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

ELCA News
  • 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly summary of actions

    ​CHICAGO — Gathering under the theme "We are church," voting members of the 2019 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) made a number of key decisions to further the mission and ministry of this church. The assembly, the chief legislative authority of the church, met Aug. 5-10 at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee.

    More than 900 voting members:

    • Reelected on the first ballot the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton to a six-year term as ELCA presiding bishop.

       
    • Elected Deacon Sue Rothmeyer to a six-year term as ELCA secretary. Rothmeyer, currently serving as executive for administration with the Office of the Secretary, was installed during the assembly's closing worship on Aug. 10 and will begin her term Nov. 1.

       
    • Approved the social statement "Faith, Sexism and Justice: A Call to Action" and its implementing resolutions. The social statement, in part, names patriarchy and sexism as sins and calls the church to action on a range of issues, including gender-based violence, workplace discrimination and economic inequality.

       
    • Adopted "A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment," which will serve as church policy for inter-religious relations. The policy statement was adopted with the witness of 39 ecumenical and inter-religious guests in attendance.

       
    • Approved the triennium budget for 2020-2022, which includes a current fund spending authorization of $68,378,325 for 2020, a current fund income proposal of $68,442,034 for 2021 and $68,507,018 for 2022; and an ELCA World Hunger spending authorization of $21.5 million 2020, and an income proposal of $21.5 million for 2021 and for 2022.

    • Adopted the "Strategy Toward Authentic Diversity in the ELCA," which consists of a report and recommendations on how the ELCA exhibits authentic diversity and formulates goals for racial diversity and inclusion.

       
    • Witnessed the presentation of the "Declaration of the ELCA to People of African Descent," which was accepted by the Rev. Lamont A. Wells, president of the African Descent Lutheran Association (ADLA), and members of ADLA.

       
    • Adopted 26 memorials en bloc, ranging in topics from gun violence to engagement in the Holy Land and gender identity to seminary tuition.

       
    • Adopted a memorial that affirms the ELCA's long-standing commitment to migrants and refugees and declares the ELCA a sanctuary church body.

       
    • Adopted a memorial that calls for the development of a social statement and social message on the relationship of church and state.

       
    • Adopted a memorial to encourage all synods and congregations to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ELCA's ordination of women in 2020, the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women of color in the Lutheran tradition and the 10th anniversary of the ELCA's decision to remove barriers to ordination for people in same-gender relationships.

       
    • Adopted a memorial to support the vision and goals of the Poor People's Campaign that align with the ELCA's social teachings.

       
    • Adopted a series of amendments to the "Constitutions, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America," including one that makes ordination the entrance rite for ministers of Word and Service, and an amendment to no longer count deacons as laypeople for representational principles.

       
    • Adopted a resolution that committed the ELCA to support the World Council of Church's "Thursdays in Black" campaign toward a world without rape and violence.

       
    • Adopted a resolution to commemorate June 17 as a day of repentance in the ELCA for the martyrdom of the Emanuel 9—the nine people who were shot and killed June 17, 2015, during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

       
    • Adopted a resolution to condemn white supremacy, calling all ELCA congregations to engage in a "study of the structures and rhetoric that empower and fuel racism and white supremacy and to take to heart the teaching of Scriptures, so we may all be better equipped to speak boldly about the equal dignity of all persons in the eyes of God."

       
    • Celebrated the end of Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA, which concluded June 30 with nearly $250 million raised in cash, multiyear commitments and planned gift commitments. At the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, voting members approved the $198 million campaign to help sustain and grow ministries of the church.

       
    • Elected members to serve on the ELCA Church Council, churchwide committees and churchwide boards, including Portico Benefit Services, the Mission Investment Fund and 1517 Media.

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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 3.5 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




  • 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly declares the ELCA a sanctuary church

    ​CHICAGO — The 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted Aug. 7 to approve a memorial that affirms the denomination's long-standing commitment to migrants and refugees and declares the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) a sanctuary church body. The ELCA is the first North American denomination to declare itself a sanctuary church body.  

    As a sanctuary church, the ELCA publicly declares that walking alongside immigrants and refugees is a matter of faith. This declaration does not call for any person, congregation or synod to engage in illegal activity.

    The ELCA has developed talking points to address what it means for this church to become a sanctuary denomination. In defining what this means for its congregations, the ELCA states that a sanctuary church will look different in the different contexts across the ELCA. The church cannot mandate or direct ELCA congregations and ministries to respond in certain ways.

