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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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The U.S. National Council of Churches and community groups began a $15 million campaign to register 2 million low-income voters by November. "It's in our best interest to register as many citizens as possible, especially the poorest, in order to ensure that a faithful democracy is really addressing the needs of our lowest income citizens," said NCC General Secretary Bob Edgar. According to U.S. census data, voter registration is directly related to income. Of Americans earning less than $5,000, about 53 percent are registered and 34 percent voted in the 2000 presidential election. Of people earning more than $75,000, 82 percent are registered and 74 percent voted in 2000.

In January, a group within the Episcopal Church, U.S.A., formed the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes to protest the consecration of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire. The network outlined a strategy of widespread disobedience to church law, including seeking "negotiated settlements" over church property and allowing five traditionalist bishops to go outside their dioceses to serve congregations and pastors who are unhappy with more liberal bishops. The network hopes to be recognized as the U.S. Anglican church. Episcopal Church spokesman James Solheim told The Washington Post that the strategy "is going to plunge us into litigation for decades."

•  A U.S. Episcopal delegation was uninvited to the Jan. 25 enthronement ceremony of the archbishop of Uganda's Anglican Church. The Ugandan church based its decision on the U.S. church's consecration of an openly gay bishop. In related news, the Anglican Church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo said it would "disassociate itself from relations" with the Episcopal Church because of its consecration decision. Censure has also come from Anglicans in Southeast Asia, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, the West Indies, Egypt and Swaziland.

•  Hutu rebels are suspected in the Dec. 29 killing of the Vatican ambassador to Burundi. Michael Courty, 58, was shot when his car was ambushed 30 miles from Bujumbura. According to reports, the rebels denied involvement but gave a local Roman Catholic bishop, Simon Ntamwana, 30 days to leave the country. Civil war between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups has left 300,000 dead in the past decade.

•  A Gallup poll says 77 percent of religiously active Americans report satisfaction with their lives, compared with 62 percent of those who don't attend worship. Researchers surveyed 1,000 adult members of churches, synagogues and other faith communities, and 500 nonmembers. The survey also found that people who gave $2,000 or more annually to their faith communities were more likely to be satisfied than those who gave less than $2,000. Income didn't appear to play a role, Gallup researchers said.

•  The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod rejected an invitation to talk with the Lutheran Church-­Missouri Synod about areas of doctrinal disagreement. LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick expressed his disappointment, adding that the three Lutheran groups should be able to share a common witness on such issues as abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research and ordination of women. Currently, the LCMS and ELCA hold formal talks about areas of doctrinal agreement and disagreement.

•  Desmond Tutu, former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, ordained his 40-year-old daughter, Mpho Tutu, Jan. 17 in Alexandria, Va. Mpho told The Washington Post that she originally hesitated to become a pastor, but "it's hard to live with a person who so obviously delighted in what they did and not have something rub off."

•  In May, one Lutheran and two Reformed churches in the Netherlands will become the 2.5 million-member Protestant Church in the Netherlands. The merger follows more than 40 years of unity talks between the Netherlands Reformed Church and the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, and more than 10 years of talks with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Dutch Lutherans received assurances that this new church body could belong to the Lutheran World Federation.

•  The U.S. State Department's 2003 report on religious freedom cites Burma, China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam for "totalitarian and authoritarian attempts to control religious belief or practice." The report cites executions, torture and imprisonment of religious people in North Korea. In the five other countries, people were restricted from religious practice, monitored or harassed for their beliefs. The report also says Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were hostile toward minority religions.

•  ELCA International Disaster Response sent $25,000 to Church World Service and $25,000 to the Middle East Council of Churches to help survivors of a Dec. 26 earthquake in Bam, Iran. The 6.6 quake killed at least 30,000 people and left tens of thousands injured or homeless. ELCA funds helped the groups provide food, shelter, blankets and medical supplies. Lutheran World Relief also sent $25,000 to MECC.

•   In 2003, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) started 82 churches, doubling its goal for 2003 and growing by more than 2 percent. Racial and ethnic minority congregations are a focus. Haitian immigrants started 27 churches. The goal is to plant 1,000 churches between 2000 and 2020. In other denominations, the Episcopal Church hopes to double worship attendance by 2020 and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) hopes to raise $40 million for new churches in the United States and abroad.

•  Mikko Juva, 85, a former Lutheran World Federation president from 1970 to 1977, died Jan. 1 in Turku, Finland. As president, Juva "laid the groundwork for the present understanding of the LWF as a communion of churches," said LWF General Secretary Ishmael Noko. Juva went on to become archbishop of Turku and primate of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland from 1978 to 1982. During the 1960s, he was a professor of church history, served on the Finnish parliament and chaired the country's Liberal Party.

•   Christian leaders in Pakistan threatened to begin protests, citing the nearly 50 Christians killed in the country during the last four years. They asked the government to arrest the killers of a Roman Catholic priest and an evangelical pastor who were assassinated in recent months and to form a judicial commission to investigate the violence. The leaders say violence against Christians in mostly Muslim Pakistan increased since October 2001, when the U.S. launched attacks into Afghanistan.


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August issue

AUGUST issue:

Advice for evangelism

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