Recent News Stories

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

  • Week of Prayer for Christian Unity devotions offered by four heads of communion

    CHICAGO – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and leaders from The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada have prepared a series of devotions for the annual ecumenical celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, observed this year from January 18 to 25. Each year churches from around the world mark a week to pray together for Christian unity.

    The theme for the Week of Prayer 2019 is based the 16th chapter of Deuteronomy, which states, "Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue."

    In her devotion for Saturday, January 19, Eaton reflects on Jesus' words from John 18:37: "For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth."

    "So how do we live as people of Truth in a time of spin?" asked Eaton. "In baptism God has claimed us as beloved children joined to the death and resurrection of Christ, sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. We now belong to the Truth."

    In addition to Eaton, devotions were contributed by the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop and primate, The Episcopal Church; the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, primate, Anglican Church of Canada; and the Rev. Susan C. Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

    Christians across the United States and Canada are invited to use this devotion to reflect on Scripture together, to participate in jointly organized fellowship services, and to pray for unity together.

    Download the devotions.

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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 more than 3.5 million members in more than 9,400 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


  • ELCA Presiding Bishop, Christian leaders issue statement on current U.S. policy toward Israel and Palestine

    November 14, 2018

    Current U.S. Policy, Israel/Palestine, and the Churches

    A New Context
    Forty years ago, the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel were signed and 25 years ago, the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) were signed. For many, these two events offered hope of movement towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israelis, Palestinians, and other neighboring countries. While we recognize these anniversaries, the current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for most of the inhabitants is one of shattered hopes. Since President Trump took office in 2017, U.S. support for Israel over the concerns of Palestinians has become explicit instead of implied. As leaders of U.S.-based churches and Christian organizations with long ties and close connections with Palestinian Christians and churches, we are deeply concerned about these developments and urge our elected officials to consider the devastating impact of these shifts on those most directly affected, as well as on the possibility of positive, constructive, and credible U.S. engagement to work for a resolution to this enduring conflict.

    President Trump and Shifts in U.S. Policy
    At the start of his term, President Trump offered supportive words for the traditional peace process, even saying in late September 2018 that he “like[d]” a two-state solution. However, U.S. positions on key issues like Israeli settlements, the status of Jerusalem, and Palestinian refugees have shifted significantly. Publicly the U.S. has remained quiet on the issue of settlements since the start of President Trump’s administration, tacitly endorsing Israeli settlements as new construction increases.

    On Jerusalem, the Trump administration officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. President Trump has given no indication that the Administration remains committed to the international promise and policy that Jerusalem should be a shared city. While Vice President Pence told the Israelis that the U.S. decision will not influence the final status of its borders, which he said was up to the parties, President Trump has declared that Jerusalem is now off the table as a subject for negotiations in a final agreement.

    In a subsequent action, in early October, the administration decided to close the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem that had served as the diplomatic point of engagement for and with Palestinians. The move included demoting the U.S. Consul General. Instead of being responsible for Palestinian matters and answering directly to the Secretary of State, the Consul General in Jerusalem will now answer to the U.S. Ambassador, further diminishing the impression of U.S. respect for international convention.

    The Trump administration has also proposed changing the definition of who is a Palestinian refugee. Currently, Palestinians and the descendants of Palestinians who fled or were driven out of historic Palestine during the 1948 war maintain their original refugee status. Some of these were uprooted a second time during the 1967 war when more Palestinians were displaced. The passing of refugee status to the descendants of those displaced in war is standard practice in situations of prolonged conflict. However, the U.S. seeks to strip refugee status from those descendants, meaning that most Palestinians who were born in refugee camps and who are currently considered refugees would no longer be considered as such. The goal of this change is to attempt to take the issue of Palestinian refugees’ right of return off the negotiating table.

    These policy changes were a direct affront to Palestinians. The U.S. Embassy opened in May to great fanfare on a day marked by Israel as its founding and by Palestinians as the nakba (catastrophe). While this move was being celebrated by Israeli and U.S. officials in Jerusalem, Palestinians were being killed by Israeli armed forces at the Gaza border during a largely non-violent protest that was part of the Great March of Return. No statement or condemnation of the killings has been issued by the U.S. government.

