ELCA Newshttps://elca.org/News-and-Events/Women's History Month statementhttps://elca.org/News-and-Events/8032https://elca.org/News-and-Events/8032<div class="ExternalClassA33904AB4AC5499593ADD586D55C2FEA"><p><br></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><em>Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand;</em><br><em>&#160;</em><em>and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. </em><br><em>Exodus 15&#58;20 NRSV</em></p><p>&#160;<br>Over the past month, we have observed Women's History Month in the United States, a time for celebrating, honoring and reflecting on the contributions of women to history. At the same time, we are living through the unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic.</p><p>As the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, we give thanks to God for all the faithful women throughout history, named and unnamed, who have shaped our lives of faith. This year in particular, we celebrate 50 years of <a href="https&#58;//www.elca.org/50yearsofordainedwomen?_ga=2.238621312.1033906194.1584543443-706161550.1552512868">Lutheran women being ordained</a> in the United States, and we continue to celebrate 40 years of women of color being ordained and 10 years of LGBTQIA+ people being able to serve openly. </p><p>We also renew our long-standing commitment to engage in the work of gender justice and declare these beliefs in our church's recently adopted <a href="https&#58;//www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Current-Social-Writing-Projects/Women-and-Justice?_ga=2.174659490.1033906194.1584543443-706161550.1552512868">social statement</a> <em>Faith, Sexism, and Justice&#58; A Call to Action</em>. We recognize that women and girls in particular suffer harm and injustice based on sex and gender, including the scourge of gender-based violence addressed in our ELCA <a href="https&#58;//www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Messages/Gender-Violence">social message</a> and through our participation in the World Council of Churches' <a href="https&#58;//www.oikoumene.org/en/get-involved/thursdays-in-black">Thursdays in Black campaign</a>. </p><p>This year, there are a number of milestones we observe such as the 25th anniversary of the <a href="https&#58;//www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2015/01/beijing-declaration">Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action</a> to advance women's rights; the 20th anniversary of <a href="https&#58;//www.un.org/womenwatch/osagi/wps/">UN Security Council Resolution 1325, on women, peace and security</a>; the 10th anniversary of the establishment of UN Women and the fifth anniversary of the global <a href="https&#58;//www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/">Sustainable Development Goals</a>, which include a cross-cutting gender perspective and help support our intersectional approach to gender justice with, for instance, racial and economic justice. As Lutherans, we celebrate these milestones even as we lament the slow pace of progress and the gaps that remain. Our work together, and with ecumenical and interreligious partners and other stakeholders, must and will continue.</p><p>As we reflect on all that has been achieved by women and for women, let us recall the vision of Miriam, who led all the women in praising God. As we celebrate the women who have made history in our church and society, let us honor them by working for gender justice until all people experience abundant life and flourishing, as God intended. </p><p>God's blessings,<br>The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop</p><p>&#160;<br>- - -<br> <strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; 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.<br> <br></p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Candice Hill Buchbinder<br> Public Relations Manager<br> 773-380-2877<br> Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org<br> <br></p><p><br></p></div>03/31/2020Response to COVID-19 from ELCA presiding bishophttps://elca.org/News-and-Events/8031https://elca.org/News-and-Events/8031<div class="ExternalClassB6CC0FF167A44B95B4E806BE9ECDFDFD"><p>​Dear church,</p><p>The last couple of weeks have been trying ones for everyone across this church. Our synods, congregations and ministries are facing challenges that they’ve never faced before. Being church together means more now than ever before. </p><p>The churchwide office is launching a comprehensive Covid-19 response across the ELCA beginning today. We have three new approaches designed to provide several levels of support for our most vulnerable congregations and ministries. These three approaches are Daily Bread Grants, Here to Serve, and the Covid-19 Response Appeal. <br></p><p><strong>DAILY BREAD GRANTS</strong></p><p>ELCA World Hunger is announcing the immediate launch of Daily Bread Matching Grants. Through these grants, ELCA congregations can raise funds for their feeding ministries using an online fundraising platform and will receive a grant of $500 from ELCA World Hunger. Up to 100 Daily Bread Matching Grants are available for ELCA congregations on a first-come, first-served basis, with the possibility of more grants becoming <span>&#160;</span>available in the future. Apply or donate <a href="https&#58;//support.elca.org/site/TR?fr_id=1360&amp;pg=entry">here</a>.