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            CHICAGO (E​LCA) – As the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip further escalates, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, pre​siding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), expressed her profound concern for members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land in a July 17, 2014, letter to that denomination's bishop, the Rev. Dr. Munib A. Younan.

            "Our hearts are heavy as we read about and see images of the violence being inflicted on both Israelis and Palestinians. This suffering and loss of life are inexcusable before God. As followers with you of the Prince of Peace, and as children of God, the Creator and Sustainer of all life, we long for peace and a just resolution to the escalating conflict between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people," Eaton wrote, adding that she is responding directly to Younan's call to participate in interventions and actions "to create hope in a hopeless situation."
            In a July 16 public statement, Younan asked that Christians and "all people of good will intervene in the present situation of unacceptable violence and bloodshed." He said, "If we cannot take steps towards peace, we will continue to be held hostage by extremism. Please do not leave us alone in this moment of struggle. The whole Middle East is boiling. We need your prophetic voice and support so that peace built on justice and reconciliation built on forgiveness will prevail."
            In her letter to Younan, Eaton shared that "we join you in your call for a cessation of all hostilities between Israel and Hamas and a return to direct peace talks to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace based upon a two-state solution and adherence to international human rights and humanitarian law."
            The ELCA presiding b​ishop wrote that she will encourage all ELCA congregations to continue their prayers for peace in the Holy Land, including participation in "a minute of silence" during Sunday worship.
            Although her intended visit to Jordan and the Holy Land scheduled for later this month has been postponed, Eaton told Younan that she looks "forward to our time together." In her letter, she noted the "steadfastness" of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land: "The church's strong witness for coexistence grounded in peace with justice permeates every level of congregational, educational and diaconal service. Our faith is strengthened by knowing how, even in the midst of great difficulties, the Body of Christ is working in Palestine and Jordan for the good of all communities.
            "Along with the witness of your pastors and lay leaders, your witness, Bishop Younan, has strengthened our confidence that peace can indeed be achieved among the two peoples and three religions that share the Holy Land. Your statements, speeches and sermons have been a model for promoting both political and interreligious coexistence, along with your strong support of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, which you helped found," Eaton wrote.
            The ELCA presiding bishop also expressed her gratitude for Younan's capacity to uplift "the voices of moderation and against extremism." She expressed her appreciation in particular for the long-standing work of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land's schools in demonstrating "the importance of education through a curriculum based on peace, nonviolence, peaceful co-existence and the strengthening of civil society for the benefit of all communities."
            Through an ELCA "Peace Not Walls" action alert issued July 17, ELCA members are being encouraged to contact members of U.S. Congress to ask for an end "to the latest round of violence." The alert offers a sample letter which ELCA members can use to contact U.S. Senators and Representatives, featuring elements of Younan's July 16 statement that calls for the "immediate cessation of hostilities in Gaza."
            Younan also calls for the resumption of direct peace talks to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace; critical support for healthcare infrastructure; material support for interreligious cooperation and peacebuilding through the educational and diaconal ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land; and that the global Christian community, including member churches of The Lutheran World Federation, provide necessary assistance to those who have been internally displaced or affected by the current wave of violence and to help the economic and development of the growth of the Palestinian people.
            The ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land are member churches of The Lutheran World Federation – a global communion of 144 churches representing more than 70 million Christians in 79 countries. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.

            The full text of Eaton’s letter is available at http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Letter_To_Bishop_Younan_July_2014.pdf, and the Peace Not Walls action alert at http://www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=63280591&PROCESS=Take+Action. The ELCA has a “Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine” available at http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Engagement_Israel_PalestineSPR09.pdf, and a social message at http://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Messages/Israeli-Palestinian-Conflict.

