The ELCA churchwide offices are looking a bit brighter these days. Synod donations are arriving for the ELCA stained-glass window project. Initiated in 1995 by former bishop Herbert Chilstrom, the project asks synods to donate stained-glass windows to be hung throughout the ELCA offices and chapel. The project is expected to be finished at the end of this year. Synods interested in participating may contact Kris Shafer, project manager, at (800) 638-3522 Ext. 2968.
Representatives from the ELCA and its Board of Pensions presented a plaque to U.S. Rep. Bill Archer, R-Texas, in appreciation of his support of church-related provisions in this year's national minimum wage bill. The Church Alliance, a nondenominational coalition of church pension executives, credits Archer for helping ensure that ordained clergy who serve in places such as hospitals can participate in their denominational pension plans without inadvertently violating tax codes.
"The Lutheran Roots Genealogy Exchange," a new on-line message board sponsored by Aid Association for Lutherans, is available to help Lutherans and others research their family histories. The message board at the AAL web site (www.aal.org) allows people researching their family trees to ask questions, offer tips to others and provide genealogical information.
The ELCA churchwide offices parking lot was home to more than just cars last summer. Half a ton of tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers and other vegetables were harvested from 4-foot-wide wading pools on the top level of the garage. The food was distributed to Chicago food banks. "In just one parking lot of modest size it is possible to produce several tons of food a year," said project organizer Job Ebenezer in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor. "Anyone can do this. Urban agriculture can revolutionize food production in terms of quality and local control."
The ELCA has developed an "African American Lutheran Outreach Strategy" with the blessing of the African American Lutheran Association. "This is an issue of empowerment as opposed to paternalism," said M.L. Minnick Jr., executive director of the ELCA Division for Outreach. "We won't become an inclusive church simply because we say we want to be an inclusive church." The strategy's recommendations range from continued assessment of African American demographics to development of specific strategies for such U.S. cities as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and Dallas.
The church must find ways to reach new audiences in the electronic age, according to several speakers who addressed an ELCA conference on congregations in the 21st century. Speaker Carolyn Knight, assistant professor of homiletics at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, defined evangelism as "a tool for standing with marginalized people," those left out by the larger society. "For people on the margins, the worst has already happened." Ministry among them means abandoning the status quo and taking new risks, she said.
Oakwood Village Retirement & Health Care Community, Madison, Wis., was named one of the nation's top 20 continuing care retirement communities by New Choices: Living Even Better After 50 magazine.
A bishop of the Episcopal Church, Douglas Theuner of New Hampshire, was elected to the board of directors of Lutheran Social Services of New England. He is the first non-Lutheran to serve on the board in the agency's history. His election comes just before this summer's consideration of a Concordat of Agreement between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church.
Presiding Bishop H. George Anderson received an honorary doctorate from The General Seminary of the Episcopal Church, New York.
Religious services held at the U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego are led by two ELCA women. Karla Seyb-Stockton, one of the country's few female military chaplains, conducts the Christian services, assisted by Laurie Line, who is preparing to enter seminary.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers