Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and other members of the Circle of Protection coalition recently met with senior officials at the White House. Eaton and other heads of Christian denominations and organizations are working together to urge passage of the economic bills the U.S. Congress is considering now, along with voting rights legislation this fall. Today's meeting will focus on the family support bill currently being debated in Congress.
In a letter the Circle of Protection is presenting to President Joe Biden and Congress today, the coalition affirms that these pending bills "would strengthen the physical and social infrastructure of our society, cut family and child poverty more than any time in our lives, and ensure the precious right to vote for all people made in God's image.
Reflecting on the early church, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton writes: “They were one body. We are one body. We are the body of Christ.” Despite cultural and political differences, she reminds us that we can’t dissolve this bond
Sept 16, 2021
Lutheran Services Carolinas is opening new refugee programs in Charleston and Greenville , South Carolina. The new programs will serve legal refugees from around the world including Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders from Afghanistan, the allies who supported U.S. troops.
LSC will begin providing services as soon as new teammates are hired and office space is secured.
The expansion of services requests were approved by the U.S. Office of Population, Refugees, and Migration. In collaboration with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), LSC has a long history of supporting refugees on their journey to self- sufficiency in this country, including welcome at the airport upon arrival, food and shelter, transportation, medical care, school enrollment, employment services, and cultural assimilation.
“LSC is excited to be able to expand to welcome and serve more refugees,” said LSC President and CEO Ted Goins. “We appreciate the hard work of our LSC Refugee and Immigrant Services team in putting together a winning application to expand our services.”
“It couldn’t come at a better time, as people are desperate for a safe home at the same time as the United States is suffering the greatest workforce emergency in modern history. South Carolina needs workers and refugees are eager to participate in the American dream.”
Based in Salisbury, NC, LSC currently operates refugee services programs in Columbia, South Carolina, and Raleigh, North Carolina.
“There has been a tremendous outpouring of support, especially for our allies from Afghanistan,” said Goins. “People are stepping up to love and serve our neighbors.”
1-800-HELPING is LSC’s help line for people who would like to help.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I am writing to you with a heavy heart and I ask that you join me in prayer. These have been incredibly challenging times for so many reasons, but I’m convinced that we will get through this season of challenge only as we work together and support one another. Please check on each other; listen to one another and pray together.
This weekend we will bury two of our Synod Pastors. Pastor James W. Campbell and Pastor Rick Inman, both beloved children of God and faithful servants to Christ’s church here in the South Carolina Synod. Our hearts break for their families & friends and for the congregations they have served, and for their colleagues across the church who are grieving.
Pray for all those who grieve. Ask God to send us comfort and strength with the hope of the Resurrection so that we can entrust our brothers, Jim and Ricky into God’s eternal arms. Ask Jesus to help us care for one another with the same passion and self-giving love that he models for us from the cross. Ask the Holy Spirit to send us a spirit of gentleness and kindness as we live together in Christ’s beloved community.
We all continue to struggle with knowing the most faithful ways to deal with the rising numbers of COVID19 cases. I trust you to make good leadership decisions within your context and with your council leaders for the safety of your whole community. We know that there are a few people who for medical reasons have been advised by their doctors not to get the vaccine, however, we encourage those who are able, to get vaccinated. We also encourage everyone to wear their mask, especially for any indoor activities in groups.
Our chief concern is for everyone’s safety and well-being. If possible, I encourage you to lead outdoor worship or use online formats. Certainly, if you are indoors, observe social distancing. I pray we can find the way forward working together to see a significant decline in COVID19 cases.
Your Synod Staff takes this virus and rising case numbers seriously. We are once again following more cautious protocols to keep everyone as safe as possible. Our participation in all in-person events for the remainder of September and October with few exceptions, has been canceled . We will continue to monitor the case numbers to determine November activity levels. At this time we are not receiving any visitors in the office and all of our meetings will, once again, be moved back to online formats.