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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 about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations 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:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper, Manager, Public Relations
773-380-2956 or email
ELCA News: www.ELCA.org/news
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Lutherans
Living Lutheran: www.livinglutheran.com ​​​​​​

     CHICAGO (ELCA) — United in the common mission and purpose of acting boldly on their faith, about 2,000 women will gather in Charlotte, N.C., for the ninth Triennial Gathering of the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA), July 24-27, 2014. Under the theme, “of many generations,” women of all ages will share their faith experiences through worship, featured speakers, workshop sessions and more.
     “With the inspiration of the Spirit and a whole lot of good fun and great music thrown in, lives are changed at the triennial gatherings of Women of the ELCA,” said Linda Post Bushkofsky, executive director, Women of the ELCA. “The gathering can inspire new service in some, career changes in others and advocacy efforts for others. We build community when we gather, and it’s in that community that transformation begins and is sustained in the years to come.”
     “The Women of the ELCA Triennial Gathering represents (an) opportunity to embody my faith in a place where many others are striving to do the same,” said Maria Bouche, who will travel from her home in Oshkosh, Wis., to attend her second Triennial Gathering. “It means I can share what I have experienced at home with people I have never met, which means opportunity to grow. It represents womanhood, sisterhood and all the relationships and identities I have as a woman with a deep sense of faith,” she said.
     Bouche has invited her mother and mother-in-law to join her at the event hoping to “share an incredible experience. I want them to come away with a hands-on experience of what I experience as part of such a woven fabric of faith and women.”
     Featured speakers during the event will initiate morning “chat sessions” to help start conversations among attendees. Speakers include the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop; Diane Jacobson, director of the ELCA Book of Faith Initiative; Elaine Neuenfeldt, executive secretary for Women in Church and Society at The Lutheran World Federation, Geneva; Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest who serves as chaplain at St. Augustine’s chapel at Vanderbilt University, Nashville; and Susan Sparks, pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York, who is also a stand-up comedian.
     “Triennial Gathering speakers are always inspiring,” said Mikki Coles, a member of First Lutheran in San Marco, Texas, who is attending her fourth Triennial Gathering accompanied by her daughter and her mother.
     “The best part is feeling that nobody is a stranger – that you are welcome and accepted exactly as you are. It is an amazing feeling of worshipping and praising in community, and it always leaves me refreshed and ready for what’s next in life,” said Coles.
     For Coles’ mother, Eunice Hanson, the event means “the celebration of an organization of women sharing their faith as only women do.” Hanson, a member of First Lutheran in Vista, Calif., has served as president and treasurer of the ELCA Pacifica Synod women’s organization and is attending her fifth Triennial Gathering.
     “I have been in leadership on the synod level, so coming to this event also means seeing friends from all over the country. I enjoy that,” said Hanson.
     Coles’ daughter, Kylie Contreras, who is attending the Triennial Gathering for first time, said it represents “a chance to connect further with God in fellowship with other women. I keep hearing about how this (event) changed my mom's life, so I am wondering if it will change mine.”
     Service projects during the gathering include the collection of in-kind gifts such as socks and underwear, hygiene items, gift cards and quilt kits for distribution through Lutheran Social Services of the Carolinas and Lutheran World Relief; prayer shawls will be collected for distribution by ministries of the ELCA North Carolina Synod.
     A quilt challenge invited women to create quilts interpreting the ninth Triennial Gathering’s theme. Quilts will be displayed during the event and winners will be chosen.
     Underscoring a commitment to the Women of the ELCA’s health initiative, “Raising Up Healthy Women and Girls,” attendees are invited to participate in the Triennial Gathering’s fourth annual Run, Walk and Roll on July 26. Pledged funds will go toward the health initiative and will also help fund projects in ELCA congregations that focus on creating a positive impact on the emotional, physical and spiritual health of women and girls.
     “The gathering represents the celebration of God’s gifts to Women of the ELCA. We have been blessed with so many generations of women in our lives, in the past, biblical women and a hope for the future in young women and girls,” said Vickie Murph, an outgoing member of the churchwide Women of the ELCA executive board who attends Arise in Christ Lutheran in Donnelsville, Ohio.
     “As an executive board member, the Triennial Gatherings mean so much to me. I have had the opportunity to help shape the direction of this organization’s future. I can renew friendships, make new friends and live out my faith. It has been an honor to serve. I will never forget all of the people that were placed on my path,” said Murph.
     Preceding the Triennial Gathering is the Women of the ELCA Triennial Convention, July 22-24. The convention is the organization’s highest legislative authority with delegates elected by each of the 64 synodical women’s organizations. Significant actions at the convention include elections for president and members of the executive board. Featured speakers include Eaton; Linda Hartke, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, Baltimore; and Emily Fitchpatrick, founder and executive director of On Eagle’s Wings, a ministry for victims of domestic sex trafficking.
 Beth Wrenn, who attends Kure Memorial Lutheran in Kure Beach, N. C., and is immediate past president of Women of the ELCA’s churchwide executive board, said she looks forward to welcoming women to her home state.
     “I attended my first Triennial Convention and Gathering in 1993 in Washington, D.C., and I haven't missed one since. Generations of North Carolina faithful women are thrilled to be hosting this event. It will offer us the opportunity to share with many generations southern hospitality at its best,” she said.
     “The opportunity to meet women from all walks of life, to renew old friendships and to feel the Spirit move among us are some of the things that never change. Each gathering is energizing and renewing to my spirit. I am always reminded of the impact our organization has on the lives of others.” said Wrenn.
     For more information, visit http://www.welcatg.org/about
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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 about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations 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 or Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org
http://www.ELCA.org/news
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Lutherans
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com