    The Administration’s Measures to Punish Palestinians
    Palestinian officials have stated that they see the U.S. negotiating team as biased due to the team’s history, current communications, and actions and therefore will not meet with U.S. officials or participate in U.S.-led negotiations. The U.S. in turn has said that since the Palestinian Authority is not taking part in U.S.-led negotiations, Palestinians should not receive U.S. financial support. The U.S. has also closed the PLO office in the United States, frozen the PLO’s bank accounts in the U.S., and expelled the family of the PLO representative to the U.S.

    In January, the U.S. withheld more than half of a funding installment to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Then, in August, the U.S. announced it would halt all U.S. funding to UNRWA and formally withheld $300 million in funds that had been promised to the organization. This means UNRWA will need to heavily cut back on the services it provides to 5.4 million Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank, and Gaza. Schools and hospitals may be forced to close, thus depriving Palestinians of education, health care, needed jobs, and hope for a better future.

    In late August, the U.S. also cut all non-security related assistance to the West Bank and Gaza, over $200 million in funds, and is also cutting funding for peacebuilding programs. The U.S. also is reported to be taking steps to discontinue funding to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, which includes the Lutheran World Federation’s Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives. Again, vulnerable Palestinians are suffering and will continue to suffer as a result of U.S. policy decisions.

    Even as the administration has decided to pull humanitarian funding, the State of Israel remains the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, receiving approximately $3.8 billion in military aid each year. This funding helps the government of Israel maintain the occupation of the Palestinian territories, making the U.S. complicit in Israel’s detention of Palestinian children in military prisons, violent repression of peaceful protestors, and demolitions of Palestinian homes and communities.

    The administration is also taking actions to deny the freedom of speech to those who criticize the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. The Department of Education has adjusted its definition of anti-Semitism to include anti-Zionism and criticism of the state of Israel. Any person or group speaking at educational institutions who states their support for anti-Zionism, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement or is otherwise critical of Israel’s policies is potentially at risk for investigation and sanction by the Department of Education.

    While President Trump’s administration is not the first to show its favoritism of Israelis over Palestinians, we are deeply troubled by its attempt to pursue a sweeping and coordinated set of policies designed to punish Palestinians and take away their human rights, dignity, and hope. By promoting these policies, the Trump administration makes it harder for peace to be realized and increases the chance that there will be new violence.

    We support peace, justice, and human rights
    As Christian churches and organizations in the United States, we strongly oppose this treatment of Palestinians. Most Palestinians have been peacefully protesting for 70 years in the hopes of gaining international recognition and their own state. We call on people of all faiths to stand up in support of human rights for both Palestinians and Israelis, including the right to self-determination. We urge the Trump administration to restore humanitarian funding to Palestinians through bilateral assistance and UNRWA, and to pursue engagement in honest, credible, and serious efforts with Palestinians, Israelis, regional parties, and the international community, to seek a just resolution to the conflict. We pray that we may soon join in celebrating a region where all are at peace and enjoy their rights and liberties without regard to race and creed.

    Eddy Alemán
    General Secretary
    Reformed Church in America

    Joyce Ajlouny
    General Secretary
    American Friends Service Committee

    J Ron Byler
    Executive Director
    Mennonite Central Committee U.S.

    Rev. Paula Clayton Dempsey
    Director of Partnership Relations
    Alliance of Baptists

    Marie Dennis
    Pax Christi International

    Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer
    General Minister and President
    United Church of Christ

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

    Susan Gunn
    Interim Director Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

    Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary
    General Board of Church and Society
    The United Methodist Church

    Dr. Nathan Hosler
    Director, Office of Public Witness
    Church of the Brethren

    Rev. Julia Brown Karimu
    Co-Executive, Global Ministries
    Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

    Rev. John L. McCullough
    President and CEO
    Church World Service

    Rev. Dr. James Moos
    Co-Executive, Global Ministries
    Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

    Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson
    Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
    Presbyterian Church (USA)

    Rev. Teresa Hord Owens
    General Minister and President
    Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

    Rev. Reggie Smith
    Executive Director
    Office of Social Justice Christian Reformed Church of North America​

  • ELCA Church Council meets, addresses well-governed and sustainable church

    CHICAGO – The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) met at The Lutheran Center in Chicago Nov. 8-11. The council, which serves as the ELCA's board of directors, centered its meeting around worship, Bible study and personal reflections on faith.

    As it continues to focus its work around Future Directions 2025, the council engaged in discussions around a "well-governed, connected and sustainable church," as outlined in the plan's fifth goal. Addressing efforts toward governance and building consensus around a shared understanding of its roles and responsibilities, the council approved the Preface and Part 1 of the ELCA Church Council Governance policy manual. The policy manual development committee also led discussions on Part 2 of the manual, which will address how the council can best be equipped to fulfill the roles and responsibilities outlined in Part 1.

