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Recent News Stories

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

ELCA News
  • ELCA Church Council welcomes 23 new members

    ​CHICAGO — The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) met at the Lutheran Center in Chicago, Nov. 7-10. Twenty-three new members, elected by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly, were welcomed. The council serves as the ELCA's board of directors and interim legislative authority between meetings of the Churchwide Assembly.

    The council took the following key actions:

    • Authorized use of ministry rites for pastors and deacons in response to constitutional changes by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly that identified ordination as the entrance rite for ministers of Word and Service. The ministry rites for ordination to the ministry of Word and Service, ordination to the ministry of Word and Sacrament, installation of a deacon and installation of a pastor will be effective Jan. 1, 2020.
    • Created an advisory team to receive updates, track progress and provide periodic reports on the "Strategy Toward Authentic Diversity in the ELCA," adopted by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly.
    • Adopted a continuing resolution authorizing the creation of a resource development committee of the council to continue developing strategies related to funding initiatives and future churchwide appeals.
    • Adopted the "Memorandum of Mutual Recognition of Relations of Full Communion" among The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the ELCA as a way to strengthen ties among the two U.S. and two Canadian churches.
    • Authorized development of a social message on the vocation of citizenship, civic engagement, and church and state, as requested by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly.
    • Received the final report of its Theological Education Advisory Committee, approved the committee's recommended transition plan and thanked the committee members for their service.
    • Approved a 2020 spending authorization of $67,666,652 for the churchwide organization and $21,596,595 for ELCA World Hunger.
    • Received an update on development of the resource "Trustworthy Servants of the People of God," the replacement for "Vision and Expectations," which articulates the church's hopes and expectations for its rostered ministers.
    • Adopted the Reference and Counsel Committee recommendations regarding unfinished business from the 2019 Churchwide Assembly.
    • Referred to the Domestic Mission unit the Conference of Bishops recommendation that the unit give top priority to this church's response to the global crisis of climate change.
    • Thanked the Rev. Wyvetta Bullock for her faithful service as executive for administration and her many years of service to this church. Bullock will retire Jan. 30, 2020.

     
    In a special order of the day, the council received a greeting from Ms. Rose Simmons, whose father, the Rev. Daniel Lee Simmons Sr., was one of the nine congregants martyred in June 2015 at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

    The council also received reports from the church's presiding bishop, treasurer, secretary and vice president, from the ELCA Conference of Bishops, and from the ELCA's separately incorporated ministries. They also received greetings from ecumenical partners.

    - - -

    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
     


  • Kathy Freeman Summers appointed president and CEO, ELCA Foundation, and executive director, Mission Advancement

    ​CHICAGO — Kathy Freeman Summers was appointed to a four-year term as president and CEO of the ELCA Foundation and executive director of the Mission Advancement unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Her term began Oct. 1.

    Summers brings to the ELCA more than 30 years of executive leadership in both nonprofit and for-profit organizations.

    In her role as president and CEO of the ELCA Foundation, Summers will work closely with the board of trustees to oversee endowments and investments in the ELCA Foundation's proprietary Fund A, as well as the development of planned gifts. As executive director for Mission Advancement, she will oversee advancement services, mission funding and strategic communications for the ELCA.

    Since 2016, Summers had served as executive director of the City Colleges of Chicago Foundation. City Colleges of Chicago is the largest community-college system in Illinois and one of the largest in the nation, serving more than 80,000 students annually at seven colleges and five satellite sites.

    Summers' responsibilities at City Colleges of Chicago included management of foundation assets, planning and strategy for the board of trustees, donor engagement, regulatory compliance and risk management.

    She received a Bachelor of Science in education from Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Mo., and an MBA in marketing and finance from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Summers is a member of Salem Lutheran Church in Chicago.

