Top-notch preaching most attracts people
That’s the conclusion of a Pew Research Center study, released in August, that asked 5,000 people about their search for a new church or other house of worship. “This is what people value in a congregation—a good message, a good homily that resonates with them and gives them guidance,” said Greg Smith, Pew’s associate director for religion research. More than 4 in 5 people (83 percent) put preaching at the top of their checklist, followed by clergy and lay leaders who make them feel welcome (79 percent) and an appealing style of service (74 percent).
Supplemental resources for marriage service
In September the ELCA released supplemental resources for use within the Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW) marriage service. The liturgical resources were developed by a working group established following the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly’s approval of a memorial regarding conversations about ministering to same-gender couples and their families. In its recommendation, the group said the resources are “a way to continue to live into our commitment ‘to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.’” Download at bit.ly/2bSJUpv.
The North Carolina Synod has created several resources to commemorate and observe the Reformation’s 500th anniversary, including a curriculum with corresponding coloring pages, called Ever-Reforming: A Reformation 500 Cross-Generational Study. To download, go to nclutheran.org/events/reformation500.
ELCA sends support for relief efforts in Italy
On Aug. 23, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit central Italy, killing more than 260 people. Through Lutheran Disaster Response, the ELCA sent $10,000 to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Italy to assist those affected by the earthquake and aftershocks. Heiner Bludau of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Italy said no Lutheran congregations were located in the affected area. The church in Italy is supporting the relief efforts of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy.
LIRS honors Madeleine Albright
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service will host its annual Walk of Courage Award Gala on Oct. 26 in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the benefits that migrants and refugees bring to communities. Its Walk of Courage Award will be presented to former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for her career achievements and lifetime commitment to furthering equality. Mark S. Hanson, former ELCA presiding bishop, will receive the Walk of Faith Award for his career of service to the Lutheran community.
Reformation anniversary event in Sweden
On Oct. 31 in Lund, Sweden, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Roman Catholic Church will host an ecumenical commemoration for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Pope Francis, LWF President Bishop Munib A. Younan and LWF General Secretary Martin Junge will lead a common prayer service in Lund Cathedral. Tickets for a public event in the Malmö Arena are available for purchase. The event will be televised and live-streamed on World Vision. For more information, visit lund2016.net.
Mother Teresa, a nun who devoted her life to the poor, was declared a saint by Pope Francis at the Vatican on Sept. 4. More than 120,000 people were in St. Peter’s Square for the canonization. She will now be known as St. Teresa of Kolkata and her feast day is Sept. 5, the date she died in 1997 at age 87. “She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road,” the pope said. “She made her voice heard before the powers of this world so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime of poverty they created.”