Women gather to take action, be inspired

More than 3,300 Lutheran women—including 1,300 newcomers—met July 13-16 in Minneapolis for the Women of the ELCA Tenth Triennial Gathering under the theme “All Anew.” They participated in workshops, film screenings and a 5K “Run, Walk and Roll.” Speakers included Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist; Alexia Salvatierra, a national leader on issues of immigration and poverty; and Angela Khabeb, pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church, Waukesha, Wis. Khabeb challenged the women in her closing sermon with these words: “Christianity is not comfortable. If you are comfortable in Jesus, you are doing it wrong.”

WELCA members elect leaders, pass resolutions

The Women of the ELCA Tenth Triennial Convention united some 300 voting members July 11-13 in Minneapolis. Voting members elected leadership for the next triennium, approved the 2018 budget and passed several resolutions, including to support leadership needs in the ELCA by encouraging women to seek ordination as rostered ministers; to establish July 11-Feb. 4, 2018, as a time of prayer in ELCA congregations to end human trafficking; and to “go green” at its next convention and gathering in 2020.

Eaton receives interfaith award

On July 2, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton was presented with the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Excellence in Interfaith Award at the organization’s 54th convention in Rosemont, Ill. ISNA is the largest umbrella organization of American Muslims, representing more than 2,500 mosques and community centers throughout the U.S. “We need to have these personal relationships because only when we can see each other truly as people … we can begin to stand shoulder to shoulder together,” Eaton said in her acceptance remarks.

Presiding bishop co-signs letter to Trump

On July 19, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton co-signed a letter with other members of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East addressed to President Donald Trump regarding conflict in the Middle East. The letter stated: “Based on the legitimate, long-standing aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for national self-determination and security, we believe a two-state solution still represents the most realistic way to meet essential interests of both peoples and to resolve the conflict.”

Increase in Christian refugees

Most refugees admitted to the U.S. in the first five months of the Trump administration were Christians. This contrasts a trend under the Obama administration that saw more Muslim refugees admitted. Data from the U.S. State Department shows a decline in Muslim refugees from 50 percent in February to 31 percent in June. While most of the world’s refugees continue to come from Muslim-majority countries, a report from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says that with the executive order restricting U.S. entry from six Muslim-majority countries, “the religious affiliation of refugees has come under scrutiny.”

DIAKONIA celebrates 70th anniversary

DIAKONIA World Federation, an ecumenical association of diaconal communities from around the globe, celebrated its 70th anniversary at its 22nd World Assembly June 28-July 5 in Chicago. Some 400 deacons, deaconesses and diaconal ministers from 28 countries gathered under the theme “Shaken by the Wind.” Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton brought greetings. Assembly themes explored God’s Spirit gathering deacons together, and speakers, Bible studies, workshops, small groups, worship and contextual learning were offered.

Resourceful Servants launched

On Aug. 14, the ELCA launched Resourceful Servants, an initiative to encourage habits that strengthen and sustain individual and congregational financial wellness and growth. The program’s goal is to help rostered ministers move toward financial wellness early in, and throughout, their ministry, developing the skills needed to effectively manage household finances; assisting congregations in the effective management of finances; teaching stewardship and promoting faithful giving; and engaging in all these activities in a direct, positive and forthright manner.

ADLA celebrates 30th anniversary

The African Descent Lutheran Association (ADLA) and the Union of Black Episcopalians co-hosted a joint assembly July 22-25 in Cherry Hill, N.J. Under the theme “Like a Mighty Stream, Let Justice Roll: Absalom, Jehu, and Beyond,” the event was the ADLA’s 16th biennial assembly and celebrated its 30th anniversary. Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry presided at the assembly’s closing eucharist, and artist Kelly Glow performed from her hip-hop rendition of the Small Catechism. Members also elected and re-elected ADLA officers.

Accord endorsed on key Reformation dispute

The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), holding its once-in-seven-years worldwide General Council in Germany, signed a declaration this summer endorsing the 1999 Catholic-Lutheran agreement on how Christians might be worthy of salvation in the eyes of God. The agreement aims to close the centuries-old “faith versus works” debate that sparked the Reformation by merging the Lutheran and Catholic views on salvation rather than setting them against each other. WCRC represents 80 million members of Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed, United, Uniting and Waldensian churches.

Higher ed. network gets new director

In July, Mark Wilhelm was named as the first executive director of the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities (NECU). Wilhelm previously served as ELCA program director for schools and was appointed the network’s interim executive director when it was established in 2015. The network was established in collaboration with the ELCA’s 26 colleges and universities to promote their shared mission and identity. Luther College in Regina, Saskatchewan, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada was recently admitted as the 27th member of the network.

Advocacy for Campus Ministry Award

Sue Rothmeyer, a deacon and executive for admin­istration with the ELCA Office of the Secretary, received the inaugural Sue E. Rothmeyer Advocacy for Campus Ministry Award at the closing banquet of the Lutheran Campus Ministry national staff conference in Austin, Texas, in June. The award was established to recognize individuals who advance the work of ELCA campus ministry by sharing its importance and value with the broader church and society.

News from ELCA Advocacy

Children and youth nationwide are back in the routine of classes, homework and activities centered on the education system. Parents and administrators are no stranger to all that’s needed to support young people in their development, and it all begins with good nutrition.

For far too many, a school meal might be the only food a child receives in a day. But child nutrition programs are increasingly threatened by tighter federal budgets and funding debates in Washington, D.C.

ELCA Advocacy supports the ELCA’s commitment to end hunger by collaborating with nearly 80 faith-based organizations that work on federal hunger policies.

“There is something inspiring about walking through the U.S. Capitol and meeting with members of Congress alongside Episcopalian, Jewish and Muslim colleagues,” said John B. Johnson, ELCA program director for domestic policy.

The ongoing ELCA and Episcopal Church “For Such a Time as This” campaign exemplifies how the church amplifies its voice by advocating together. On Sept. 21, Lutherans and Episcopalians will pray, fast and urge Congress to support strong funding for nutrition programs that feed millions of children and youth in our country.

Visit elca.org/prayfastact to learn how you can join the ELCA and the Episcopal Church as we pray, fast and act “For Such a Time as This.”

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