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Recent News Stories

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

ELCA News
  • ELCA receives grant through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative

    ​CHICAGO – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has received a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the "Congregations Lead: Innovation Denomination" initiative.

    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.

    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, and draw upon their theological traditions as they adapt ministries to meet changing needs.

    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.

    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 "innovation denomination" 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.

    "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," said the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop. "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.'"

    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.

    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.

    "In the midst of a rapidly changing world, Christian congregations are grappling with how they can best carry forward their ministries," said Christopher Coble, Lilly Endowment's vice president for religion. "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."  

    Lilly Endowment launched the Thriving Congregations Initiative in 2019 as part of its commitment to support efforts that enhance the vitality of Christian congregations.

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    About Lilly Endowment Inc.

    Lilly Endowment Inc. 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 & 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.


    About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
    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 "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 Indigenous Peoples Day statement

    In the name of the God who creates every human being out of love, this church teaches human dignity is God's gift to every person and that the commitment to universal rights protects that dignity.

    —ELCA social message "Human Rights," 2017 (p. 2)

    We cannot advance justice today by forgetting injustice yesterday.

    —Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin, Osage Nation

    While so many in our country endure a time of suffering and despair, God is present with us as we seek to see more clearly, heal from unrest and renew ourselves and our relationships. The way we talk about people matters. Names matter. Renaming a day matters. Recognizing the original people who have been here for time immemorial matters. Indigenous Peoples Day matters. We join states, cities and towns across the country to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Columbus Day and honor the people whose lands we walk, whose Indigenous voices have always been spoken here and who share their gifts and contributions throughout our society.

    The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's churchwide office sits in an Indigenous place. What is now known as Chicago remains the home of many Native nations. Historically and now, the Ojibwe, Odawa, Potawatomi, Miami, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sac, Fox, Kickapoo, and Illinois people have congregated and lived at these crossroads along the banks of what is now known as Lake Michigan. The places where every synod has its offices, where every congregation built its place of worship, and where every Lutheran college and seminary was established belonged to a people. Indigenous Peoples Day is a time to acknowledge and recognize them.

    Today there are nearly 5,000 American Indian and Alaska Native members of the ELCA and 30 ELCA congregations in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Alaska Native congregations occupy some of the oldest Lutheran places of worship. These Lutheran and Native places lie on the open tundra near the icy waters of the Bering Sea, on the rolling prairies of the Great Plains and in leafy woodlands. These places are their homelands.

    The historical and generational trauma experienced by tribal nations does not have its source in nostalgia, or a sense of loss of private property: its source is in the loss of their place of deeply rooted identity in a specific place. This is a place which was given to them by the Creator thousands of years ago, a particular place where the Creator covenanted with their ancestors to live in this specific place; relation to the land cannot be moved to a different place, since the knowledge is meant for the specific relations which abound in that specific place.

    —Rev. Dr. Gordon Straw, Brothertown Indian Nation

    In 2016, the ELCA took steps to repudiate one of the most fundamental bases for colonialism, the "Doctrine of Discovery," which pledges, in part,

    … to repudiate explicitly and clearly the European-derived doctrine of discovery as an example of the "improper mixing of the power of the church and the power of the sword" (Augsburg Confession, Article XXVIII, Latin text), and to acknowledge and repent from this church's complicity in the evils of colonialism in the Americas, which continue to harm tribal governments and individual tribal members.

    —ELCA Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery

    This alone will not suffice. As a church, we must sustain our efforts to educate ourselves and the wider community on the consequences of the Doctrine of Discovery* on Native peoples.

     We must continue to do this, repudiating racism, white supremacy, and logos, mascots and stereotypes that perpetuate prejudice against Native Americans. We must learn and tell the stories. We must educate ourselves and everyone within the sound of our voices about all the corners of our country's dark and shameful past. We must build and strengthen relationships anew. Today and every day we commit to do our part to understand, respect and celebrate American Indian and Alaska Native people, their congregations and communities, and the church.

    As we celebrate our rich history as Americans, we should reflect on the reality that the arrival of Europeans to these shores is seen differently by those who have experienced great pain and suffered many broken promises. Naming and honoring Indigenous Peoples Day moves us all toward a better place.

     In peace,

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


    *The Doctrine of Discovery is a papal bull from 1493 validating the seizure of lands from Indigenous people and nations based on the false teaching that Indigenous people are not human nor Christian, and therefore do not have sovereignty or government. The Doctrine of Discovery undergirds the entire experiment of the United States and continues to inform and justify supremacist laws, policies and practices. Christ's church, including the ELCA, continues to be complicit in its application today.

