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Dear friends in Christ,

As I travel throughout the church, I see the love of Christ being lived out in so many life-giving ways – transforming communities and creating places of hope that embody God's grace.

One of these places is Arusha, a bustling city in northern Tanzania. Here we walk alongside our companions at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania through several ministries, including education and health care. Dr. Stephen and Jodi Swanson have been serving as ELCA missionaries in this area since 2013, addressing malnourishment and elevating the quality of neonatal care in Tanzania.

Today, I'd like to share the Swansons' story with you through our newest ELCA Global Church Sponsorship video, "Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus, the Great Healer." It's my hope that by watching this video, you'll see the profound ways in which your gifts are bringing hope and healing into the lives of so many of our neighbors in Tanzania and throughout the world.

Without the support of people like you, this type of medical mission work wouldn't be possible. Financial support for missionaries has decreased significantly in recent years, even as the need for skilled pastors, doctors, nurses and educators remains.

We give thanks to all who have provided support to our missionaries over the years, and we ask for your continued prayers and support. Will you make a gift today to help ensure that missionaries like the Swansons can continue to live out their call to ministry? Together, we can continue to share God's love alongside our siblings in Christ in Tanzania and throughout the world.

With gratitude,

Andrew G. Steele
Director, ELCA Global Church Sponsorship


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Lutheran Disaster Response receives grant for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts

CHICAGO (July 24, 2018) - Lutheran Disaster Response has been allocated up to $7.3 million from the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD) as part of a cooperative agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support the implementation of a disaster case-management delivery mechanism for survivors of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Lutheran Disaster Response is one of five National VOAD members participating in Project Comeback: Texas, a program specific to the state. Working through Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response, a ministry of Upbring, funds will be used to hire case managers to help disaster survivors access their recovery needs and identify resources, financial and other, to rebuild their homes and their lives.

"Lutheran Disaster Response is pleased to be a part of this program that will help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey by providing disaster case-management services through our long-time affiliate, Upbring, which has many years' experience in this work. This work will assist survivors by having a person to walk with them down the long road to recovery," said the Rev. Michael Stadie, program director of Lutheran Disaster Response U.S.

Much of the work will be focused in 10 counties, one of which includes the city of Rockport, a Texas coastal city that was one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey.

"Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response, a ministry of Upbring, is honored to partner with the ELCA and Lutheran Disaster Response to provide disaster case-management services for an anticipated 1,000 families along the Texas Gulf Coast that continue to feel the devastation of Hurricane Harvey," said Kurt Senske, Upbring CEO. "By joining forces with local congregations and community organizations, we will truly be serving those in need as we provide help, hope and resources to create a brighter tomorrow."

According to a National VOAD press release, Project Comeback: Texas will be implemented by National VOAD members through their local affiliates and partners, and the direct providers will be organizations already connected to their communities, allowing for better understanding of local relationships, resources and culture. It is also expected that these organizations will hire, collectively, over 400 people – the vast majority of whom will be local hires, further contributing to the community's economic recovery.

Many of the National VOAD consortium partners are already working in these areas and the availability of FEMA funding will allow them to expand their capacity to other areas of need and extend the length of time that they are able to provide disaster case-management services to over 12,000 households in need of further support.

About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.7 million members in more than 9,300 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.

For information contact:
Candice Hill Buchbinder
773-380-2877
Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org


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ELCA presiding bishop responds to Supreme Court decision on travel ban

(June 26, 2018)- Thus says the Lord: Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow ... (Jeremiah 22:3).

I am dismayed by the Supreme Court’s recent decision concerning the president’s authority to restrict travel into the United States. It applies to travelers from certain countries based on those countries’ inability to provide information necessary for immigration vetting. Strong vetting procedures have already been authorized by Congress and reviews of applications for possible links to terrorism are also in place. Therefore, restricting all travelers from certain countries simply because they are citizens of those countries is deeply troubling. In the past, we have seen the sometimes horrific effects of excluding and marginalizing (or worse) whole classes of people based on their ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender identity or other characteristics.

Our social statement, “For Peace in God’s World,” provides theological guidance for the church to respond by offering wise words of caution:

  • Citizens need to give careful attention to how we in the United States perceive our national interest and interpret our national identity, since what states do depends in large measure on their views of their own interests and identity. Sin’s power often makes itself felt in arrogant and self-righteous views of national identity, and in narrow, short-term, and absolute views of national interest.

  • We expect expressions of our nation’s identity to build on the best of our traditions, to respectothers’ identity, and to open up paths for mutual understanding. For the sake of a greater good or for reasons of conscience, citizens may need to oppose a prevailing understanding or practice of national identity and interest.

With this court decision, we are again reaching a point where the assertion of “national security” by the executive branch of government results in the rejection of all other considerations in national policy discussions. Our social statement also reminds us: “In bondage to sin, we fall captive to fear.” Jesus taught us to love one another. The social statement calls us to “a dynamic vision of difference in unity.”

In a time ... when an idolatrous allegiance to one’s own community endangers our oneness, we must voice with clarity the powerful vision of difference in unity. This vision calls us to engage differences, not to ignore or fear them. The hope for earthly peace challenges people to strengthen their own particular communities in ways that promote respect and appreciation for people in other communities, for all share a common humanity.

Let us recall that all people are created in God’s image and, therefore, rather than have suspicion be our assumption, let us attribute to them honor and respect as God does.

God’s peace,

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Provide life-changing relief with a gift to Lutheran Disaster Response today.


From the ELCA Task Force on Women and Justice: One in Christ


Draft ELCA policy statement, "A Declaration of Our Inter-Religious Commitment"


ELCA Campaign Progress


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(May 15, 2018) – Like so many here in our country and around the world, I am appalled and saddened by yesterday’s escalation of Israeli military action against protestors in Gaza. Many reports indicate that at least 60 Palestinians, including six children, have died and more than 2,000 have been injured as a result of Israel’s disproportionate use of force. Our church will support a planned medical mission from The Lutheran World Federation’s Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem to Gaza to assist the wounded.

I join Bishop Sami-Ibrahim Azar of our partner church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), who today said:

  • We mourn with the families of the dead and dying and pray for the recovery of the injured. We believe that violent actions against the Palestinian civilians will hinder the potential for peace and reconciliation efforts between Israel and Palestine and will only lead to more violence and bloodshed.

I endorse his call “upon the Israeli government to show restraint and to pursue negotiations with Palestinian leaders rather than choosing violent action against unarmed protestors.”

Yesterday’s events should also be seen in the context of the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. When that decision was announced late last year, I said:

  • This unilateral action would not support the cause of peace and a two-state solution but rather would unnecessarily create further tensions and possible violence that would make efforts to bring them back together for talks much more difficult.

I also support the ELCJHL’s long-standing position, affirmed by Bishop Azar today, that “any final status agreement will include Jerusalem as a shared city for Jews, Christians and Muslims with free access to holy sites for all and that it must serve as capital of both Palestine and Israel.”

Always, but especially in this time of deep distress, I urge us all to join his call to “continue to pray, advocate and faithfully work towards a peaceful and just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

God’s peace,

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
http://www.elca.org/News-and-Events/7931


To read the social statement on “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust”, which was amended and adopted by a two-thirds vote (678-338) by the eleventh biennial Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA on August 19, 2009 in Minneapolis, go to this link.

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