ELCA NEWS

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Recent News Stories

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

ELCA News
  • Response to COVID-19 from ELCA presiding bishop

    ​Dear church,

    The last couple of weeks have been trying ones for everyone across this church. Our synods, congregations and ministries are facing challenges that they’ve never faced before. Being church together means more now than ever before.

    The churchwide office is launching a comprehensive Covid-19 response across the ELCA beginning today. We have three new approaches designed to provide several levels of support for our most vulnerable congregations and ministries. These three approaches are Daily Bread Grants, Here to Serve, and the Covid-19 Response Appeal.

    DAILY BREAD GRANTS

    ELCA World Hunger is announcing the immediate launch of Daily Bread Matching Grants. Through these grants, ELCA congregations can raise funds for their feeding ministries using an online fundraising platform and will receive a grant of $500 from ELCA World Hunger. Up to 100 Daily Bread Matching Grants are available for ELCA congregations on a first-come, first-served basis, with the possibility of more grants becoming  available in the future. Apply or donate here.

    HERE TO SERVE

    The churchwide organization is inherently a resource in support of the members, congregations, synods and partners of the ELCA. During this time, Domestic Mission will pivot to a project-based, service-oriented structure so this church knows we are here to serve. By the first week of April, we will launch a chat function on ELCA.org along with an 800 hotline for prayer, support and questions that will be answered by our staff. As soon as these channels are live, we will let you know.

    COVID-19 RESPONSE APPEAL

    It’s more important now than ever to support our church across the country through these difficult times. We will begin to raise funds to support our congregations, ministries and synods. This effort will launch the week of March 30 via email and social media with a special form online to donate.

    In addition to our new three-pronged response, our work continues in providing and updating resources on ELCA.org/publichealth. We are also still at work in the world. Our global mission work continues and grows in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are working with our global companions to provide support where we can. Learn more about that here.

    I am proud to say that even during challenging times, we continue our service in living out the mission of this church: Together in Jesus Christ we are freed by grace to live faithfully, witness boldly and serve joyfully.

    Peace and be well,

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

     


  • An invitation to join in the Lord's Prayer

    Dear Church,

    The Evangelical Lutheran Church America, as part of the body of Christ, is united with other Christians in our communities, in our country and around the world. This unity takes many forms, including prayer.

    I am writing to extend an invitation we have received from Pope Francis, through the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches, to join in the Lord's Prayer tomorrow, March 25, at noon your local time. Please share this invitation through your synods, congregations, ecumenical communities and individual networks.

    During the global pandemic of COVID-19, the church can and should give witness to our unity in Christ and express our deep concern for God's creation. Despite social distancing, through prayer we are able to enter together into the presence of Christ and the communion of believers. By praying the prayer that Christ taught us, we are united with followers of Jesus in every time and in every place. When the church gathers in this way, we can be assured that Christ, our eternal hope, is present in the midst of suffering.

    In Christ,

    The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton

    Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

    - - -

    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 Church Council and ELCA Conference of Bishops hold first-ever multiday joint meeting

    ​ITASCA — For the first time in the history of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the ELCA Church Council and the ELCA Conference of Bishops held a joint meeting over multiple days. The purpose of the meeting was to nurture their relationship and foster dialogue around shared work that guides this church into the future to which God is calling it.

    During the historic meeting, held March 6-8 at the Eaglewood Resort in Itasca, Ill., the council and conference received and participated in the following:

    • Reports from the ELCA presiding bishop, secretary, treasurer and vice president.
    • Conversations on congregational vitality and anti-racism and authentic diversity.
    • Discussions around what it means to be a sanctuary church and potential future guidance for this church.
    • Update on Mission Support experiments in synods. Mission Support is the financial offering from congregations shared with synods and the churchwide organization.
    • Update on the ELCA Innovation Lab.
    • Conversation on health care benefit plans.

    The meeting also included time for the council and the conference to hold their separate annual spring meetings.

    In key action, the council, which serves as the ELCA board of directors and legislative authority between churchwide assemblies, voted to remove the document "Vision and Expectations" from use in the ELCA. In its action the council affirmed that "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline" remains the document that describes the grounds by which officers, rostered ministers, congregations and members of congregations may be subject to discipline according to the practice of this church. Candidates for rostered ministry are also held to the disciplinary standards stated in the document.

    The council requested that all relevant documents and manuals, including candidacy and mobility documents, will be updated by June 1, 2020, to reflect the role of "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline" in defining the grounds for discipline.

    In other action the council approved nonsubstantive edits to "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline" and "Manual of Policies and Procedures for the Management of the Rosters of the ELCA," removing references to "Vision and Expectations" and addressing changes to the rosters and entrance rite adopted by the 2016 and 2019 ELCA churchwide assemblies; changes to the law related to same-gender marriage; and changes to the Constitution, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions of the ELCA.

    The council also requested that the Domestic Mission unit engage in conversation with the Conference of Bishops at its fall 2020 meeting and the Church Council at its November 2020 meeting to consider the goals and purpose behind a new aspirational document.