     - - -

    About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
    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 "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 holds virtual meeting

    ​CHICAGO — The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) gathered virtually Oct. 1-2. This is the first time the conference has held a meeting online. The conference, an advisory body of the ELCA, comprises 65 synod bishops, the presiding bishop and the secretary.

    "Our Conference of Bishops meetings are important times for synod bishops to connect with each other, our churchwide staff, seminary leaders and others ― not just for the work we do but for building relationships across this church," said the Rev. Tracie Bartholomew, bishop of the ELCA New Jersey Synod and chair of the conference. "This online meeting format allowed us to gather, grounded in Scripture, to attend to several important topics, and even provided some time for relationship-building. But I am eager for the day when we can gather in person."

    In her report to the conference, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton spoke of learnings across the ELCA during the COVID-19 pandemic. "We found out that our people are resilient and creative … that our buildings might have been closed but our ministries never were closed."

    Eaton emphasized the generosity witnessed throughout the church, as evidenced by the COVID-19 appeal, which raised $1.6 million to support ELCA ministries best positioned to help those in need during the pandemic. In addition, 200 congregations raised more than $313,000, including $100,000 granted through ELCA World Hunger Daily Bread Matching Grants.

    The presiding bishop also updated the conference on the development of the Future Church design. Eaton said the new structure is intended to activate a shared purpose across the ecology of the ELCA to "invite more people into the way of Jesus and discover community, justice and love. St. Paul said, 'How will they know if they have not heard? How will they hear if someone has not been sent?' This is a commission, a mission that Jesus has given to us." The ELCA Church Council will vote on the Future Church design at its November 2020 meeting.

    Eaton also spoke of the call, following the murder of George Floyd in May, for a reckoning in the long history of racism in this church and this country.

    "We have taken a look at the work we have already done in this church," said Eaton. "We have developed a framework for us to build on as we do this work across the church. But now it's really time for us to engage in this hard, hard work. This work has to be sustainable. How do we work together? How do we do this in a way that is thoughtful and sustainable and makes an actual difference?"

    To date this work has included "Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery," "Strategy Toward Authentic Diversity," "Condemnation of White Supremacy and Racist Rhetoric" and "Declaration of the ELCA to People of African Descent," which calls for the study of reparations. In 2019, the ELCA Church Council passed a resolution that calls on the ELCA to engage in anti-racism and racial justice work and to strive for economic justice, including study of reparations.

    Judith Roberts, director for ELCA Racial Justice Ministries, told the conference there is a conversation taking place among the African-descent community that is focused on engagement and education about reparations. 

    "There is the need for common language and understanding about reparations, and this needs to happen in partnership with the African-descent communities," Roberts said. "Those most impacted need to speak to the historical racial injustices as opposed to listening to the individuals that propose actions that throw money at inequities but don't address the historical and institutional inequities that are much more systemic."

    In key business, the conference approved the implementation of a revised first-call process for rostered ministry. The new plan was created to be more flexible and to respond better to the changing dynamics of the church.

    "The assignment process that we have had for the first 30 years of the ELCA served us well for a long time, but in recent years it's become evident that we needed an upgrade," said the Rev. James Hazelwood, bishop of the ELCA New England Synod and chair of the task force that developed the revision.

    One benefit of the new plan is being able to create a more streamlined, localized process that encourages synods to take responsibility for their own candidates.

    "This first-call process attempts to reach a balance between three factors: the missional needs of the whole church, the hopes of candidates and the shifting landscape of a changing church and society," said Hazelwood. "We are still hoping candidates will view their call as a call to the whole church and be willing to serve where the Spirit directs them."

    The task force will regularly evaluate the new process. Information about the new first-call process is available here. In addition, a series of informational video conversations with candidates, bishops and other staff will soon be made available.

    In other business, the conference:

    • Engaged in a conversation, led by the Committee on Appeals, about drafted updates to the church's Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline. The document describes the grounds by 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.
    • Voted to recommend to the ELCA Church Council an edit clarifying language in the candidacy manual regarding the application of Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline to those in candidacy.
    • Elected the Rev. Deborah Hutterer, bishop of the ELCA Grand Canyon Synod, to the executive committee of the Conference of Bishops.
    • Received an update on the synod diversity goals, a multicultural mission strategy to help assess each synod's progress toward increasing ethnic and racial diversity in its congregations.
    • Received a report on the Strategy for Authentic Ethnic and Racial Diversity and Equitable Inclusivity, which included next steps for the Authentic Diversity advisory team.
    • Received an update from the Rev. Ann Svennungsen, bishop of the ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod, on the racial justice work being carried out by the Minneapolis Area Synod, the Saint Paul Area Synod and ecumenical partners in the aftermath of George Floyd's death.
    • Received written reports from the secretary and treasurer and updates from the conference's various committees.