     

    - - -
    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



  • Pastoral message addresses Hong Kong protests

    ​October 2019

    Pastoral Message to ELCA members:

    Accompanying the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong,

    Hong Kong Lutheran Federation,

    Hong Kong Christian Council

    and all those living in Hong Kong

     

    We, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, have witnessed demonstrations in Hong Kong protesting several decisions by local authorities and expressing ongoing concerns about the future of the territory. These decisions have included the introduction of a controversial extradition bill, which has since been withdrawn, and several new regulations, issued in response to the demonstrations, that restrict civil liberties. Fears remain about what more these restrictions might mean for rights, liberties and governance. The demonstrations initially were very peaceful, but more recently engagement with local police has sometimes resulted in violent confrontations.   

    Members of the Christian community in Hong Kong hold varying views on the situation; some support the demonstrators while others oppose their activities.

    I have sent a message to the churches and other people there in recent days.

    Last month, the 72 Protestant and Catholic churches all over Hong Kong came together for an event, “Pray for reconciliation, healing, and a way out for Hong Kong.” As the people of Hong Kong discern their future, I commend their Prayer of Commitment to members of our church. We pledge our solidarity with them in this time of turmoil and join in prayer for a peaceful resolution of this crisis.

    Prayer of Commitment

    Introduction: In Hong Kong, where social turmoil has brought rapid changes, we rely on the unchanging Triune God to make a commitment together:

    Leader: We are baptized into Christ by faith and united in Him regardless of race, gender or status (Gal. 3:28).

    Response: We are determined to be humble, gentle, patient, and tolerant, to be peaceful, to maintain the unity of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:2). We refuse to let political disputes or any differences to divide the body of Christ.

    Leader: Over the past three months, many people in body and spirit, as well as the entire society, have been deeply traumatized. For this, we must confess our sins and pray for one another (James 5:16).

    Response: We are determined to be diligent to follow Jesus Christ to heal the wounded physically and spiritually, and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to resist the power of evil (Eph. 6:12).

    Leader: Everyone is created in the image of God. Each person’s dignity must be respected.

    Response: We are determined not to regard people as inhuman. We reject all words and deeds that degrade human dignity. We win through the Lord without hatred. We overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17).

    Leader: The Lord commands us to do good, seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphans, and plead for the widow (Isaiah 1:17).

    Response: We strive to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and love others as ourselves. We are determined to help those who are oppressed, regardless of political views; to defend the rights and interests of the minority groups, no matter the different stances; to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.

    Leader: Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). The Lord hates lies and loves honesty (Proverbs 12:22; Psalm 5:6).

    Response: We strive to witness to and practice the truth, to seek and defend the truth. We are determined never to confuse right and wrong, but to be blameless and to do no harm.

    Leader: In the face of the current political stalemate in Hong Kong, violence has been spreading and people are confused and fearful about their future. But we still believe that the Lord is in charge of history, and we are convinced that the Kingdom of Heaven will be fully realized.

    Response: We are determined, no matter what the situation, to hold fast to our conviction that love and faithfulness will prevail overall. We will not be moved because we know that no matter what happens, nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

    Both: Amen

    God’s peace,
    Elizabeth A. Eaton
    Presiding Bishop, ELCA


    - - -

    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 Conference of Bishops welcomes greater diversity

    ​CHICAGO — The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) met here Sept. 26–Sept. 30 under a theme from 2 Corinthians: "We have this treasure in clay jars." The conference, an advisory body of the ELCA, comprises 65 synod bishops, the presiding bishop and the secretary. The conference welcomed 13 new bishops elected since the last conference meeting in March.

    "Thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of God's people, the Conference of Bishops is now more diverse in more ways than it has ever been," said the Rev. William O. Gafkjen, bishop of the ELCA Indiana-Kentucky Synod and chair of the conference. "This is such an important gift, both because of the particular gifts and experiences each member of the conference brings and because it uncovers assumptions, challenges disparities and inequities, and calls for repentance and transformation in a church unaccustomed to such blessed diversity."

    In a report to the conference, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton addressed the actions taken by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, held Aug. 5-10 in Milwaukee. "I am convinced that the decisions we took were gospel-based — both judgement and promise — not a flash-in-the-pan, reflexive attempt to seem 'relevant,'" said Eaton. Alluding to Acts 15:28, Eaton continued, "'It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us' to take these steps."