    In other action, the council elected the Rev. Philip Hirsch to a four-year renewable term as executive director of ELCA Domestic Mission, beginning Feb. 1, 2019.  The council also re-elected the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla to a four-year renewable term as executive director of ELCA Global Mission, beginning Feb. 1, 2019.

    In other business, the council:

    • recommended to the 2019 Churchwide Assembly the adoption of the policy statement, "A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment;"
    • defined the symbols for the roster of Ministers of Word and Service as a deacon's stole and a cross. In addition, the council requested the ELCA worship team develop an appropriate rite and rubrics for the ordination of deacons, subject to the 2019 Churchwide Assembly approval of ordination as the entrance rite for the roster of Ministers of Word and Service;
    • formed a working group to draft a declaration to people of African descent to be presented to the 2019 Churchwide Assembly. The working group will develop in this document a confession of this church's bondage to the sins of slavery, racism, discrimination, white supremacy and quietism, and a commitment to begin the work of repentance, which this church confesses to be "the chief topic of Christian teaching;"
    • extended the Mission Support experiment with five synods—Nebraska Synod, Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, New England Synod, Lower Susquehanna Synod, and Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod. The council requested an initial report be brought to the April 2019 meeting and a final report and recommendations to the November 2019 meeting. Mission Support is the financial offerings from congregations shared with synods and the churchwide organization;
    • received reports on the implementation of the strategy toward authentic diversity within the ELCA and the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery. The reports are in response to actions taken by the 2016 Churchwide Assembly;
    • approved a 2019 fiscal year current fund spending authorization of $67,164, 676; and approved a 2019 ELCA World Hunger spending authorization of $21,500,000;
    • approved a Church Council designated fund representing the excess revenue over expenses from fiscal year 2018, estimated to be in the range of $1.5-$2.5 million, to be released toward funding the fiscal year 2019 operating budget;
    • recommended amendments to the constitution of this church for adoption by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly;
    • adopted revision to Policies and Procedures of the ELCA for Addressing Social Concerns;
    • revised the Alcohol Social Criteria Investment Screen; and
    • participated in a conversation on racial justice;

    The council also received:

    • reports from the officers, its committees, the administrative team and the Conference of Bishops;
    • an update on Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA;
    • a report of the Theological Education Advisory Committee (TEAC);
    • an update on Lutheran Services in America;
    • presentations from Separately Incorporated Ministries;
    • congregational vitality learnings; and
    • 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 more than 3.5 million members in more than 9,400 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


  • Philip Hirsch elected executive director of ELCA Domestic Mission

    CHICAGO  – The Rev. Philip C. Hirsch was elected to a four-year renewable term as executive director of the Domestic Mission unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Hirsch was elected by the ELCA Church Council at its November meeting. His term will begin Feb. 1, 2019.

    Hirsch has served as director for evangelical mission and assistant to the bishop in the ELCA Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod since 2009. Before joining the synod staff, Hirsch served as pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Fairfax, Va., from 1999 to 2009. Hirsch was pastor of Christus Evangelical Lutheran Church in Camden, N.J., from 1994 to 1999, and he served his first call at Epiphany Lutheran Church in Camden from 1990 to 1994.

    "I am grateful for this opportunity to help serve and lead the church in its mission in the United States," Hirsch said. "I believe that Jesus Christ is the light of the world and the hope for our broken humanity. I look forward to helping our church grow in its ability to connect a younger and more ethnically and economically diverse people with the gospel. I am confident because I know the Holy Spirit always gives us wisdom, power and love far greater than the challenges we face." 

    Hirsch received his Bachelor of Arts from Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., in 1986 and his Master of Divinity degree from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 1990. The seminary is one of seven ELCA seminaries. Hirsch earned his Doctor of Ministry in homiletics from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, in 1997.

    The current executive director for Domestic Mission, the Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, has served since January 2008 and is retiring from the position Jan. 31, 2019. 

    - - -

    About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
    The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.4 million members in more than 9,100 congregations 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

  • ELCA, Episcopal, and Catholic Church leaders issue statement on East Jerusalem hospitals

    The Presiding Bishop and Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church on behalf of its House of Bishops, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committees on International Justice and Peace and Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs together wish to raise their grave concern that the Trump Administration has apparently decided to halt further U.S. humanitarian assistance to hospitals in East Jerusalem as part of a wider curtailment of U.S. funding that has been assisting the Palestinian people for many years.