     
    In other business, the council:

    • Directed Portico Benefit Services to take actions necessary to offer at least two health plans that have 78-82% actuarial value for sponsoring organizations to offer and for members to enroll in, beginning with the 2021 plan year.
    • Approved a church council designated fund with excess funds from fiscal year 2018 and fiscal year 2019 to be released to fund any budget shortfall in future years.
    • Approved a timeline presented by the Domestic Mission unit for this church's response to the global crisis of climate change. This is in response to a recommendation by the Conference of Bishops brought to the council at its fall 2019 meeting.
    • Authorized the executive committee to elect trustees to fill, until the November 2020 meeting, vacancies on the board of trustees of the ELCA Foundation.
    • Approved Portico's discontinuation of collection of a surcharge that was being used to fund the Benefits Contribution Trust.
    • Elected members to the boards of directors of four ELCA seminaries.
    • Expressed thanks to the Conference of Bishops for gathering with the Church Council and sharing its knowledge, experience and perspectives.

    During its meeting, the Conference of Bishops approved a plan to alter the current assignment process for candidates for rostered ministry. Potential benefits of the new plan include being able to create a more streamlined process that is localized, encouraging synods to take responsibility for their own candidates. The approved plan will be designed as a three-year experiment and will uphold the practice of encouraging persons newly entranced into the candidacy process to consider serving across the church. The current system of assignment for ELCA candidates will remain in place through September 2020. A plan of implementation is being drafted by a task force and will be finalized at the fall 2020 meeting of the Conference of Bishops.

    The conference also received a 10-year review of the role of director for evangelical mission. The directors are churchwide staff who coordinate the partnership between the ELCA's churchwide ministries and its 65 synods. The bishops decided to better focus the role of the directors around helping foster congregational vitality and improving communication between synodical bishops, directors for evangelical mission and staff of the churchwide organization.

     
    - - -

    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 presiding bishop issues pastoral message in response to COVID-19 pandemic

    ​CHICAGO – In her message to this church about the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), said that even though "this is a time of disruption. It is also a time to live and act as faithful people of God."

    "Circumstances now are forcing a change in our behavior," said Eaton. "But let's see this as an opportunity for us to pause and reflect, to breathe, and to think about what it means to be the body of Christ. How do we stay connected when gathering is discouraged? How do we care for our neighbor?"

    Watch Bishop Eaton's message and find resources that offer guidance for congregations and members.

    - - -
    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
    Public Relations Manager
    773-380-2877
    Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org


  • ELCA Church Council votes to remove “Vision and Expectations”

    ​CHICAGO — The ELCA Church Council voted today to remove "Vision and Expectations" from use in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Disciplinary standards for rostered ministers are outlined in "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline." The council encourages people to read the document, which states:

    "As an expression of its life in the gospel of Jesus Christ, this church embraces disciplinary processes of counseling, admonition and correction, with the objective of forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Simultaneously, out of deep concern for effective extension of the gospel, this church remains alert to the high calling of discipleship in Jesus Christ."

    Vision and Expectations has been misused as a juridical document and continues to be a source of great pain for many. There is strong desire to focus on faithfulness to Christ and the gospel grounded in the fullness of our understanding of God, Scriptures and our confessions through a church that is more welcoming, diverse, inclusive and active in the world, and that continues to examine healthy sexuality from a Christian perspective.

    "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline" should be distinguished and recognized by the whole church as the document by which leaders are held accountable, as established by section 20.21 in the ELCA constitution.

    Candidates for rostered ministry are held to the standards set forth in "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline." All relevant documents and manuals, including candidacy and mobility documents, will be updated by June 1, 2020, to reflect the role of "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline" in defining the grounds for discipline.

    - - -
    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
    Public Relations Manager
    773-380-2877
    Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org


  • ELCA presiding bishop addresses concerns about COVID-19

    ​In 1527 the plague returned to Wittenberg, Germany. Two hundred years earlier the plague had swept across Europe killing up to 40% of the population. Understandably, people were anxious and wondered what a safe and faithful response might be. In answer to this, Martin Luther wrote "Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague." In it, he emphasized the duty to care for the neighbor, the responsibility of government to protect and provide services to its citizens, a caution about recklessness, and the importance of science, medicine and common sense.

    To provide care for the neighbor, Luther recommended that pastors, those in public office, doctors and public servants should remain in the city. Luther himself remained in Wittenberg to care for his people. He recommended that public hospitals be built to accommodate those with the plague. He condemned those who took unnecessary risks that put themselves and others in danger of contagion. Luther also encouraged the use of reason and medicine, writing, "God has created medicines and has provided us with intelligence to guard and take care of the body. … Use medicine; take potions which can help you; fumigate house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence" ("Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague," 1527).

    We are living in the time of the coronavirus. We are also living in the time of social media and constant, relentless news coverage. Many of our people have the same concerns as those in Luther's day. Many of our people are anxious. Luther's counsel, based on Scripture, is still sound. Respect the disease. Do not take unnecessary risks. Provide for the spiritual and physical needs of the neighbor. Make use of medical aid. Care for one another, especially the most vulnerable.

    The churchwide organization recommends the following for churchwide staff: Wash your hands, stay home when you are sick, wear a mask if you have symptoms, consult your medical provider. Bishops and pastors will provide guidelines for worship and church gatherings.

    Luther also reminded his people and us that we should trust God's faithfulness and promises, particularly the promise eternal life. Paul writes: "If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's" (Romans 14:8). 


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

     
    - - -
    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
    Public Relations Manager
    773-380-2877
    Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org

     
     


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03/29/2020     10:30 AM

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