The following news item was first published by Women of the ELCA.

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton thanked Women of the ELCA voting members for their work in the church during the final session of the 10th Triennial Convention, July 13.

“You lead the church in so many ways,” Eaton said. “You are mobilizing our congregations and communities through prayer, ministry and political action.”

She thanked the organization for working to educate others about human trafficking.

“One thing that has been particularly important for this past triennium is to raise up the horror of human trafficking that is so prevalent all around the world,” she said. “And this is just a scourge, and it mostly affects children, women and girls.

“So, thank you for the work in that, and some really creative ways of addressing this.”

For example, some synodical women’s organizations pass out bars of S.O.A.P. (save our adolescents from prostitution) to motels, casinos and other places where human trafficking is likely to occur. The soap is wrapped with a red band that provides the National Human Trafficking Hotline number (888-373-7888).

Others are educating employees of convention centers, motels and casinos about the signs of human trafficking and working with politicians to create legislation supporting anti-trafficking laws.

“You’ve also been instrumental in helping us work with International Women Leaders, a program where women from our companion synods across the globe have a chance to further their education. Your president and your director have helped to support this. We now have 12 young women who have studied in the United States. Another group is coming over this year. They get four-year scholarships. Our ELCA colleges and universities provide half, and the International Women Leaders program provides the other half. These are amazing leaders who are committed to going back to their home countries and their home churches.”

Eaton praised Women of the ELCA for getting solar power to Phebe Hospital in rural Liberia.

“An Ebola epidemic hit that country, and Phebe Hospital was a major place for treatment. You helped raise money to install solar panels,” she said. “Not only are you providing health care, you are providing sustainable, renewable energy in a country where that’s still being developed. You’re right on the cutting edge.”

Voting members and participants of Women of the ELCA, the women’s organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, are in Minneapolis, for 10th Triennial Convention (July 11-13) and Gathering (July 14–16).

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