    The 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly passed the strategy to Accompany Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities (AMMPARO). Through the strategy, the ELCA invites its churches to become "welcoming congregations," which means to commit to spiritually and physically accompanying migrants in their communities, pray for migrant children and families, and advocate for a just and humane immigration system. More than 100 congregations and five synods across the ELCA identify as sanctuary.  

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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 3.5 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 Churchwide Assembly receives presiding bishop report and takes key actions

    ​MILWAUKEE  — The 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly began its fourth day on Aug. 8 with a greeting from Dr. Agnes Abuom, the first woman and first African to serve as moderator of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee. Speaking about the WCC campaign "Thursdays in Black: Toward a World Without Rape and Violence," she told the assembly, "The time has come, and now is, for us as the church to reclaim our prophetic role in speaking truth to power on behalf of the victimized and vulnerable."

    Following her address, the assembly approved a resolution to endorse the WCC Thursdays in Black campaign. To commemorate the vote, a photo was taken of the assembly, most of whom were dressed in black to observe the campaign. 

    Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton then gave her report to the assembly, which focused on the five goals of Future Directions 2025,: A thriving church; an equipping church; a welcoming church; a visible church; and a well-governed, connected and sustainable church.

    Eaton told the assembly, "The church's unique mission is to preach the gospel purely and to administer the sacraments rightly. No other institution has been called by God to this ministry. The church is God's creation. The church is not what we do, it is not the organization we have created and maintain. The church is what God has made us – Christ's body in the world."

    Recalling what the ELCA constitution says about how this church participates in God's mission in the world, Eaton said, "This church shall respond to God's love 'to meet human needs, caring for the sick and the aged, advocating dignity and justice for all people, working for peace and reconciliation among the nations, and standing with the poor and powerless and committing itself to their needs.' Luther put it this way, 'The church that preaches the gospel in all its fullness, except as it applies to the great social ills of the day, is failing to preach the gospel.'"

    Eaton also lifted up examples of "what God is up to in the world and in this church," including, The Neighborhood Church in Bentonville, Ark., a growing mission congregation; the Youth Leadership Summit that brings together youth leaders from each synod to share God's love and grace and learn about the needs of the world around them; the Welcome Church in Philadelphia, a worshiping community that welcomes all to join, especially those who are experiencing homelessness; the ELCA's AMMPARO initiative, where the church helps returning migrants discover meaningful work and hope in their communities; and the "Hope in the Heartland" event in South Dakota that connected more than 100 congregations of 100 members or fewer for ongoing collaboration to share ways to help build a sustainable and connected church.

    The assembly also took action on the policy statement "A Declaration of Inter-religious Commitment," which underscores the ELCA's long-standing commitment to inter-religious relations and provides a framework for common application and theological reflection across the varied contexts of this church.

    In its greetings from ecumenical and inter-religious guests, the assembly heard from Bishop W. Darin Moore, presiding prelate of the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and senior vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

    "We heard with hope your declaration to people of African descent, including the repudiation of complicity when the church has been silent in the face of racial injustice," Moore said. "It is noteworthy that a church whose membership is 94% white, and a church whose membership is 95% black are in continuing conversation one with the other, building trust and deepening our relationships."

    Pesner said, "I am so honored to stand with you and this Churchwide Assembly as you ratify your commitment to public policy, to overcoming white supremacy, to interfaith relationships even deeper. And we need you now, oh Lutheran family, more than ever. We can only beat back racism with justice. And we can only do it when we come together."

    In key action, the assembly voted to adopt "A Declaration of Inter-religious Commitment." Following the vote, Bishop Patricia Lull, chair of the task force that developed the statement, said, "Our church has just declared that, because we are Lutheran, we are called to the work of inter-religious relations. As we are called, so also are we sent."

    In other action, the assembly:

    Approved the triennium budget proposal. It includes a current fund spending authorization of $68,378,325 for 2020, a current fund income proposal of $68,442,034 for 2021 and $68,507,018 for 2022; and an ELCA World Hunger spending authorization of $21.5 million 2020, and an income proposal of $21.5 million for 2021 and for 2022.

