The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Topics range from malaria to refugees

Synods also discuss justice, peace in the Middle East and immigration reform

Mission and justice issues took center stage at synod assemblies this spring and summer. Of the synods reporting in by presstime, discussions focused on the ELCA Malaria Campaign, peace in the Middle East, immigration reform, refugees and more.

Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod
May 11-12, 2012

• Resolved to publicly denounce the violence of human trafficking and endorsed the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

Paul F. Heykes<BR><BR>Karen Zutz Rendall,
Karen Zutz Rendall, chaplain of the Homme Home for the Aging in Wittenberg, Wis., ties a fleece blanket for homeless students in the Green Bay School District. Members of the East Central Synod of Wisconsin made 409 blankets over the two days of its assembly.

Grand Canyon Synod
May 30-June 1, 2012
Las Vegas

• Affirmed the process of exploring a merger between Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, Calif., and California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks.

• Endorsed the ELCA Malaria Campaign, challenging its members to support the effort.

• Concluded that the Arizona SB 1070 Immigration Law is inconsistent with collective Christian beliefs and is harmful to the needs of Arizona, exhorting members to advocate for immigration reform that is "comprehensive, fair, humane, compassionate, and which safeguards the unity of families."

Greater Milwaukee Synod
May 31-June 2, 2012
Waukesha, Wis.

• Endorsed the 11X15 Campaign for Safer and Healthier Communities, urging congregational members to participate in the effort's opportunities. Wisdom, a network of congregation-based justice organizations in Wisconsin, initiated the campaign to reduce the state's prison population by 11,000 by 2015.

Lower Susquehanna Synod
May 31-June 2, 2012
Grantham, Pa.

• Gave its support to developing new Latino ministry partnerships in the synod through prayer, advocacy and earmarking 40 percent of the grants from the congregational mission fund to such initiatives.

• Commended the Peace Not Walls Campaign, an ELCA churchwide strategy focused on contributing to peace with justice in the Middle East. Suggested that congregations study the issues in the Middle East; pray and reach out to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land; and, if pilgrimages are being arranged, to visit biblical sites, meet with both Israelis and Palestinians, and learn from Lutherans living in that land today.

Delaware-Maryland Synod
May 31-June 1, 2012
Ocean City, Md.

• Encouraged its congregations to study the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which extends legal protection for civil marriage to all couples in Maryland. Asked the synod to offer forums so members can study the issues involved in light of the ELCA social statement "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust."

• Affirmed Lutheran Campus Ministry, stating that until 2018 any percentage budget decrease for this ministry would not be larger than the percentage decrease in the synod's budget from the previous year.

• Emphasized the importance of depression awareness and counseling for clergy.

• Urged congregations to enact a child protection policy, which would include background checks and child abuse protection training.

• Established the third Sunday of Easter as Disability Awareness Sunday.

• Called upon Congress and U.S. President Barack Obama to support the Uniting American Families Act, which would enact "inclusive, comprehensive immigration reform legislation that ends the long-standing discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender immigrant families."

• Committed to raising $300,000 by 2015 to promote the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

South Carolina Synod
May 31-June 2, 2012
Columbia, S.C.

• Asked that the Lutheran Association of Christian Educators be uplifted by congregations as a "key organization to join through membership" so as to strengthen support for churches and build networking within synods.

• Participated in "Live Discipleship Experiences" where they did volunteer service, learned about prison ministry and military chaplaincy, toured a seminary campus and more.

Southwest California Synod
June 1-2, 2012
Glendale, Calif.

• Urged its schools, congregations and members to help raise $70,000 to assist the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

• Suggested the synod back the 1,000 Days Movement, which will aid in the effort to stop malnutrition in young children worldwide.

• Encouraged its congregations and members to contact their elected officials, urging them to give "moral priority to programs that protect the life and dignity of poor and vulnerable people" and to "review and consider tax revenues, military spending and entitlements in the search for reduced deficits but not at the expense of vulnerable poor people."

Western North Dakota Synod
June 1-2, 2012
Minot, N.D.