We hope you understand and will follow your Synod Staff’s lead by assessing your own plans and upcoming schedules. Wherever you are able we encourage you to meet using outside or online formats. Most importantly, we pray you will take good care of yourselves as well as those within your community.
My prayers surround you. Thank you for your faithful leadership, and for your bold proclamation of God’s word that we love one another.
Bishop Ginny Aebischer
Sept 9, 2021
On December 7, 1941, the American Naval Base at Pearl Harbor was attacked, and the result was 2,403 dead U.S. servicemen and civilians. America had officially joined the war.
A call to arms went out across the land and Americans responded. Americans from all walks of life answered the call. They enlisted in the military or were drafted. They went to work in factories making bombs and other war machines. They bought War Bonds and volunteered to be lookouts along our shorelines, ever vigilant for the possibility of an enemy attack. Every American sacrificed in some way. Food and materials were rationed to support the war effort. Men and women were sent to far off lands to fight and about 420,000 Americans made the ultimate sacrifice, they died, defending their families, their way of life, and America. Today, America is at war again, but this time it is on our own soil.
Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the ELCA, has issued a pastoral message in response to a U.S. district judge ruling to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on July 19. “Jesus taught us that when we welcome the stranger as a person made in God’s image, we also welcome God,” the message read, in part.
“Our lives, ministries and congregations have been blessed by many immigrants and refugees over the years—from many of our ancestors to those we welcome among us today,” the message continued.
Community volunteerism and community passion to serve others is a powerful thing. Multi-agency collaboration is a must.
Lutheran Services Carolinas created a geo-targeted donation network so all communities in need could receive donations. The network goal is for donation distribution to strategically expedite supplies to needed areas all over. Hearts With Hands, based in Western, NC, already does this work in the Western, NC and some SC areas. Hearts With Hands teamed with LSC-Disaster Services so donation distribution could expand. Thank you FEMA Donation Management, Walmart Corporate and Hearts With Hands for allowing Lutheran Services Carolinas to be your positive teammates.
By Sherry Fowler, Martin Luther - James Island
If you are a Star Trek fan, you will be familiar with the phrase, "to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before".
This year’s South Carolina Synod Assembly has adopted the theme, “To Boldly Go… To Proclaim”.
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In October 2020, timber was harvested in areas surrounding the Camp Kinard lake in preparation for construction of a new chapel, entrance, and pool. Last month, members from South Carolina Lutheran Men in Mission spent the day (Batesburg-Leesville, SC) to help clear leftover timber debris as we move forward with expansion plans.
"We give thanks to all the incredible men who came out from all across South Carolina," shared SCLRC Executive Director Dallas Shealy, "especially Randy Barnes, Larry Ricard, and Johnny Merck who helped put this event together. We look forward to gathering with everyone here in the future as we continue to make this dream into a reality!"
Want to learn more about how your group can help? We invite you to contact Dallas.
LWF leaders meet with Pope Francis in the Vatican, look ahead to 500th anniversary of Augsburg Confession
Meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican on 25 June, both the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President Archbishop Dr. Panti Filibus Musa and Pope Francis expressed the hope that the 500th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession in 2030 can become common ground on which to strengthen the commitment of Lutherans and Catholics to unity and reconciliation.
In her June/July column for Living Lutheran, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton reflects on what we’ve learned from the Apostle Paul about the deeply spiritual act of stewardship.
As part of the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, voting members adopted a resolution designating June 17 as a commemoration of the martyrdom of the Emanuel 9—the nine people shot and killed on June 17, 2015, during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
(From ELCA website)
Religion and mental health treatment are often viewed as opposites. Some religious people believe that treatment for mental health is unnecessary—God alone heals. Others believe in the benefits of treatment but see no place for religion in it—mental health and spiritual health are separate.
As a queer person and someone who deals with religious anxiety despite years of separation from the nondenominational church that hurt me, I know the damage that harmful theology can inflict on someone’s mental health. Nevertheless, I know that for those who are religious, faith has a place in healing mental health, both in clinical treatment and in the building of supportive communities.