<br></p><p><strong>H</strong><strong>ERE TO SERVE</strong></p><p>The churchwide organization is inherently a resource in support of the members, congregations, synods and partners of the ELCA. During this time, Domestic Mission will pivot to a project-based, service-oriented structure so this church knows we are here to serve. By the first week of April, we will launch a chat function on ELCA.org along with an 800 hotline for prayer, support and questions that will be answered by our staff. As soon as these channels are live, we will let you know.<br></p><p><strong>COVID-19 RESPONSE APPEAL</strong></p><p>It’s more important now than ever to support our church across the country through these difficult times. We will begin to raise funds to support our congregations, ministries and synods. This effort will launch the week of March 30 via email and social media with a special form online to donate. <br></p><p>In addition to our new three-pronged response, our work continues in providing and updating resources on <a href="https&#58;//elca.org/publichealth">ELCA.org/publichealth</a>. We are also still at work in the world. Our global mission work continues and grows in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are working with our global companions to provide support where we can. Learn more about that <a href="https&#58;//www.elca.org/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response/Our-Impact/Coronavirus?_ga=2.24061311.458808384.1585254829-1670894185.1564410886">here</a>.<br></p><p>I am proud to say that even during challenging times, we continue our service in living out the mission of this church&#58; <em><span style="background&#58;white;color&#58;#333333;">Together in Jesus Christ we are freed by grace to live faithfully, witness boldly and serve joyfully.</span></em><em><span style="background&#58;white;color&#58;#333333;"><br></span></em></p><p><span style="background&#58;white;color&#58;#333333;">Peace and be well,</span></p><p><span style="background&#58;white;color&#58;black;"><font color="#008000"></font><font style="background-color&#58;transparent;"></font>The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton<br> Presiding Bishop<br> </span><span>Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</span></p><p>&#160;</p> <p><br></p></div>03/27/2020An invitation to join in the Lord's Prayerhttps://elca.org/News-and-Events/8030https://elca.org/News-and-Events/8030<div class="ExternalClassA3CF57267892470B83FD1008D016E4B7"><p>Dear Church,</p><p>The Evangelical Lutheran Church America, as part of the body of Christ, is united with other Christians in our communities, in our country and around the world. This unity takes many forms, including prayer. </p><p>I am writing to extend an invitation we have received from Pope Francis, through the <a href="https&#58;//www.lutheranworld.org/news/united-lords-prayer-across-globe?fbclid=IwAR1LEclm7mhbkzcM4jfIvM2AcCuOtDIx1Ou1iwVcKXi-sl0IK9ftuegW7fo">Lutheran World Federation</a> and the <a href="https&#58;//www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/global-lords-prayer-united-for-humanity">World Council of Churches</a>, to join in the Lord's Prayer tomorrow, March 25, at noon your local time. Please share this invitation through your synods, congregations, ecumenical communities and individual networks. </p><p>During the global pandemic of COVID-19, the church can and should give witness to our unity in Christ and express our deep concern for God's creation. Despite social distancing, through prayer we are able to enter together into the presence of Christ and the communion of believers. By praying the prayer that Christ taught us, we are united with followers of Jesus in every time and in every place. When the church gathers in this way, we can be assured that Christ, our eternal hope, is present in the midst of suffering.</p><p>In Christ,</p>The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton<p>Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America<br></p><p>- - -</p><p><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands.,&quot; 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.<br> <br></p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Candice Hill Buchbinder<br> 773-380-2877<br> Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org<br> &#160;</p><p>&#160;</p><p><br></p></div>03/24/2020ELCA Church Council and ELCA Conference of Bishops hold first-ever multiday joint meetinghttps://elca.org/News-and-Events/8029https://elca.org/News-and-Events/8029<div class="ExternalClass4701D8F4624A4C6FB08A83DF4CB0807E"><p>​ITASCA — For the first time in the history of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the ELCA Church Council and the ELCA Conference of Bishops held a joint meeting over multiple days. The purpose of the meeting was to nurture their relationship and foster dialogue around shared work that guides this church into the future to which God is calling it. </p><p>During the historic meeting, held March 6-8 at the Eaglewood Resort in Itasca, Ill., the council and conference received and participated in the following&#58; </p><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Reports from the ELCA presiding bishop, secretary, treasurer and vice president.