• Met under the theme "Missionary Me?" considering how to fully embrace God's invitation to be missionaries in their communities, in the Central African Republic (companion synod program) and around the world.

• Donated $10,500 from its worship offering and Flood of Love T-shirt quilt auction to assist in rebuilding congregations affected by the Minot flooding in 2011.

Metropolitan Chicago Synod

June 1-2, 2012
Tinley Park, Ill.

• Supported the Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act; called upon its congregations and members to welcome, care for and support same-gender couples and their families and to advocate for their legal protection.

• Recommended that a task force be created to examine the synod's financial dealings with area banking institutions with regard to social justice and corporate social responsibility concerns.

• Encouraged congregations to remember in prayer the plight of refugees and to provide opportunities to support the resettlement work of RefugeeOne.

Southeastern Iowa Synod
June 1-2, 2012
Rock Island, Ill.

• Committed to preventing and treating malaria through prayer, advocacy, education and fundraising, encouraging 100 percent participation of congregations in the ELCA Malaria Campaign by the year 2015.

• Suggested that congregations regularly tell their mission stories, expressing gratitude for their support of the mission and ministry of the church and encouraging them to review and renew their plans for mission support.

• Recommitted to fighting the root causes of poverty and hunger.

• Encouraged congregations and individuals to include support for ELCA seminaries in their budgets.

West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod
June 1-2, 2012
Flatwoods, W.Va.

• Voted to make the second Sunday in September (this year Sept. 9) Malaria Sunday in the synod in support of the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

East Central Synod of Wisconsin
June 1-2, 2012
Green Bay, Wis.

• Sought greater participation in the Peace Not Walls Campaign to help bring peace to the Middle East.

• Asked congregations to continue to grow their relationships with their companion churches in the Western Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Southern Africa and to participate in local Global Mission events.

Northeastern Ohio Synod
June 1-2, 2012
Akron, Ohio

• Directed its council to establish a Creation Care Task Force to help congregations deal with issues of climate change.

Nebraska Synod
June 1-2, 2012
Omaha, Neb.

• Raised awareness about the We Do Mission Scholarship Fund to help people participate in synod mission/vision projects. The fund currently totals more than $45,000.

Southeastern Synod
June 1-3, 2012

• Asked the Mountain Electric Co. to find an alternate route for its electric transmission line outside of Camp Lutherock and the Lutherock Natural Area.

• Affirmed the work of the ELCA Washington Office and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service regarding immigration reform.

• Requested that the legislative bodies of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee place an immediate moratorium on the administration of the death penalty until such time that it can be fully prohibited by law in those states.

North Carolina Synod
June 1-3, 2012
Hickory, N.C.

• Directed its council to introduce a resolution to the ELCA Church Council that instructs the ELCA Washington Office and the Lutheran Office for World Community to support the U.S. government in creating and implementing policies that assure the religious freedom of the Montagnard people in Vietnam.

Montana Synod
June 1-3, 2012
Billings, Mont.

• Committed to supporting the ELCA Malaria Campaign over the next three years.

Northwest Synod of Wisconsin

June 2-3, 2012
Eau Claire, Wis.

• Committed to continue as partners in the healing ministry of Jesus by preventing and treating malaria. Raised more than $1,400 for the ELCA Malaria Campaign through an auction of banners made by congregations prior to the assembly.

• Supported the 11X15 Campaign for safer, healthier communities.

Central States Synod
June 7-9, 2012
Lindsborg, Kan.

• Recognized the Lutheran Association of Christian Educators as an organization with a fully vested interest in supporting Christian educators in the ELCA.

• Called for support of Camp Tomah Shinga, a Lutheran outdoor ministry.

La Crosse Area Synod
June 8-10, 2012
Decorah, Iowa

• Challenged its members and congregations, through its Generous Love – Generous Lives initiative, to increase their financial generosity, investment in community ministries and support of synodical missions by at least 1 percent in 2013.

• Set a goal of raising at least $150,000 for the ELCA Malaria Campaign by the year 2015.

New England Synod
June 8-10, 2012
Springfield, Mass.