    The four medical institutions associated with us include: Augusta Victoria Hospital (Lutheran) St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital and Princess Basma Rehabilitation Centre (both Anglican/Episcopal), as well as St. Joseph’s Hospital (Catholic), together with Makassed Islamic Charitable Hospital, and Red Crescent Maternity Hospital, are providing invaluable medical care for the most vulnerable populations, including Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank. We consider them integral parts of our common commitment to ministry in the Holy Land.


    These hospitals provide life-saving and, in some cases, unique forms of health care not available otherwise to Palestinians. For example, Augusta Victoria provides kidney dialysis for children and state-of-the-art cancer care. St. John of Jerusalem is the only charitable provider of expert eye care in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre provides services for children with a wide range of disabilities and has become one of the pioneering rehabilitation centers in autism treatment in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. St. Joseph’s is a 73-bed general hospital serving the Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. All of these institutions provide extensive outreach services throughout the West Bank.

    Each has benefited from U.S. assistance for decades and, therefore, this decision to discontinue that funding leaves the patients, the wider Palestinian community, and us disappointed and perplexed. It is difficult for us to understand why this humanitarian assistance is being brought to a halt, given that lives are being threatened unnecessarily.


    Calling the decision “a blow to the health of the city”, more than a dozen Israeli doctors recently said, “a sudden and significant cut of support for medical services will cause imminent and serious harm to the health and wellbeing of those residents of the city who are well-served by these hospitals and medical centers.”


    In addition to being a morally correct thing to do, U.S. funding is key to paying pharmaceutical suppliers of medications, paying staff, and avoiding any interruption in the treatment of patients. We call on the President to restore this vital funding so that these patients will continue to receive the treatment and care they need.



    The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton

    Presiding Bishop
    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Chair


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


    The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry

    Presiding Bishop
    The Episcopal Church


    Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera
    Bishop of Scranton

    Chair, USCCB Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs


    Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio

    Archbishop for the Military Services, USA

    Chair, USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace


  • ELCA presiding bishop responds to Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

    Dear Sisters and Brothers,

    I write to you with a broken heart – for the lives lost, wounded, and shattered by horrific hatred and violence at Tree of Life Congregation this morning. We join our Jewish neighbors and enter into mourning for all that has been lost. In our grief, God is our comfort. "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18).

    From Pittsburgh to Portland, and around the world, Jews are living in fear. Anti-Semitism is on the rise. Public acts of hatred and bigotry against Jews are commonplace. As Christians, and particularly as Lutherans, we deplore and reject this bigotry. "We recognize in anti-Semitism a contradiction and affront to the Gospel, a violation of our hope and calling, and we pledge this church to oppose the deadly working of such bigotry, both within our own circles and in the society around us" (1994 Declaration of the ELCA to the Jewish Community).

    We are reminded that hate-filled violence knows no bounds – whether a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, a Christian church in Charleston, or a Jewish synagogue In Pittsburgh. As people of faith, we are bound together not only in our mourning, but also in our response.  

    Therefore, in this tender moment of grief, let us reach out to those whose hearts are most broken – our Jewish neighbors. I encourage you to contact your local synagogue, or your Jewish colleagues, friends, and family members, to share your words of care, support, love, and protection. There may be specific acts you might offer to demonstrate your care, such as when the members of Faith Lutheran Church surrounded Congregation Beth Israel of Chico, California, serving as Shomrim, or guardians, as they observed Yom Kippur following a hate crime in 2009.

    Such simple acts can go a long way to demonstrate our love, as an extension of God's love. As we seek to heal the brokenhearted, we are assured that God is near. There is no greater promise in the face of grief.

    In peace,

    The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton

    Presiding Bishop, ELCA

Pancakes 8:45 AM
Sunday School 9:15 AM
Worship 10:30 AM
Confirmation 5:30 PM
Men's Bible Study 8:00 AM

Community Coffee Time

01/22/2019     9:30 AM-10:30 AM

Confirmation Class

01/23/2019     5:30 PM-6:30 PM

Community Coffee Time

01/23/2019     9:30 AM-10:30 AM

Community Coffee Time

01/24/2019     9:30 AM-10:30 AM

Community Coffee Time

01/25/2019     9:30 AM-10:30 AM