    • Voted to commemorate June 17 as a day of repentance in the ELCA for the martyrdom of the Emanuel 9—the nine people who were shot and killed June 17, 2015, during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

    • Adopted a resolution to condemn white supremacy, calling all ELCA congregations to engage in "study of the structures and rhetoric that empower and fuel racism and white supremacy and to take to heart the teaching of Scriptures, so we may all be better equipped to speak boldly about the equal dignity of all persons in the eyes of God."

    • Cast a second ballot for secretary. There was no election.

     Live video of the plenary sessions is accessible at elca.org/cwa.

     
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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 3.5 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 Churchwide Assembly elects new secretary

    ​MILWAUKEE  – Sue Rothmeyer, a deacon who serves as executive for administration with the Office of the Secretary, was elected secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. She is a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Chicago, and lives in Oak Park, Ill.

    Rothmeyer was elected on the fifth ballot with 509 votes to 402 votes for the Rev. LaMont Wells of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Roosevelt, N.Y.

    "Thanks to this assembly for entrusting me with this new sense of vocation, and I will covet your prayers and your support, and the ways in which we can work together in the days ahead in this role," Rothmeyer said to the assembly following her election. 

    The Rev. Wm "Chris" Boerger, was elected secretary in 2013 and will retire at the end of his current term.

    The assembly – the highest legislative authority of the ELCA – is meeting Aug. 5-10 at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee. Gathering under the theme "We are church," the assembly participates in worship, Bible study and plenary discussions to decide how to go about God's work as a church.

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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 3.5 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 Churchwide Assembly declares ELCA sanctuary church

    ​MILWAUKEE — In a key action this afternoon, the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted to approve a memorial that declares the ELCA a sanctuary church. The ELCA is the first North American denomination to declare itself a sanctuary church body. As a sanctuary church the ELCA is committed to serving and supporting migrant children and families in communities across the country.

    Earlier in the day, the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the ELCA, joined more than 700 assembly members and others in a march and prayer vigil to the Milwaukee Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office. The march addressed concerns about the human rights of migrant children and families entering the U.S. along the southern border. Through the ELCA's initiative, Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities (AMMPARO), this church is committed to work toward just and humane policies affecting migrants in and outside the U.S.

    During morning plenary, the Rev. Chris Boerger, secretary of the ELCA, gave his report to the assembly. Boerger, who is retiring this fall, spent part of his report explaining the role of the secretary and the various responsibilities that come with the office.

    "I believe that good structure is necessary for our life together and for the accomplishment of the work that God has given us to do," Boerger said. "I have said often that the primary focus of the church should be the mission that God has given us. The constitutions and policies of the church are to serve that mission. The mission should not be hindered by the constitution or policies of the church."

    Boerger also gave updates on actions that were taken during the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, including that the denomination has made "little progress" in moving toward the commitment of authentic diversity. He reported that at the end of 2015, the ELCA was 92% white and at the end of 2018, it was 94% white.

    "Until it really is a commitment for the congregations of this church, the prospects of this change are very dim," he said. "As a white church we say the right words. We, the majority population of this church, need to do more than talk."

    Boerger's report also included statistics on baptized membership, which continues to decline. There was a 2.8% decrease from 2017, which he said is consistent with the trend the church has seen since its formation.

    "We still have 3.4 million members," he said. "We are not an insignificant church."

    Boerger closed his report by thanking ELCA members for entrusting him with the role of secretary, adding that he thanks God for this church and the people of this church.

    "We are the clay jars that God has chosen to use to proclaim the gospel to this time and in our individual contexts," he said. "Thank you for this opportunity to serve our God, our world and our church. We are church. Thanks be to God."

    Following his report, Boerger was presented with the Servus Dei award, which honors and expresses appreciation for ELCA officers as they complete their terms.

    In his report, Bill Horne, ELCA vice president, spoke of unity in Christ as he reflected on this church's connection "as Christians, Lutherans, members of the ELCA and our relationship with our neighbors."

    Horne stressed the importance of this theme of oneness as the assembly considers the proposals and recommendations before them this week.

    "I can be of one mind with you and still disagree with you on an issue. When we focus on the word, the meaning of our baptism and the eucharist, our life as Christians and our service to our neighbor, being of one mind helps us to navigate through the rough spots in living with each other," Horne said. "The distinctions that I may make in our relationship and interactions won't ever overshadow the oneness we share in Christ Jesus."

    The assembly also received greetings from the Rev. Susan C. Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Rev. Panti Filibus Musa, archbishop of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria and president of the Lutheran World Federation. 

