

    Although the pandemic has forced congregations to cancel in-person worship and move to virtual services, ELCA members have continued to support ministries that assist vulnerable people in their communities. "God's work. Our hands." Sunday will mark the work that congregations participate in on a daily basis.

    Projects to safely support communities in the time of a pandemic can include sewing masks; writing thank-you notes and assembling care packages for emergency care workers, teachers and other essential workers; helping with yard work for members who need assistance; delivering meals and groceries; and packing hygiene and personal care kits.

    Service offers the church an opportunity to explore one of the most basic Lutheran convictions: that all of life in Jesus Christ – every act of service, in every daily calling, in every corner of life – flows freely from a living, daring confidence in God's grace. For more than 30 years, the ELCA has been a church deeply rooted in faith and in sharing its passion for making positive changes in the world.  

    More information about the "God's work. Our hands." Sunday is available at elca.org/dayofservice.

    - - -

    About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
    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 "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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