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For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38-39
Hurricane Harvey, one of the most powerful storms to hit the United States in years, made landfall last night, threatening millions of our neighbors in Texas and Louisiana with heavy rain, wind and rising tides.
The National Hurricane Center called the storm's effects "life-threatening, devastating and catastrophic" and predicted long periods of rain and flooding, along with massive power outages. While many have evacuated, significant damage is still expected, and thousands of people may be housed in shelters for extended periods of time.
We have an opportunity to accompany our neighbors during and after this disaster, in Jesus Christ's name.
While the storm is not over, you can help now. Gifts designated for "Hurricane Response - United States" will be used in full until the response is complete to help disaster survivors recover and rebuild.
Stay connected to the latest events and our response to this and other disasters through our Facebook page. Join me in prayer and partnership, and use this bulletin insert in your congregation to help spread the word. You can find additional resources for worship here.
The Rev. Daniel Rift
Director, ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
From Persecution To Witness By Elizabeth Eaton,
Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
For many months now people have been asking for some kind of statement about the persecution of Christians around the world. It seems to be a straight-forward issue. Christians are suffering in Iraq and Syria, in Nigeria and Egypt. Palestinian Christians encounter intense pressure. Christians in some parts of India are threatened. Some would even claim that U.S. Christians are under siege. Atrocities committed against Christians by the Islamic State, Boko Haram, al-Shabab and others are regularly in the news. We hear that more Christians have been martyred in recent years than in the first three centuries of the Christian movement.
Each circumstance of violence against Christians is deeply painful. There are brothers and sisters around the world whose lives are part of the passion of Christ. People are targeted in some countries because they are Christians. But this is a complex issue. Are Christians suffering and dying as witnesses to the faith? Yes. But in many places interreligious conflict has been used as a calculated pretext for political gain. A narrative of religion vs. religion, or religion vs. society, is an effective way of generating support for one’s cause. And, regrettably, suspicion and fear of the “other” leads to intolerance and discrimination.
The persecution of Christians is not new. Martyrs have existed since the beginning of the
church. Stephen was martyred with the consent of Paul, who was martyred by the Roman
Empire. Paul quoted the psalms, writing: “For your sake we are being killed all the day
long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered” (Romans 8:36).
Outrage is a natural reaction to beheadings and crucifixions. The instinct to strike back is understandable. Many Lutherans accept that in a broken world deadly force might be needed. Revenge, however, is not an option for a Christian.
I pray that none of you ever suffers violence for the faith, but every generation has faced hostility. German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “To endure the cross is not a tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ.”
“Martyr” is a Greek word that means “witness,” “to give testimony.” A witness can also be a symbol that testifies a promised action has been accomplished. When we speak about the persecution of Christians, the real question is: “What will be our witness?”
Here is a story about how some Lutherans in Ethiopia answered that question. It happened in one of our companion synods. Some Muslims burned down a church, thinking they were attacking Roman Catholics. Instead, they burned down a Lutheran church by mistake. They were arrested and sent to jail. In that region it’s the responsibility of families to take care of prisoners’ hygiene and food. Instead, members of the Lutheran church asked authorities if they could dig the prisoners’ latrines and feed them. That was their witness in the face of persecution.
Christians aren’t the only ones being targeted and persecuted. More Muslims have reportedly been killed by the Islamic State than any other group. Our witness must be as peacemakers and as defenders of religious minorities in our country and around the world. We must be the ones who speak out when entire religions are falsely characterized by the actions of extremists. We would not accept Christianity being defined by the Ku Klux Klan or the Christian Identity movement. We should not define entire communities by the distortion of to their religion.
The cross is God’s visual symbol that a promised action has been accomplished. It is God’s stake in the sand. It is God’s witness to the truth that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).
CHICAGO (Sept. 4, 2017) – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has issued the following statement in response to the Trump administration's announcement about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
"As we journey together through the time God has given us, may God give us the grace of a welcoming heart and an overflowing love for the new neighbors among us" –ELCA social message, "Immigration" (1997).
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. We pray today for those who will suffer undue repercussions due to the end of this program. As Lutherans, we regard the family as an indispensable social institution and stand firmly against policies that cause the separation of families.
As we lament this change in policy, we call on members of Congress to pass long-overdue legislation to protect young people brought to the U.S. as children, also known as Dreamers. Our churches, our schools, our communities and the country are enhanced by their presence and contributions. It is time that our immigration policy reflects their gifts to all of us.
- - - 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
In light of recent public events and conversation, it is important to remember the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) rejects all forms of hatred or discrimination. This includes employment discrimination against the transgender community, as stated in "Gender Identity Discrimination,"a policy resolution that was adopted by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
"As church together, it's now more important than ever for us not only to pray, but also stand beside all who are facing many forms of prejudice," stated Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. "Transgender individuals should not be denied the opportunity to participate in our armed forces. We should honor the courage and sacrifice of all members of our military regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation and join those who serve in upholding the respect and dignity of each person."
The ELCA has repeatedly spoken against discrimination in law or policy related to sexual orientation or gender identity. The policy resolution, adopted by the Churchwide Assembly in 2013 – the highest legislative body of the church – instructed the presiding bishop to communicate public support for actions that prohibit "employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity" and encouraged all ELCA synods, congregations and members to do the same. Additionally, as a church, we have committed our support to those whose vocation is in the military ("For Peace in God's World," 1995).
The ELCA is a church that belongs to Christ and Christ's church universal, where there is a place for everyone. The call of Christ's people today is to celebrate the diversity of God's creative work and embrace all people in the spirit of love, regardless of race or ethnicity, economic status or gender.
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. Visit us at ELCA.org.
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), stands against all forms of hatred and
discrimination. The church believes that cultural, ethnic and racial
differences should be seen and celebrated as what God intends them to be—blessings
rather than means of oppression and discrimination.
The ELCA’s social statement “Freed in Christ: Race,
Ethnicity and Culture” states: “Racism—a mix of power, privilege, and
prejudice—is sin, a violation of God’s intention for humanity. The resulting
racial, ethnic, or cultural barriers deny the truth that all people are God’s
creatures and, therefore, persons of dignity. Racism fractures and fragments
both church and society.”
The social statement,
adopted by the ELCA 1993 Churchwide Assembly, calls on the church to make
confession for complicity, name the spiritual crisis at the roots, commit to
change and make pledges to public witness, advocacy and action to confront
“We recognize that
the kind of violence we witnessed in Charlottesville last weekend is very real
and affects all of us,” said ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton. “We need
to stand up firmly against racism and anti-Semitism, show up for and advocate
with others. Jesus, who makes visible those who are invisible, is already
there. We need to show up, and we need to listen in each of our communities.”
The ELCA is a church
that belongs to Christ and Christ’s church universal, where there is a place
for everyone. The job of Christ’s people today is to celebrate the
diversity of God’s creative work and embrace all people in the spirit of love,
whatever race or ethnicity, economic status or gender.