• After Tropical Storm Noel left 116 people dead, the ELCA sent $25,000 through Action By Churches Together for emergency relief in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Flooding, landslides and debris damaged crops, caused power losses and made roads impassable, said Belletech Deressa, ELCA director for international development and disaster response. Noel also affected more than 1 million people in Mexico. The ELCA provided $50,000 for food, medicine, supplies and community organizing through Amextra, its partner in Mexico.
|Sanday Pranadu cleans a treasured photo of her child Sadaru Randi, who drowned when the 2004 tsunami destroyed her family’s home in Matara, Sri Lanka. Her child Saumi Thisamya (sleeping, above) was born since the disaster. Their new home is one of several built by the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka , with support from ELCA partner Action By Churches Together .|
• On Dec. 8 in Nanjing, China, The Amity Foundation
celebrated its production of more than 50 million Bibles. An ELCA
partner, the Chinese Christian agency began printing Bibles in June 1988. At presstime, Amity had printed 59 million Bibles and was ready to produce more for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The The Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestants and the China Christian Council plan to provide free Bibles and church services during the games to participants.
listed Lutheran World Relief
as one of its top 100 highly rated charities in 2007. To be on the list, organizations must ensure that 75 percent or more of their annual budget goes to program services. Organizations must also operate efficiently and transparently. LWR
spends 92.5 percent of expenses on relief and development work in 35 countries.
• During the violence following the Dec. 27 presidential vote in the Republic of Kenya, ELCA
and Lutheran World Federation
leaders called for peace. At presstime more than 300 people had been killed in the violence, and upward of 75,000 had fled their homes. According to the Associated Press
, a Lutheran church in Nairobi’s Kiberi slum was burned by protesters. The ELCA
sent an initial $25,000 for emergency relief efforts and reported that its missionaries in Kenya are safe. “We pray that all parties will work toward a peaceful resolution of the post-election crisis in Kenya,” said Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop
• The Norwegian Lutheran Mission
distanced itself from the Church of Norway after the latter’s Nov. 16 decision to accept homosexuals in registered partnerships as priests, deacons or catechists. The 50,000-member NLM
is the country’s largest mission agency but has never been officially part of the Church of Norway
, although most its members also belong to the denomination. The group has 200 missionaries working in churches and related organizations in 11 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. NLM
General Secretary Ola Tulluan said the group was “studying various ways of caring for” those leaving the Church of Norway
• On Dec. 8 the Diocese of San Joaquin in central California voted to leave the 2.4-million-member Episcopal Church
. Clergy approved the move 70-12 and lay leaders by 103-10. The diocese disagrees with the church’s decision to uphold the Diocese of New Hampshire
’s consecration of V. Gene Robinson, a gay man in a committed same-sex relationship. Episcopal Presiding Bishop
Katharine Jefferts Schori said: “We deeply regret [San Joaquin’s] unwillingness or inability to live within the historical Anglican understanding of comprehensiveness.” Diocesan leaders plan to align with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of South America
. “The decision ... is the culmination of the Episcopal Church’s failure to heed the repeated calls for repentance ... and for the cessation of false teachings,” said San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield. At presstime, Episcopal dioceses in Pittsburgh and Fort Worth, Texas, had taken preliminary votes to leave the church.
• In the wake of an October 2007 vote by Costa Ricans to approve their country’s free-trade agreement with the U.S., the Lutheran Costarican Church
called upon those voting no to stay together. The referendum passed by 51.5 percent, paving the way for free-trade agreement-related bills scheduled for parliamentary consideration by the end of February 2008. Melvin Jimenez, church president, called for investigation of reported voting irregularities, including claims that public funds were used to campaign for the legislation.
• The (Lutheran) Church of Sweden told its government in December that same-sex couples should be allowed to hold commitment ceremonies in church but that these should not be called “marriages.” A church statement said “marriage and (same-sex) partnerships are equivalent forms of unions. Therefore the Church of Sweden’s central board says yes to the [Swedish government’s] proposal to join the legislation for marriages and partnerships into a single law. ... The word ‘marriage’ should, however, only be used for the relationship between a woman and a man.” Sweden has allowed same-sex civil unions since 1995. The Church of Sweden has offered same-sex blessings since January 2007.
• Last December, Lutheran World Federation
General Secretary Ishmael Noko called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to conclude a peace treaty by the end of 2008. Noko said the deadline was “incredibly ambitious [but] entirely necessary.” LWF
church bodies will accompany the negotiations, which began Dec. 12, 2007, “with constant and fervent prayers,” he said. Noko affirmed the LWF
’s commitment to working with other faith communities in the region to “counter despair and desperation.”