Twenty years of raising up leaders

At the September banquet of the ELCA Fund for Leaders, 251 young adults were awarded a total of $2,111,927 in scholarships to fund their seminary education. 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the fund, which began when the 1997 ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted to offer scholarships to future rostered ministers studying at ELCA seminaries.

“In its first 20 years, the Fund for Leaders has helped support more than 500 current rostered ministers. That means at least 500 congregations and other ministries around the church are being served and led by Fund for Leaders alums,” said Gabi Aelabouni, program director. “I think most of us in the church underestimate how critical a role finances play in the lives of rostered leaders—whether they can even begin to say yes to God’s call to ministry, and whether they can sustain a basic livelihood as pastors or deacons.”

Welcoming seven new women leaders

The ELCA’s International Women Leaders initiative, started in conjunction with Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA, awarded $200,000 in scholarships to seven female students at the start of the 2017-18 school year. They join 12 other international women in pursuing their education at ELCA colleges and universities so they might take on elevated leadership roles in church and society post-graduation. The women belong to ELCA companion churches around the world.

Eaton responds to DACA announcement

“We are saddened today by the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provided relief from deportation to young people who have grown up as members of our churches, as neighbors playing with our children, and enriching our communities,” said Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton in a Sept. 5 statement. “As Lutherans, we regard the family as an indispensable social institution and stand firmly against policies that cause the separation of families.”

LWF shares prayers after Las Vegas shooting

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) expressed its solidarity and pledged prayers for those directly affected and to the entire American people following the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas, in which 59 people were killed and hundreds more were injured. “It pains us, as your communion of churches, to see your people repeatedly drawn into this deadly spiral, having to cope again and again with shootings and violence,” LWF General Secretary Martin Junge wrote to Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton Oct. 3.

Lutherans assist victims of Mexico earthquakes

Carmen Morales’  home and business in Jojutla, Morelos, Mexico, was destroyed by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake on Sept. 23—one of three to hit Mexico that month. Lutheran Disaster Response is working with its partner AMEXTRA to distribute food, water and other basic necessities to those who have lost their homes.

LWF endorses statement on refugees

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) joined with ACT Alliance and other nonprofit organizations Sept. 25 in presenting a statement during a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Standing Committee meeting in which several United Nations member states were present. The statement calls upon governments in developed countries to be more active in addressing the global refugee crisis. “The New York Declaration was a landmark for stepping up global efforts to protect refugees,” said Susan Muis, LWF regional program coordinator for Central Africa, who delivered the statement.

Pierson receives Concordia Place award

Arnold Pierson was honored Sept. 21 by Concordia Place with its “GO Champion Award,” celebrating the impact that one committed leader can have on a community. Pierson has served as pastor of several ELCA congregations, in a leadership role with the ELCA Mission Investment Fund, and as president of the ELCA Federal Credit Union. Concordia Place, a ministry of Concordia Lutheran Church, Chicago, provides low-income and working families with multigenerational programs.

News from ELCA Advocacy

In September, ELCA and Episcopal Church advocacy offices in Washington, D.C., hosted Mabel Madinga, general secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi, and Lister Nyang’anyi, director of the Department of Development Services of the Central Diocese of the Anglican Church in Tanzania. The leaders told congressional and administration staff that climate change is increasing food insecurity, gender injustice and health issues in their countries.

In Malawi and Tanzania, where 80 percent of people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture, drought is increasing. Both churches are helping smallholder farmers adopt conservation agriculture, a farming method that helps restore degraded land, improve yields and protect the environment.

Madinga said displacement due to climate change forces women who remain behind into survival mode. “Women are more vulnerable by having to travel longer distances to draw water and [are] at greater risk of rape when they do so.” The Malawian church has installed solar-powered water pumps to reduce this risk.

Churches in Africa and elsewhere can only implement development programs on a small scale due to a lack of resources. Similar scarcity hinders national governments’ capacity to expand economic development programs. Through foreign assistance funding, the U.S. government can help fill this gap. “U.S. foreign aid is a vital part of global development and humanitarian response, without which poverty rates will increase and many lives will be lost,” said Patricia Kisare, ELCA program director for international policy.

ELCA Advocacy will continue urging Congress to ensure robust funding of anti-poverty programs.

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