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ELCA News

"As Christ on the cross did not lose his dignity, but in fact revealed himself fully in vulnerability, every human who is being mistreated retains the image of God that confers dignity. A society should not deny a person's dignity for any reason." —ELCA social message "Human Rights," p. 4

On Monday, Sept. 14, I learned of the very disturbing account of human rights violations against immigrant women in custody in the privately run Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga. The center is run by LaSalle Corrections under a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The whistleblower complaint that was filed on Monday by a licensed nurse practitioner revealed a pattern of medically unnecessary hysterectomies and medical neglect that violated women. Too often, the Christian community has given its tacit or explicit consent to acts of gender-based violence.

God holds each of us responsible for the welfare of our neighbor. We therefore condemn these acts of coerced sterilization as a form of gender-based violence. This is especially true when the perpetrators wield significant power and control over women who are at elevated risk of injustice, abuse and violence.

The ELCA acknowledges that "migrants, immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers often suffer more when they are women, girls, or gender non-conforming people" (ELCA social statement Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action). Further, the ELCA urges support for legal reforms, humane policies, and adequate services for migrants, immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, especially those who experience intersecting forms of oppression.

This statement affirms previous ELCA teaching and policy that stress fairness and generosity in responding to newcomers in the United States through the biblical instruction to "welcome the stranger." The ELCA's commitment to U.S. legal and policy reform includes several social-policy resolutions anchored by compassion, justice and wisdom. Those resolutions prioritize addressing the root causes of mass migration, the unification of families, and just, humane enforcement.

As a member of Christ's body, I share in the anguish and outrage evoked by these revelations of abuse and violence. Since Monday, we have learned that at least 17 women have come forward with stories of unwanted medical procedures, including sterilization, which itself carries a significant history of sin in our country against immigrants, people of color, Indigenous women, people with disabilities and many others.

The sin of violence against the bodies of women cannot continue. People of all nations suffer violence inflicted upon them by others for gender-based reasons. We all have a responsibility to speak out against gender-based violence, to ensure that women and men, boys and girls, are safe in worship, at home, in the care of the state—in all places in our societies. That is why the ELCA is actively participating in #ThursdaysinBlack, the World Council of Churches' global ecumenical campaign to end and prevent gender-based violence.

As the ELCA we strongly condemn gender-based violence and violations of human rights wherever they occur. We pray especially for the courageous women who have come forward. We look ahead to the expeditious investigation of these reports by the Department of Homeland Security as urged by members of Congress, to be completed by Friday, Sept. 25, 2020.
 

In Christ,

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

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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 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
 


​CHICAGO — The Rev. Dr. Laura Barbins, Mentor, Ohio, was elected Sept. 12 to serve a six-year term as bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The election took place during an online synod assembly.

Barbins was elected on the fifth ballot, with 171 votes. The Rev. Angela Freeman-Riley, pastor of Bethesda on the Bay Lutheran Church in Bay Village, Ohio, received 148 votes.

The bishop-elect has served as pastor of Celebration Lutheran Church in Chardon since 2001 and adjunct faculty at Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, since 2018. Trinity is one of seven ELCA seminaries. Barbins served as interim pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church in Fairview Park, Ohio, from 1999 to 2000 and associate pastor for youth at Holy Trinity Lutheran in Nashville, Tenn., from 1995 to 1997.

Barbins received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Roanoke College in Salem, Va., in 1990 and a Master of Divinity degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (now United Lutheran Seminary) in Gettysburg, Pa., in 1994. United is one of seven ELCA seminaries. Barbins received a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville in 2004.

The Rev. Abraham D. Allende has served as bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod since 2014.

Information about the Northeastern Ohio Synod is available at neos-elca.org/.

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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
 


​CHICAGO — The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is conducting a survey to collect the experiences and needs of the church for ministry in a multireligious world. The survey is a first step in the development of guidelines for the church as outlined in A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment: A policy statement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, adopted by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The declaration reflects the longtime inter-religious commitments of the church.

The policy statement acknowledged that "there are many pastoral considerations beyond the scope of this declaration, for example, the common reality of multireligious family life. Therefore, the church recognizes the need for the ongoing development of appropriate pastoral aids, including guidelines for inter-religious marriages, pastoral counseling, religious education, and joint prayer services." Recently, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton appointed an ad-hoc committee to undertake the development of such guidelines.

In the survey, issued Sept. 12, respondents are asked questions about their participation in pastoral situations such as inter-religious prayer services, responses to tragedy, social ministry work with partners, and pastoral care for inter-religious couples and families.

"In these challenging times of COVID-19, racism and injustice, our inter-religious partnerships have been as important as ever," Eaton said. "As we seek to live out our inter-religious commitments, all of us are encountering new areas of pastoral need. Participation in this survey will help us to grow as we serve Christ's church together in a multireligious world."

One version of the survey will be emailed directly to active rostered ministers. Another version is available online for participation from ELCA laity, retired rostered minsters, and ecumenical and inter-religious partners. The intention of the survey is to learn from all who participate in ELCA ministries in a multireligious world what their experiences have been, and what guidance and resources they need for the future. The survey will be open for one month, from Sept. 12-Oct. 12.

Click here to participate in the survey. Active rostered ministers should take the survey emailed to them.
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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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