            CHICAGO (ELCA) – To learn more about the recent arrival of unaccompanied children into the United States, a group of leaders from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will travel July 16-18 to Texas. Their time there will include visits to children shelters and facilities managed by Lutheran Social Services of the South, based in Austin, Texas, and meetings with ELCA pastors and members to hear about their experiences and response efforts.
            "The holy family was undocumented and fled to Egypt because their lives were threatened by King Herod. The children entering the United States have fled because their lives are in danger. God is their ultimate hope, and we can be a sign of that hope," said the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop.

            ELCA leaders and members are eager "to learn more about what is really happening on the ground and what ELCA members are learning and doing in response," said Eaton. "I'm proud of the work that we are doing as a church."
            According to the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director for ELCA Global Mission, the children arriving in the United States are leaving their home countries to seek protection from drug and sex trafficking, hunger and poverty and other risk factors rendering children vulnerable.
            "For years our companion churches in Central America have been struggling with the problem of growing violence in their societies that has its roots in poverty and inequality. My appeal to United States decision-makers is to respond to this humanitarian crisis in a comprehensive way," said Malpica Padilla, a member of the ELCA group traveling to Texas.
            "Our response must address both the immediate needs of newly arrived migrants here in the United States, as well as critically review our economic and security policies toward the Central American region and consider different approaches than we have in the past," he said.
            "Our compassion should not stop at the border. 'If one member suffers, all suffer together with it.' We need to re-examine the sustainability of our development policies, review trade agreements for their impact on the poorest, rethink our drug policies, promote nonviolent conflict resolution activities and greater respect for human rights, and strengthen domestic child protection systems in Central America," he said, adding that "a change of direction in U.S. foreign policy is needed so that desperate families won't feel a need to run from the many risks associated with allowing their children to journey unaccompanied to this country," said Malpica Padilla.
            Through Lutheran Disaster Response, ELCA members are working with Lutheran church companions and strategic allies, such as Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, to respond to the needs of unaccompanied and migrant children. Financial contributions to Lutheran Disaster Response designated for unaccompanied and migrant children will be used 100 percent to help support efforts that provide services and "uphold the rights of children."
            Based in Baltimore, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services is one of the nation's leaders in welcoming and advocating for refugees and immigrants, working on behalf of the ELCA.
            "I am haunted by this passage from the Gospel of Mark as I prepare my heart for our journey to Texas and the border," said the Rev. Stephen Bouman, executive director of ELCA Congregational and Synodical Mission. "Jesus took a child and placed the child in the midst of his disciples. 'Whoever receives one of these children, receives me.' Today, Jesus points us to thousands of children, placed in the midst of us, apart from families."
            "I expect to see Jesus in Texas. In the way of Jesus, you cannot love people from afar.  We will see the embrace of Jesus that our social ministry organizations, congregations and partners along the border are giving to the children Jesus has placed among us. These children are not a 'cause,' a budget-line item, a threat. They are their own sweet selves seeking safety, welcome (and) hope. Their courage in making this dangerous journey to be among us is a gift," said Bouman. "In the way of Jesus you cannot only love Jesus from afar. Like Mary and Elizabeth and their babies in their womb, sometimes there has to be a visitation."
            Lutheran Social Services of the South, an ELCA affiliate, is the largest provider of children's residential care in Texas. ELCA leaders will visit the agency's emergency shelter which serves unaccompanied children, ages 12-17. The shelter provides food and clothing, as well as education, spiritual and psychological care and medical treatment. The shelter also provides case management services and coordinates legal services to assist the child in reunifying with their family, obtaining asylum in the United States or returning to their home country. ELCA leaders will visit one of Lutheran Social Services' transitional foster care programs for unaccompanied minors, which serve young children and those with special needs.
            "In this horrendous humanitarian crisis, there is an amazing opportunity for Lutheran Social Services of the South and the ELCA to serve 'the least of these.' This is what we're called to do. And, to echo comments from Pastor Stephen Bouman, 'We've been baptized for this moment.' As Christians we are called to reach out to provide help, healing, hope, spiritual care, medical care and education to those whom have been placed in our care," said Kurt Senske, CEO of Lutheran Social Services of the South.
            "We've been working with the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the ELCA and other partners, and we all know that together we are stronger," said Senske. "We welcome this opportunity to further strengthen our relationship and partnership," including partnerships with local congregations, ELCA synods and the churchwide organization.
            "This is a justice and mercy issue," said Senske. "While it is difficult to imagine the struggles of each of these children, we feel their pain as we listen to their heartbreaking stories, many who are escaping extremely dangerous situations. Our role, plain and simple, is to be the Good Samaritan."
            For more information, visit http://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/Lutheran-Disaster-Response/Our-Impact/Unaccompanied-and-Migrant-Children.
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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 about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations 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:​