• Proposed that the synod raise $77,000 per year for three years for the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

• Challenged its membership to raise their annual giving to ELCA World Hunger.

• Passed a resolution in support of prevention of and treatment for depression in rostered leaders.

Northeastern Iowa Synod
June 8-10, 2012
Waverly, Iowa

• Called on congregations to offer support to the Lutheran Student Center at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, through renewed awareness of the ministry, prayer, publicity and financial support.

Southwestern Minnesota Synod
June 8-9, 2012
St. Peter, Minn.

• Indefinitely postponed voting on a resolution to express grave concern regarding a proposed Minnesota state constitutional amendment that would define marriage as "only a union of one man and one woman."

Central-Southern Illinois Synod
June 7-9, 2012
Springfield, Ill.

• Encouraged congregations to celebrate and support campus ministry, in particular on one Sunday a year.

• Held forums regarding the 2013 budget, youth ministry networking and the ELCA proposed social statement on criminal justice.

Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod
June 7-9, 2012
Greenville, Pa.

• Participated in workshops and Kindness in Action service projects.

• Held a memorial service where congregations submitted names of the saints who died during the past year for remembrance.

Indiana-Kentucky Synod
June 7-9, 2012
Covington, Ky.

• Recognized the Lutheran Association of Christian Educators, urging congregations to join the group.

• Referred to its Malaria Initiative Team a resolution calling on the ELCA to insist upon discontinuation of the use of antibiotic protocols that promote rapid development of resistant strains of malaria.

Allegheny Synod
June 7-9, 2012
Altoona, Pa.

• Empowered its council and committees to commit to "a budgetary process, which does not start from previous budgets" but focuses on mission and ministry; sought guidelines for congregations to implement this mission-minded approach to budgeting.

Northern Illinois Synod
June 15-16, 2012
Rock Island, Ill.

• Encouraged congregations to participate in the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

• Memorialized the 2013 Churchwide Assembly to review and possibly revise the ELCA's guiding documents concerning admission to communion.

Upstate New York Synod
June 8-9, 2012
Rochester, N.Y.

• Welcomed Bishop Stephen Dube; his wife, Effina Dube; and General Secretary M.M. Dube from its companion synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe. Stephen Dube thanked the assembly for its assistance in combating HIV/AIDS and malaria.

South Dakota Synod
June 8-9, 2012
Sioux Falls, S.D.

• Met under the theme "Wrapped in Christ's Love," celebrating ministries that live this out day to day with quilts, baptismal blankets and prayer shawls.

• Passed two resolutions to change the process of electing a bishop for the synod.

Virginia Synod
June 8-10, 2012
Salem, Va.

• Opposed asking the ELCA Churchwide Assembly to make constitutional changes to allow a "new category of congregation membership for those members who disagree by faith or conscience with decisions of the churchwide organization."

• Defeated a resolution asking its bishop to send a letter of encouragement to the Roman Catholic dioceses of Arlington and Richmond regarding the Affordable Care Act.

Southern Ohio Synod
June 9, 2012
Cincinnati, Ohio

• Voted to ask the ELCA presiding bishop and Church Council to contact President Barack Obama and Congress, urging the U.S. and its allies to work with the leaders of Iran for a peaceful resolution to the conflict over nuclear proliferation.

Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod
June 14-15, 2012
Greenville, Pa.

• Recognized and encouraged membership in the Lutheran Association of Christian Educators.

• Urged its congregations, administrative offices, outdoor ministry facility, members and affiliates to offer a public witness of stewardship by reducing their energy consumption.

Upper Susquehanna Synod
June 15-16, 2012
Selinsgrove, Pa.

• Voted to create a task force to discuss the justice issues surrounding the natural gas industry and to make available resources to address the complexities of horizontal slickwater hydraulic fracturing; memorialized the 2013 Churchwide Assembly to create its own task force on this subject.

Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod
June 15-16, 2012
Reading, Pa.

• Announced that Hope Lutheran Church, Reading, will be the setting of a Christmas special produced by Odyssey Networks, which will air Christmas Eve on CBS.


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February issue


Embracing diversity