    Dr. Philip Johnson, president of Finlandia University, Hancock, Mich., and president of the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities, also greeted the assembly on behalf of the network.

    A first ballot was taken for election of ELCA secretary. A total of 866 votes were cast and 646 votes were required for election. There was no election.

    Live video of the plenary sessions is accessible at elca.org/cwa.

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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 3.5 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


  • Key moments for day two of 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly

    ​MILWAUKEE — On day two of their gathering, the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly took key actions and received reports that set the stage for how the denomination wants to move into the future.

    The assembly re-elected the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton as presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Aug. 6. On the first ballot, 897 votes were cast and 670 votes were needed for election. Eaton received 725 votes, which is 81.19% of the vote. Eaton is the first ELCA presiding bishop to win re-election on the first ballot. She was elected to a first term as presiding bishop at the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh.

    The assembly approved 26 en bloc memorials on topics including gun violence, engagement in the Holy Land and income inequality.

    A Declaration to People of African Descent was presented to representatives of the African Descent Lutheran Association. The declaration was offered by members of the working group established by the ELCA Church Council to develop a document that expresses a confession of this church's bondage to the sins of slavery, racism, discrimination, white supremacy and quietism, and begins the work of repentance, which this church confesses to be "the chief topic of Christian teaching."

    "This apology is a recommitment to the process of right and equitable relations within this church, and the flourishing of Christ's church universal," Eaton said after the declaration was read. "This recommitment means working toward a deeper understanding of slavery and its legacy, of institutional and structural racism, of white privilege, and of attitudes and foundations of white supremacy. It means praying for the renewal of this church as disciples of the living Christ."

    In reply, the Rev. Lamont Wells, president of the African Descent Lutheran Association, said, "We must abandon our lust for oppressive power, wealth and even our own comfort for the sake of fulfilling God's fulfillment to love others. Throughout history, people have been hurt by this very particular sin. Therefore, we the people of African descent of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America can receive this apology as a divine mark of repentance that serves as a catalyst for change."

    Eaton said the ELCA will name an annual Day of Repentance for congregations, synods and the churchwide organization.

    The Rev. Wyvetta Bullock introduced the proposed triennium budget recommended by the ELCA Church Council. The proposed budget is for a current fund spending authorization of $68,378,325 for 2020; a current fund income of $68,442,034 for 2021 and $68,507,018 for 2022; and an ELCA World Hunger income of $21,500,000 for fiscal years 2020-2022.

    "The budget proposal before you for the next triennium is about the mission to which we believe God is calling this church," Bullock said. "Each dollar represents the hope to touch a life and be part of God's transforming work in the church and in the world."

    To underscore the impact of the church's mission in the world, Bullock introduced three people to the assembly: the Rev. Adama Isa, a pastor of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria who is pursuing a doctorate at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (she will be the first woman in her denomination to achieve a doctorate in theology); Laura Hermanns, a former participant in the ELCA's Young Adult in Global Mission program; Deacon Ryan Hostler, minister of word and service for music and worship at Our Savior Lutheran Church, Vero Beach, Fla.

    In further business, the assembly received an introduction to the recommended social statement "Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Lutheran Call to Action" and the related implementing resolutions. The introduction was presented by the Rev. Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld and Dr. Brad Wendel, co-chairs of the former ELCA Task Force on Women and Justice: One in Christ, established to help develop the social statement. The proposed social statement covers a range of issues on which the ELCA is called to action, including gender-based violence, workplace discrimination and economic inequality.

    The assembly also received an introduction to the proposed "A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment: A policy statement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America" by the Rev. Patricia Lull, chair of the Interreligious Task Force. The proposed statement underscores the ELCA's long-standing commitment to inter-religious relations and provides a framework for common application and theological reflection across the varied contexts of this church.

    A report from the ELCA Conference of Bishops was delivered by the Rev. William O. Gafkjen, bishop of the ELCA Indiana-Kentucky Synod and chair of the conference.

    The Rev. Jasmine Tesdahl, chaplain and U.S. Air Force Reserve captain brought greetings on behalf of the ELCA federal chaplains.

    Greetings were also received from the Rev. Silvía Genz, pastor president of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil.

    Live video of the plenary sessions will be accessible at elca.org/cwa.


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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 3.5 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


Sunday
Worship 9:30 AM

Coffee after Church

08/25/2019     10:30 AM

Worship Service

08/25/2019     9:30 AM

Worship Service

09/01/2019     9:30 AM