The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) met electronically April 14-17. The council, which serves as the ELCA’s board of directors, took action on a variety of matters intended to advance this church’s mission and ministry.
In response to action taken by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly that declared the ELCA a sanctuary church body, the council approved a motion to recognize that the ELCA's ministry as a sanctuary church body is a public witness that calls ELCA members to value the dignity of each human being made in God's image. The council also encouraged an understanding of the word “sanctuary” that is rooted in the principles of walking alongside, or accompanying, immigrants and refugees but acknowledged that “sanctuary” has no legal or universally accepted definition. This action also affirmed the guidance provided in the "ELCA Sanctuary Church Guidelines" for ways congregations, synods and the churchwide organization can accompany and support the ministry of sanctuary.
The council approved a revision of “Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline,” effective immediately and applicable only to conduct occurring — or alleged to have occurred — after the date this resolution was adopted. The document describes the grounds by which officers, rostered ministers, candidates for rostered ministry, congregations and members of congregations may be subject to discipline according to the practice of this church.
O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
Throughout Scripture, God promises to restore God's people to health and wholeness, a promise that includes the renewal of all creation. This promise is depicted dramatically in the final pages of the book of Revelation as a grand vision of a new heaven and a new earth. The earth and its inhabitants are weary and uncertain, battered by plagues and death, wars and destruction. But God is still there, persistent and faithful. At the last, God reveals a renewed heaven and an earth permeated by the presence of God, transformed from pain to be a place of healing and wholeness for all things. The 2021 Earth Day theme, "Restore Our Earth," reminds us of this vision and the holy work God entrusts to us — of seeking the well-being of creation as inseparable from the wholeness of humankind.
In the past year the world received a jolt from its collision with the COVID-19 pandemic, which laid bare persistent racial disparities in health care access and outcomes in our nation. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted the disproportionate impact (increased hospitalizations and deaths) of the pandemic on some racial and ethnic minority groups. The CDC found that "inequities in the social determinants of health, such as poverty and healthcare access, affecting these groups are interrelated and influence a wide range of health and quality-of-life outcomes and risks."
The racial reckonings of 2020 illuminate how the legacies of slavery, the Doctrine of Discovery and colonization continue to diminish life for people and creation. The glaring inequities exposed through the pandemic are being intensified by the global impacts of climate change. The final 2020 update of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) found last year to be one of historical extremes. There were 22 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters across the United States, which shattered the previous annual record of 16 events in 2011 and 2017. All these disasters disproportionately affected people of color and the most vulnerable populations. We are one people and one earth in need of restoration.
Repenting the sin of racism and repenting our destruction of creation should happen together. Because God gave humans the vocation to be stewards of the earth, we proclaim that, for Christians, care of the earth is not an "environmental cause." Instead, it is central to our holy calling to treasure the earth and care for it as our home, fully integrating creation care into our love of God, neighbor and all in the environment. Recalling the good earth and our call to be stewards of creation in hope and faith, we know our recovery from the pall of 2020 will, in many ways, be a transition to a new way of life.
Dear church, we can "testify to the good news of God's grace" (Acts 20:24), which empowers us to move forward. We know that healing is possible — for the planet and for our communities. We are not too late. The time is now. To us, God is calling; through us, God wants to work a miracle; through our finite and inadequate efforts, God can and will bring about "a new heaven and a new earth." God provides us with diverse gifts as protectors and guardians of creation. We affirm, therefore, the many stewards of the land who have been and are conserving the good earth that the Lord has given us.
As stewards of creation, we have many ways to lovingly serve the earth:
• Explore and use ELCA Care for Creation resources, including video, study and action guides with information about the Creation Care Ambassadors initiative.
• Read the Lutherans Restoring Creation story "5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day as Church Together but Apart."
• Accept the ELCA Young Adults No Plastics for Lent challenge this Easter season.
