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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
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ELCA News

​Dear church,

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.

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.

DAILY BREAD GRANTS

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  available in the future. Apply or donate here.

HERE TO SERVE

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.

COVID-19 RESPONSE APPEAL

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.

In addition to our new three-pronged response, our work continues in providing and updating resources on ELCA.org/publichealth. 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 here.

I am proud to say that even during challenging times, we continue our service in living out the mission of this church: Together in Jesus Christ we are freed by grace to live faithfully, witness boldly and serve joyfully.

Peace and be well,

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

 


Dear Church,

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.

I am writing to extend an invitation we have received from Pope Francis, through the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches, 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.

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.

In Christ,

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton

Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

- - -

About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
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 "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
 

 


​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.

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:

  • Reports from the ELCA presiding bishop, secretary, treasurer and vice president.
  • Conversations on congregational vitality and anti-racism and authentic diversity.
  • Discussions around what it means to be a sanctuary church and potential future guidance for this church.
  • Update on Mission Support experiments in synods. Mission Support is the financial offering from congregations shared with synods and the churchwide organization.
  • Update on the ELCA Innovation Lab.
  • Conversation on health care benefit plans.

The meeting also included time for the council and the conference to hold their separate annual spring meetings.

In key action, the council, which serves as the ELCA board of directors and legislative authority between churchwide assemblies, voted to remove the document "Vision and Expectations" from use in the ELCA. In its action the council affirmed that "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline" 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.

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 "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline" in defining the grounds for discipline.

In other action the council approved nonsubstantive edits to "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline" and "Manual of Policies and Procedures for the Management of the Rosters of the ELCA," removing references to "Vision and Expectations" 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.

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.

 
In other business, the council:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Authorized the executive committee to elect trustees to fill, until the November 2020 meeting, vacancies on the board of trustees of the ELCA Foundation.
  • Approved Portico's discontinuation of collection of a surcharge that was being used to fund the Benefits Contribution Trust.
  • Elected members to the boards of directors of four ELCA seminaries.
  • Expressed thanks to the Conference of Bishops for gathering with the Church Council and sharing its knowledge, experience and perspectives.

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.

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.

 
- - -

About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
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 "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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