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


  • 2020 Hein-Fry Book of Faith Challenge

    ​CHICAGO — In an increasing polarized world, biblical citations do not always serve their primary intent of reflecting God's love. Under the theme "The Bible – Word, Not Weapon," the 2020 Hein-Fry Book of Faith Challenge will address how Bible verses taken out of context can become weapons that discredit others or justify cruel treatment of those portrayed as different.

    Presented by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the annual Hein-Fry Book of Faith Challenge seeks to enliven the biblical engagement of the whole church by encouraging the development of faithful, innovative and effective ways to teach and learn Scripture. The event is sponsored by the seven ELCA seminaries, the Hein-Fry planning team and the ELCA Book of Faith Initiative. 

    Every year, one student from each seminary is invited to develop and present a class or series for people both familiar and unfamiliar with biblical texts. In follow-up, the students are invited to report their findings.

    This year the challenge will comprise four online events:

    • Jennifer Garcia from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, Calif., will present "Sharing Our Faith in a Time of Social Distancing" on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 2 p.m. Pacific time.
    • Taylor Berdahl from United Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg, Pa., will present "Biblical Responses to COVID-19: Lament, Bodies, Breath" on Monday, Oct. 26, at 5:30 p.m. Eastern time.
    • Karl Anliker from Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago will present "Look for the Women: A Virtual Bible Study in Search of Hope" on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at 2:30 p.m. Central time.
    • Christopher Shealy from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary of Lenoir-Rhyne University, Columbia, S.C., will present "How Scripture Is Weaponized, and What We Can Do About It" on Friday, Oct. 30, 2 p.m. Eastern time.

    The Rev. Susan R. Briehl will serve as online host.

    The public is invited to attend these free online events, but registration is required for each of them. Registration information is available here.

    The Hein-Fry Book of Faith Challenge is an endowed theological lecture series established after the American Lutheran Church (ALC) and the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) merged into the ELCA in 1988. The series combines the ALC's Dr. Carl Christian Hein Memorial Seminary Lectures and the LCA's Franklin Clark Fry Theological Lectures.
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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 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 "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
     


  • A Pastoral Message for the People of Armenia and Artsakh

    ​Dear church,

    One of our ecumenical partners, the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, has requested our prayers and support amid the increased hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The recent surprise attack on the people of Armenia and Artsakh has resulted in violence and death, buttressed by cyberattacks and disinformation. The nation of Armenia has been launched into a state of war.  

    We join with the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches in voicing our sadness and solidarity with the people of Armenia and Artsakh, and in seeking to uphold the truth about the conflict. We call upon our elected leaders to utilize diplomatic channels to intervene in order to prevent further violence and death. We invite our congregations and leaders to reach out to their Armenian neighbors in expressions of Christly love and care.

    In a letter I received, His Grace Bishop Daniel Findikyan, primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church, asks us to "pray alongside the Armenian Church faithful, as we implore our Lord Jesus to place his protection over the people of Armenia and Artsakh." Let us pray:  

    O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope. Where anxiety is infectious and widening, grant peace and reassurance. Where impossibilities close every door and window, grant imagination and resistance. Where distrust twists our thinking, grant healing and illumination. Where spirits are daunted and weakened, grant soaring wings and strengthened dreams. All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen. ("Prayer in Time of Conflict, Crisis, Disaster," Evangelical Lutheran Worship)

     
    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 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
     


  • A Prayer for the President and First Lady

    ​Today, we ask our Evangelical Lutheran Church in America family and friends to join together in prayer for the president, first lady and all who are affected by COVID-19 in the White House, as well as all the people and their families in our nation and around the world who are continuing to suffer or who have died from the effects of COVID-19. In a week when the world grieves more than 1 million lives lost during this pandemic, our prayers are unceasing.   

    Almighty and merciful God, you are the only source of health and healing; you alone can bring calmness and peace. Grant to us, your children, an awareness of your presence and a strong confidence in you. In our pain, our weariness, and our anxiety, surround us with your care, protect us by your loving might, and permit us once more to enjoy health and strength and peace; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, page 85). 

     
    - - -
    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


Sunday
Sunday School 9:15 AM
Worship 10:30 AM

Worship

10/25/2020     10:30 AM

Sunday School

10/25/2020     9:15 AM

Worship

11/01/2020     10:30 AM

Sunday School

11/01/2020     9:15 AM

Worship

11/08/2020     10:30 AM