Melissa Ramirez Cooper, Manager, Public Relations
773-380-2956 or email
ELCA News: www.ELCA.org/news
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Lutherans
Living Lutheran: www.livinglutheran.com

​     CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has designated Sunday, June 22, as Refugee Sunday, “when every Lutheran congregation is invited to lift up refugees and receiving communities in their prayers,” said the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop, and Linda Hartke, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, in a letter written to ELCA pastors. The letter was also signed by three ELCA synod bishops.
     Affirming the ELCA’s commitment to welcoming migrants and refugees, the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly overwhelmingly endorsed a memorial committing this church to celebrate June 22 as Refugee Sunday in conjunction with World Refugee Day, June 20. In 2000, the U.N. General Assembly declared that each June 20 would be dedicated to raising awareness about the situation of refugees throughout the world.
     “God’s call to love and serve our neighbors is embraced by Lutherans in congregations, church schools, seminaries, social ministry organizations and in the ministry you share through (Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service). This is a year to celebrate how we have been blessed and are in turn a blessing,” the letter said. “We are God’s hands at work in the world – offering healing, hospitality and hope.”
     Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2014, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is one of the nation's leaders in welcoming and advocating for refugees and immigrants, working on behalf of the ELCA. Since 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has assisted more than 500,000 migrants and refugees from around the world.
     For more than 20 years, Salem Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Houston, has welcomed refugees arriving from countries such as Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Members have provided essential needs, such as transportation, meals and household items, and they have also offered tutoring and ESL classes.
     “We see our task more to help them get their land legs upon arrival in our community. We provide furniture, groceries, gift cards and the like to support the resettlement efforts,” said the Rev. David Roschke, pastor of Salem.
     “It’s in our DNA as people of faith to welcome the stranger. It’s what we are called to do. We do it as church, we do it as synods, we do it as congregations, (and) we do it as households,” said Roschke. “The Bible reminds us, ‘do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it,’” he said, referring to chapter 13, verse 2, of Hebrews.  
     Emphasizing its ministry of welcoming the stranger, the ELCA is currently addressing the crisis of the thousands of unaccompanied minors coming to the United States to escape violence and dangerous situations in their home countries. In partnership with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, ELCA members are pursuing efforts to provide safety and appropriate social services for the children, as well as seeking long-term solutions to the situation.  ELCA members are also working through the agency to help find foster care for these children. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service estimates that 80,000 children will seek safety in the United States during this fiscal year. President Obama has called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to respond to the situation as an “urgent humanitarian crisis.” 