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Conversations on congregational vitality and anti-racism and authentic diversity.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Discussions around what it means to be a sanctuary church and potential future guidance for this church.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Update on Mission Support experiments in synods. Mission Support is the financial offering from congregations shared with synods and the churchwide organization.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Update on the ELCA Innovation Lab.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Conversation on health care benefit plans.</li></ul><p>The meeting also included time for the council and the conference to hold their separate annual spring meetings.</p><p>In key action, the council, which serves as the ELCA board of directors and legislative authority between churchwide assemblies, voted to remove the document &quot;Vision and Expectations&quot; from use in the ELCA. In its action the council affirmed that &quot;<a href="https&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Definitions_and_Guidelines_2020.pdf?_ga=2.216850975.804131654.1583427426-2025289056.1557504087">Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline</a>&quot; remains the document that describes the grounds by which officers, rostered ministers, congregations and members of congregations may be subject to discipline according to the practice of this church. Candidates for rostered ministry are also held to the disciplinary standards stated in the document. </p><p>The council requested that all relevant documents and manuals, including candidacy and mobility documents, will be updated by June 1, 2020, to reflect the role of &quot;Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline&quot; in defining the grounds for discipline.</p><p>In other action the council approved nonsubstantive edits to &quot;Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline&quot; and &quot;Manual of Policies and Procedures for the Management of the Rosters of the ELCA,&quot; removing references to &quot;Vision and Expectations&quot; and addressing changes to the rosters and entrance rite adopted by the 2016 and 2019 ELCA churchwide assemblies; changes to the law related to same-gender marriage; and changes to the Constitution, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions of the ELCA. </p><p>The council also requested that the Domestic Mission unit engage in conversation with the Conference of Bishops at its fall 2020 meeting and the Church Council at its November 2020 meeting to consider the goals and purpose behind a new aspirational document.</p><p>&#160;<br>In other business, the council&#58;</p><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Directed Portico Benefit Services to take actions necessary to offer at least two health plans that have 78-82% actuarial value for sponsoring organizations to offer and for members to enroll in, beginning with the 2021 plan year.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Approved a church council designated fund with excess funds from fiscal year 2018 and fiscal year 2019 to be released to fund any budget shortfall in future years.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Approved a timeline presented by the Domestic Mission unit for this church's response to the global crisis of climate change. This is in response to a recommendation by the Conference of Bishops brought to the council at its fall 2019 meeting. <br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Authorized the executive committee to elect trustees to fill, until the November 2020 meeting, vacancies on the board of trustees of the ELCA Foundation.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Approved Portico's discontinuation of collection of a surcharge that was being used to fund the Benefits Contribution Trust.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Elected members to the boards of directors of four ELCA seminaries.<br></li></ul><ul style="list-style-type&#58;disc;"><li>Expressed thanks to the Conference of Bishops for gathering with the Church Council and sharing its knowledge, experience and perspectives. </li></ul><p>During its meeting, the Conference of Bishops approved a plan to alter the current assignment process for candidates for rostered ministry. Potential benefits of the new plan include being able to create a more streamlined process that is localized, encouraging synods to take responsibility for their own candidates. The approved plan will be designed as a three-year experiment and will uphold the practice of encouraging persons newly entranced into the candidacy process to consider serving across the church. The current system of assignment for ELCA candidates will remain in place through September 2020. A plan of implementation is being drafted by a task force and will be finalized at the fall 2020 meeting of the Conference of Bishops.