• Participate in a local cleanup (with appropriate distancing) if permitted by local authorities, or participate in the Earth Challenge 2020 citizen scientist initiative, focused on plastic pollution and clean air.
• Join with the ELCA's ecumenical partner Creation Justice Ministries in advocacy, education and prayer.
• Participate in Faith and Frontline Call to Action: Good Trouble for Justice on April 19, an ELCA-sponsored consultation focusing on climate migration, food security and just transition. This event brings together people of faith at this watershed moment and calls for the inclusion of the voices, ideas and expertise of the front line and faith communities alongside career politicians and others to address and implement climate solutions.
Envisioning a world that is just, sustainable and resilient, we, as Lutherans, heed God's call and take concrete steps to repair inequities and wealth divides locally, nationally and globally. A framework built on hope and connecting climate to economic and racial justice is essential to our reimagining of communities as resilient and inclusive, void of poverty and leaving no one behind.
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
From the SC Synod website: DR. MINDY MAKANT OF
LENOIR-RHYNE UNIVERSITY INTERVIEWS BISHOP
GINNY AEBISCHER ABOUT HER TIME IN THE MINISTRY.
Special Edition: Anti Asian Racism Statement From Bishop Aebischer
By now, most of us have received the news that on March 16, 2021, a horrific act of racism was inflicted on our Asian siblings in the Atlanta area when a suspect shot and killed 8 people in three different locations. This crime is just another example of increased attacks targeting Asian American and Pacific Islander communities during the COVID 19 pandemic.
This week I sent a letter to the pastors and deacons serving congregations in the South Carolina Synod- ELCA inviting them to set aside Sunday, March 21, 2021 or another date of their choosing to use resources for lament and prayer on behalf of our Asian-American brothers and sisters. We condemn the sin of racism in all its forms and invite congregations of the South Carolina Synod – ELCA to join with our Asian and Pacific Islander siblings to lament the pain that these attacks have caused, and to pray for the victims of violence.
God has called us to become the beloved community that God created where all are valued and honored. We then are called through the waters of our baptism to strive for justice and peace in all the world, for all.
O God of all, with wonderful diversity of languages and cultures you created all people in your own image. Free us from prejudice and fear, that we may see your face in the faces of our Asian siblings and people around the world; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen
(Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship Occasional Services for the Assembly, pg 398)
ELCA’s Statement on anti-Asian Racism
Bishop Ginny Aebischer
Vaccination hopes, fears and falsehoods are around us in this time of heightened anxiety. A new resource is available, “‘All in’ Against COVID-19: FAQ and Guide to Supporting Vaccine Confidence for Faith and Community Leaders.” Released on March 1, 2021 by The Partnership Center, Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The Rev. Emily Edenfield interviews Deacon Darlene Weight as part of Womens History Month
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton shares some of the rich contributions of Black Lutheran History.
The Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary of Lenoir-Rhyne University announces accreditation has been reaffirmed by the Association of Theological Schools.
LTSS received the maximum 10-year term from ATS, which oversees more than 270 graduate schools in theology and ministry in the United States and Canada. The seminary has been accredited by ATS since 1944.
As part of Lenoir-Rhyne, the seminary is also accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. “I’ve seen the commitment of our faculty and friends of the seminary,” said the Rev. Dr. Mary Shore, rector and dean of LTSS. “It is very gratifying to have other people witness that, as well.”
The process began in the fall of 2019 when Shore and Dr. Brent Driggers, chair of the committee that oversaw an institutional self-study, attended a conference to ascertain everything required to reaffirm accreditation. It was chiefly through its 184-page self-study that the seminary faculty and staff gathered information and provided analysis about core institutional areas such as mission, curriculum, student services, governance and finances.
In November 2020, a committee from ATS met — virtually due to COVID-19 — with administrators at the seminary, faculty, staff and students, while poring over the self-study in order to recommend a term to reaffirm accreditation for LTSS. LTSS received exemplary marks for its commitment to be an inclusive community, for its faculty and staff who demonstrated genuine passion about their faith and care for students, as well as its relationship with Lenoir-Rhyne, which strengthened its resources and ability to provide quality education and experiences for seminarians. “It’s an affirmation of a lot of work we’ve done strengthening our program and our ongoing program assessment processes,” Driggers said.