    During the meeting, the presiding bishop and the conference issued a letter to President Trump urging him to restore funding to the Augusta Victoria Hospital and the other hospitals in East Jerusalem. "We are concerned about the impact that cuts in U.S. humanitarian assistance for the West Bank and Gaza are having on cancer patients and others treated in these facilities," the bishops wrote. Augusta Victoria Hospital is owned and operated by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and supported by the ELCA and several other member churches of the LWF. The letter is in response to the memorial addressing the Augusta Victoria Hospital that was adopted by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.

    The conference voted to recommend that the Church Council, at its November 2019 meeting, work in new and concrete ways to give priority to this church's response to the global crisis of
    climate change. They also voted to commend the "Memorandum of Mutual Recognition of Relations of Full Communion" for adoption by the Church Council at the upcoming meeting.

    The conference considered proposed ordination rites being developed in response to the assembly's decision to ordain ministers of Word and Service. No decision was made about a possible recommendation to the Church Council for adoption of these rites.

    The Rev. Tracie L. Bartholomew, bishop of the ELCA New Jersey Synod and vice chair of the conference, was elected to a four-year term as chair of the conference. The Rev. Patricia A. Davenport, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, was elected to a four-year term as vice chair. Both positions are effective Jan. 1, 2020. Gafkjen has served as conference chair since 2016.

    In other business, the ELCA Conference of Bishops received:

    • A report on the three-year Leadership Initiative, which is focused on encouraging lay and rostered leaders across the ELCA.
    • An update on the ongoing development of the resource "Trustworthy Servants of the People of God," which articulates the church's hopes and expectations for its leaders.
    • A report on the conclusion of Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA. The campaign ended June 30 with a total impact of $250 million, including $195 million in cash gifts and gift commitments, as well as $55 million in planned gifts to campaign ministries.
    • A training session presented by Aubrey Thonvold, executive director of Reconciling Works, that focused on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
    • A report from the director for Mission Support, the financial offering from congregations that is shared with synods and the churchwide organization
    • Reports from the ELCA presiding bishop, vice president, secretary and treasurer, and updates from the Conference of Bishops' various committees.

      - - -
      About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
      The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.5 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



  • Presiding bishop and Conference of Bishops urge release of funds for East Jerusalem hospitals

    ​CHICAGO — The presiding bishop and Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have issued a letter to President Trump urging the administration to restore funding to Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) and other hospitals in East Jerusalem.

    AVH is owned and operated by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and supported by the ELCA and several other member churches of the LWF.

    The letter follows:

    Dear President Trump,

    With heavy hearts and a deep sense of urgency, we, the presiding bishop and Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, must call your attention to Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) and the other East Jerusalem hospitals. We are concerned about the impact that cuts in U.S. humanitarian assistance for the West Bank and Gaza are having on cancer patients and others treated in these facilities. 

    Without sufficient funds to secure the needed drugs for cancer treatment, AVH has been forced to delay treatments when doing so is ethically and medically acceptable, and it may soon have no alternative but to turn away patients who rely on the lifesaving treatments offered at AVH. AVH is owned and operated by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and several other member churches of the LWF. The LWF and its member churches intend to continue to provide lifesaving treatment to patients from the West Bank and Gaza through AVH, but the accumulated debt of the Palestinian Authority (PA) makes it increasingly difficult for AVH to pay staff, pay pharmaceutical suppliers for medications and avoid interruption of patient treatment. 

    We recognize that the situation is complicated and that many factors contribute to the PA's lack of payments to the East Jerusalem hospitals for the patients it refers to them. At the same time, the $25 million in FY2017 U.S. funding that was cut and the $25 million in FY2018 funding that has not been released to the East Jerusalem hospitals represent one-quarter of the cost of patients already treated by AVH and the East Jerusalem hospitals in those years. As of July 31, 2019, the PA debt to AVH alone was nearly $40 million, a level that is unsustainable for the LWF.