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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 more than 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations 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 or Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org
http://www.ELCA.org/news
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Lutherans
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com

     CHICAGO (ELCA) – As a church that pursues justice, peace and human dignity for all people, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is committed to helping the thousands of unaccompanied children coming to the United States to escape violence and difficult situations in their home countries. To address this crisis, ELCA members are working through Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service to help find foster care for these children. 
     “As people of faith, we are reminded that among the children who had to flee across borders because of threat of life was our very own Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. When children flee across two international borders alone, the community of Jesus – the church – must accompany them,” said the Rev. Stephen Bouman, executive director, ELCA congregational and synodical mission.
     “Children on the Run,” a report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, states that the number of children “making the treacherous journey alone and unaccompanied, has doubled each year since 2011.” According to the report, one of the main factors contributing to this increase is the rise of violence in Mexico and Central America. 
     Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service estimates that 80,000 children will seek safety in the United States during this fiscal year. The agency, based in Baltimore, is one of the nation's leaders in welcoming and advocating for refugees and immigrants, working on behalf of the ELCA. It is one of two organizations called upon by the U.S. Office of Refugee Settlement to help place unaccompanied children in foster care.
     “The ELCA, through its partnership with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, is already involved through its congregations, social ministry organizations, advocacy, and Lutheran Immigration Refugee Service affiliates on the ground,” said Bouman. “We are pursuing both the short-term efforts at achieving safety and relevant social services for these children of God, as well as long-term systemic solutions to stem the flow of children cast adrift.”
     “When Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service started working with unaccompanied migrant children in 2005, it was unthinkable that several thousand children would make the dangerous journey across the border on their own,” said Linda Hartke, president and CEO of  Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “To see that number skyrocket, potentially up to 80,000 children this year, is truly a humanitarian crisis.”
     “The children making this arduous trek north are fleeing violence, abuse and deep poverty and hunger, and are in desperate need of help and protection,” said Bouman. “Many are trying to reunite with family members here in the United States. By the time they cross the United States border, many have been robbed, raped or abused. The need is so large and current resources cannot keep pace.”
     Hartke said the causes behind this “new exodus out of Central America are complex, with escalating violence and death an overwhelming threat. It’s time now for action.”
     In April members of the ELCA Conference of Bishops Immigration Ready Bench joined other Lutheran leaders in Washington, D.C., for meetings with congressional leaders and the Obama administration to advocate for “humane and comprehensive immigration reform in our country and for fair treatment and adequate support of those who come to this country as refugees,” said the Rev. H. Julian Gordy, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Synod and chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops Immigration Ready Bench – one of six ELCA ready benches. “This year we focused our attention on unaccompanied minors and on immigration detention.” 
     “We were particularly concerned about the large numbers of unaccompanied refugee minors from around the world that come to the United States hoping for a future free of hunger and violence,” said Gordy.
     During sessions with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Gordy said the bishops learned “that foster families play a key role in giving refugee children the care and security they need to make a new life in this country. But there are not nearly enough foster families to meet the need.”
     At St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., information sessions are held for members interested in becoming foster parents. The sessions are led by Bethany Christian Services, a nondenominational family preservation and child welfare agency that helps place many of the unaccompanied youth with foster families in the Grand Rapids area. The Rev. Paul Kuhlman, pastor of St. Luke’s, said the agency’s “passion is contagious, and I believe that the members of St. Luke's will become greatly affected by their vision as some of our members become involved with Bethany Christian Services.”
     “We’ve seen a huge influx of children coming through the system, especially from Central America. Our referrals come through daily,” said Marie Simon, Bethany Christian Services licensing supervisor and foster homes recruiter. “The work never stops because the need is so great.” 
     “We confess with the wider church that all Christians are responsible to attend the needs of the lost, forgotten and lonely,” said Kuhlman. “St. Luke's has this as a central part of our mission statement. Foster children, wherever they are, need love and care and a family to help them become what God can make them to be. Christians in the United States must help children in other countries find places free of violence and abuse where they can experience loving support and new opportunities.”
     “Our Lutheran church members could help here by becoming foster families or by supporting those who are able to give this gift to these young people,” said Gordy. “Along with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, our Immigration Ready Bench bishops continue to push our elected officials to fix a broken immigration system and to support those who come here as refugees.”
     To help address the influx of unaccompanied children coming to the United States, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has launched a national advocacy campaign led by youth and young adults. The agency announced the “#Act of Love” campaign at a May 27 press conference in Washington, D.C., where, according to a press release, “young people from across the U.S. expressed their concerns for the refugee children and detailed plans for a social media campaign which includes a petition written and signed by young people and addressed to President Obama, Speaker John Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.” The petition “urges lawmakers to provide adequate emergency funds to address this humanitarian crisis, improve protections for children and collaborate with UN agencies, other NGOs and faith communities to offer safety to children.” 
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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 about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations 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 or Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org
http://www.ELCA.org/news
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Lutherans
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com

