A call to action on International Women’s Day
On March 8, the ELCA will join people around the world in celebrating International Women’s Day. ELCA leaders are encouraging members to observe this day by learning about and supporting the International Women Leaders initiative that, through “Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA,” provides scholarships for women from the ELCA’s global companion churches. For details, visit elca.org/campaign.
ELCA World Hunger releases Lenten resource
A new, five-week devotional resource, ELCA World Hunger’s “40 Days of Giving,” is now available for use this Lent. Readings explore questions related to economic justice and are written for conﬁrmation-age youth to adults. Lessons for children are also included. A free download is available at elca.org/hunger.
Holy Land Lutheran church elects new bishop
In January, the Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) elected Ibrahim Azar (below) as bishop of the church. Azar, 55, is pastor of the Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem. He was the sole candidate for the leadership position. The incumbent, Bishop Munib A. Younan, has led the church since 1998, and is president of the Lutheran World Federation, of which the ELCJHL and ELCA are members.
Free meals to the homeless in Rome
In a move aimed at defusing controversy, a newly opened McDonald’s located in the shadow of St. Peter’s Basilica is offering free meals to the homeless. The company said it is working with the archbishop who dispenses charity on behalf of Pope Francis to provide 1,000 free lunches to the homeless who live in the area around the Vatican. Volunteers from the Italian charity Medicina Solidale will collect and distribute meals.
LWF hospital receives U.S. funding
Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), operated by the Lutheran World Federation, received more than $11 million Jan. 22 from the U.S. for the payment of Palestinian Authority debts to East Jerusalem hospitals. The funds received substantially reduces the amount of money owed to AVH for the treatment of Gaza and West Bank patients. Mark Brown, an ELCA pastor and LWF representative in Jerusalem, said the funding helped avoid “any interruption to the lifesaving cancer and kidney treatment provided by AVH.”
LIRS responds to refugee ban, border wall
On Jan. 27, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) issued a statement opposing President Donald Trump’s executive orders on building a wall along the U.S. southern border, negating sanctuary cities and banning refugees from seven predominately Muslim countries. In the release, LIRS president and CEO Linda Hartke said: “At a time when so many people are fleeing unspeakable violence and persecution to seek refuge in the U.S., today’s decision is a drastic contradiction of what it means to be an American. As the world has its eyes on us, it is imperative that President Trump uphold the values that America has always lived by: compassion, empathy, family, human rights and protection for those seeking a safe haven from danger and persecution.”
Bishop statement on refugee executive order
On Jan. 30, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton issued a pastoral message addressing President Donald Trump’s executive order on redistricting entry by refugees: “People of faith helped start and still sustain the refugee resettlement program in the United States following World War II. We are committed to continuing ministries of welcome that support and build communities around the country and stand firmly against any policies that result in scaling back the refugee resettlement program.”
“We are called to be a church that embraces each person and confronts racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, age, gender, familial, sexual orientation, physical and economic barriers that can manifest themselves in unjust treatment, inequalities, exclusion and violence. Do we always get it right? No, we don’t. As a denomination that must do better at being a neighbor, we have work to do.” –ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton in her message in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day