    We call on you, Mr. President, to restore funding vital to the safe and effective operation of the East Jerusalem hospitals as soon as possible so that the patients — especially children, who are particularly at risk — will continue to receive the treatment and care they need.

     

    Sincerely,

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

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


    Cc: Secretary Mike Pompeo, Representative Nita Lowey, Representative Hal Rogers, Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Patrick Leahy

     

    - - -

    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 of Sweden and The Episcopal Church issue climate commitment

    ​CHICAGO – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) joins the Church of Sweden and The Episcopal Church in a commitment to work together to advocate for national and international policies that address the urgency of the climate crisis and help create resilient communities while leaving no one behind. This statement is a renewal and update of the commitment made by the three church bodies in 2013.

    The statement follows:

    For several years, The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Church of Sweden (Lutheran) have responded with increasing urgency to the damages being inflicted on Earth, our common home. The intensity of the challenges becomes ever more apparent, and the link of unprecedented climate change to human action rests now on insurmountable scientific evidence. In human societies, these climate changes compound social injustices, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable among us with insecurities of food, livelihood and living space. Yet the burdens are not borne by humans alone: acceleration in the disappearance of species of plants and animals underlines the intertwined struggles of all life on Earth, and the destructive exploitation of resources leaves a diminished planet for all time to come.

    As we observe the Season of Creation, we renew the call for our churches to work together for the sake of Earth and to build collaborations wherever possible, both with other communities of faith and with diverse agents in our civil society. Now is the time for science, politics, business, culture and religion — everything that is an expression of human dignity — to address together this critical issue for our time.

    We claim the deep resources of our Christian faith for this work. We worship a God who created all that exists, who rejoices in its flourishing and blesses its diversity. We follow Jesus Christ, himself one of us "earth creatures," who in dying entered deeply into mortal suffering and who in rising gives hope for the renewal and restoration of all God has made. We are inspired by the divine Spirit, intimately present to all creation, who gives us strength, wisdom and perseverance to join in the "here and now" work of God in healing the brokenness of our hurting home.

    We acknowledge that these central affirmations of our faith have not guided our churches as they should. We have been slow to recognize the urgency of this crisis, lulled by traditions of honoring human life at the expense of other life and slow fully to integrate creation care into the way of love for God and neighbor. We have turned away from our own roles in environmental degradation, clinging as we could to lifestyles of unsustainable waste and overuse even as others suffer from lack of necessities. Moreover, majority cultures have ignored the insights of Indigenous siblings among us who are too often deeply affected by climate change, even as they bear spiritual practices and wisdom that can help the people of God to walk a more sustainable — and more loving — course.

    We affirm that, with God's guidance, we can do better in meeting this critical issue of our time. We acknowledge the dire urgency of this moment not through the lenses of despair, but through lenses of hope and determination. It is central to our holy calling to treasure the Earth and to care for it as our common home. This commitment does not compete with but surrounds our work for social justice within human communities.

    Specifically, we commit ourselves to work together to allow the common commitments and different contexts of our churches to challenge, inspire, complement and strengthen one another's witness.

    1. We will advocate for national and international policies and regulations that enable transitions to carbon neutral resilient societies in ways attentive to the many dimensions of climate justice.
    2. We will pursue education and advocacy efforts that attend to the most vulnerable, whose needs must be put ahead of the more privileged.
    3. We will raise awareness in our churches by promoting the use of education, worship and action resources available locally, regionally, nationally and globally.
    4. We will seek deeper understanding, through praying and listening to experiences in our own communities and with others, about ways overconsumption can be addressed and about the diverse impacts of climate change.
    5. We will build multiple collaborations: through support and cooperation with our international communions, through inter-religious dialogue and shared advocacy, through national and international organizations and with all others seeking to address climate change.

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

      The Most Rev. Dr. Antje Jackelén
      Archbishop
      Church of Sweden

      The Most Rev. Michael B Curry
      Presiding Bishop and Primate
      The Episcopal Church

       
      - - -

      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

       


Sunday
Pancakes 8:45 AM
Sunday School 9:15 AM
Worship 10:30 AM