</p><p>The conference also received a 10-year review of the role of director for evangelical mission. The directors are churchwide staff who coordinate the partnership between the ELCA's churchwide ministries and its 65 synods. The bishops decided to better focus the role of the directors around helping foster congregational vitality and improving communication between synodical bishops, directors for evangelical mission and staff of the churchwide organization. </p><p>&#160;<br>- - -</p><p><strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands.,&quot; 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.<br> <br></p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Candice Hill Buchbinder<br> 773-380-2877<br> Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org<br> &#160;</p><p><br></p></div>03/13/2020ELCA presiding bishop issues pastoral message in response to COVID-19 pandemichttps://elca.org/News-and-Events/8028https://elca.org/News-and-Events/8028<div class="ExternalClassCCFD304C4F09488BB997F461EEAD0AD5"><p>​CHICAGO – In her message to this church about the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), said that even though &quot;this is a time of disruption. It is also a time to live and act as faithful people of God.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Circumstances now are forcing a change in our behavior,&quot; said Eaton. &quot;But let's see this as an opportunity for us to pause and reflect, to breathe, and to think about what it means to be the body of Christ. How do we stay connected when gathering is discouraged? How do we care for our neighbor?&quot;</p><p><a href="https&#58;//www.elca.org/publichealth">Watch</a> Bishop Eaton's message and find resources that offer guidance for congregations and members.<br></p><p>- - -<br> <strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; 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.<br> <br></p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Candice Hill Buchbinder<br> Public Relations Manager<br> 773-380-2877<br> Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org<br> <br></p><p><br></p></div>03/12/2020ELCA Church Council votes to remove “Vision and Expectations”https://elca.org/News-and-Events/8027https://elca.org/News-and-Events/8027<div class="ExternalClass7296E351E9B646A98400FE6643B2E887"><p>​CHICAGO — The ELCA Church Council voted today to remove &quot;Vision and Expectations&quot; from use in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Disciplinary standards for rostered ministers are outlined in &quot;<a href="https&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Definitions_and_Guidelines_2020.pdf?_ga=2.90455258.1519098464.1583599948-1670894185.1564410886">Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline</a>.&quot; The council encourages people to read the document, which states&#58;</p><p>&quot;As an expression of its life in the gospel of Jesus Christ, this church embraces disciplinary processes of counseling, admonition and correction, with the objective of forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Simultaneously, out of deep concern for effective extension of the gospel, this church remains alert to the high calling of discipleship in Jesus Christ.&quot;</p><p>Vision and Expectations has been misused as a juridical document and continues to be a source of great pain for many. There is strong desire to focus on faithfulness to Christ and the gospel grounded in the fullness of our understanding of God, Scriptures and our confessions through a church that is more welcoming, diverse, inclusive and active in the world, and that continues to examine healthy sexuality from a Christian perspective.</p><p>&quot;Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline&quot; should be distinguished and recognized by the whole church as the document by which leaders are held accountable, as established by section 20.21 in the <a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Constitutions_Bylaws_and_Continuing_Resolutions_of_the_ELCA.pdf?_ga=2.10347964.804131654.1583427426-2025289056.1557504087">ELCA constitution.</a></p><p>Candidates for rostered ministry are held to the standards set forth in &quot;Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline.&quot; All relevant documents and manuals, including candidacy and mobility documents, will be updated by June 1, 2020, to reflect the role of &quot;Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline&quot; in defining the grounds for discipline.<br></p><p>- - -<br> <strong>About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</strong>&#58;<br> The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of &quot;God's work. Our hands,&quot; 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.<br> <br></p><p>For information contact&#58;<br> Candice Hill Buchbinder<br> Public Relations Manager<br> 773-380-2877<br> Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org<br> <br></p><p><br></p></div>03/08/2020