            CHICAGO (ELCA) — In support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule on carbon emissions, the presiding bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The Episcopal Church said in a June 5 joint statement that the rule is a "critical step toward safeguarding the lives and livelihood of future generations."
            In their statement, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton and Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori noted that recent reports have outlined the impacts that climate change has already had on the world.
            "Multi-year droughts, sea level rise, extreme weather events and increased flooding dramatically affect communities internationally, from the Inupiat on the north slope of Alaska to Midwestern farming families to our brothers and sisters in the Philippines," the leaders said. "We recognize with concern that climate change particularly harms low-income communities that lack the resources and technology to adapt to rapid environmental changes."
            In addition to the effect climate change has had on agriculture, food supplies and prices, the presiding bishops said that ending hunger and alleviating global poverty also are key concerns for both faith traditions.
            "Sustainable solutions must include both poverty alleviation and environmental conservation," they wrote.
            Eaton and Jefferts Schori cited that power plants "are the single largest source of carbon dioxide pollution in the United States and major contributors to climate change. These emissions not only threaten the environmental stability of our planet, but also the health of young children and their families, disproportionally affecting the poorest among us."
            They said the carbon rule proposed this week "will reduce the carbon dioxide output from existing power plants, setting a strong standard that will modernize our nation's power plants while limiting our contribution to global climate change. Reducing carbon emissions from power plants must be a top priority for the United States if we hope to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and ensure a just and sustainable world for our generation and those to come.
            "Our faith traditions teach us that no single person can be whole unless all have the opportunity for full and abundant life. That wholeness and collective well-being is only possible as a global community. We recognize our connections to fellow citizens and neighbors around the world who are already suffering from the consequences of climate change, and acknowledge our responsibility to those yet unborn, who will either benefit from our efforts to curb carbon emissions or suffer from our failure to address this ethical imperative. We believe that addressing climate change is a moral obligation to our neighbors and to God's creation, so that all may enjoy full, healthy and abundant lives," the presiding bishops said.
            The proposed carbon rule for existing power plants "is the single largest step that we can take now to address the pressing issue of climate change," they said, adding that the ELCA and The Episcopal Church "are eager to collaborate with the EPA and states across the nation to ensure that the carbon rule is implemented fairly, particularly for low-income consumers."
            Eaton and Jefferts Schori concluded their statement with a prayer "that all involved in this good work will be graced with vision, hope and the search for truth as they seek to implement the carbon rule swiftly and effectively."
            The full text of the statement is available at http://www.elca.org/Resources/Presiding-Bishop-Messages, and the ELCA's social statement on "Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice" is available at www.ELCA.org/en/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Caring-for-Creation.
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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 about 4  million members in nearly 10,000 congregations 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:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper, Manager, Public Relations
773-380-2956 or email
ELCA News: www.ELCA.org/news
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Lutherans
Living Lutheran: www.livinglutheran.com

CENTERED IN CHRIST, WE ARE CALLED...GATHERED...TRANSFORMED...SENT!
First Lutheran Church
1000 3rd Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403 (319) 365-1494
Fax: (319) 364-3962  E-mail: info@firstlutherancr.org