The last accreditation cycle for LTSS began shortly after it merged with Lenoir-Rhyne University, which has turned out to be a great partnership for both parties. “We have a campus that is more useful now than it was when it was populated by just seminary programs,” Shore said. “Lenoir-Rhyne has a presence in Columbia that it didn’t have, and the seminary has access to more resources such as the Center for Teacher Learning, information technology and marketing communications. As part of the university, the seminary has access to all of those resources, and the university has a theological faculty and stature in the church that is greater than it was before.”
From the SC Synod: BLACK HISTORY
MONTH INTERVIEWS WITH
THE REV. EMILY EDENFIELD
This February, The Rev. Emily
Edenfield conducted a series
of interviews with
African-American pastors here
in the South Carolina Synod.
We were blessed by guests
who share their experiences.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH: THE REV. JEHU JONES
The first African American pastor, the Rev. Jehu Jones, was born in Charleston, SC. He went to Philadelphia for seminary, was ordained in 1832, and founded the first African-American Lutheran Congregation in 1834. St. Paul’s in Philadelphia took hold in that neighborhood, while Pr. Jones served them and over 2000 African American families in Eastern Pennsylvania.
This February, the SC Synod remembers African-American History month. We thank God for the faithful ministry of African Descent pastors, deacons, and laypeople in this and every age.
ELCA presiding bishop, other faith leaders call for arms reduction agreement extension
January 21, 2021
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has been joined by 21 U.S. religious leaders in a Jan. 19 statement to President-elect Biden’s transition team calling for an extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) agreement. This is a nuclear arms reduction treaty, jointly agreed to by the United States and the Russian Federation 10 years ago, that will automatically expire on Feb. 5, 2021, unless the two parties agree to extend it.
In signing on to the agreement, Eaton recalled the words of the prophet Isaiah: “[The Lord] shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4).
Eaton also noted that, according to the 1995 ELCA social statement “For Peace in God’s World,” this church would give priority to “agreements among the leading nuclear powers to reduce their nuclear stockpiles and to decrease the possibility of nuclear confrontation or accident”—precisely what New START addresses.
In the statement, Eaton and the other religious leaders said:
“We call for an immediate five-year extension of the New START treaty, in order to avoid a nuclear crisis interfering with the other urgent priorities facing the nation and the world—from containing the pandemic to restarting the economy. Equally, a five-year extension would provide a period of predictability for new negotiations on further steps to reduce nuclear dangers.”
For the past 18 months, ELCA churchwide organization staff have been participating in informal discussions among leading U.S. and Russian arms control experts aimed at reducing the danger of nuclear war. The experts have encouraged initiatives by the religious leaders―such as the statement―as a first, important step toward restoring a basis for official, longer-term talks on reducing the respective nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia. While some official U.S.-Russia talks have been held in recent months, they have not produced clear results.
“We hope this, and future, initiatives can lead to concrete steps by the U.S., Russia and, eventually, other nuclear powers to reduce the danger of an unimaginable nuclear confrontation and lay a path instead for meeting urgent human needs,” said Dennis Frado, director of the Lutheran Office for World Community at the United Nations. “It reflects the importance of moral leadership to promote confidence-building measures that help adversaries to re-create a basis for a more secure world.”
The informal discussions by arms control experts are a recent effort by the Global Priorities campaign, an interreligious group that aims to secure the common good of all people by reducing global military spending and redirecting resources to unmet human needs. The latest endeavor has involved representatives of the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church. The campaign has previously been endorsed by the Lutheran World Federation (Eleventh Assembly, Stuttgart, Germany, 2010), Church World Service, the U.S. Committee of the World Council of Churches, and others. The ELCA has provided support to the campaign for several years.
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