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Building Puentes with Carribean Synod

Building Puentes means building bridges – and is the name of a commitment between the ELCA Caribbean Synod and Metro D.C. Synod.

Every congregation in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands was affected by Hurricane Maria. Let us break through the chasms that divide and build bridges with fellow Lutheran siblings on the mainland and on the islands affected by storm devastation.

Set in motion with a synod-wide offering on Epiphany Sunday 2017, you can still make a Building Puentes offering through Online Financial Transactions (scroll down to “Designated Gifts” to find Building Puentes option) or by mail (Memo: “Building Puentes”).

Local leaders have been working tirelessly given their new reality. As part of the Building Puentes call, we will build connections and true relationship with work trips and aid. We will develop new and organic ways to connect and live into our mutual call to follow the Light no darkness can overcome. This we can do together, in Jesus’ name.

“Blessed is the one who knows that sharing a pain is to divide it and sharing a joy is to multiply it.” ~ ELCA Sínodo Caribe (@elcalcs 9/17/17)

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

  • “Recovery on the islands” – (ppt file) slide presentation introducing Building Puentes, developed for River of Grace Lutheran in Manassas, Md. by Gretchen Bonanno in Jan. 2018
  • “Visual stories from the Caribbean” – Video of the Rev. Felipe Lozada-Montañez reflecting on the aftermath of Hurricane Maria

  • “Visual stories from the Caribbean” – blog post (1/6/18) introduces new video & the videographer
  • “Building Puentes with Caribbean islands” – blog post (11/30/17) introducing initiative and synod-wide offering

Do you want to change the world?

Do you want to make a difference? Are you ready to serve the world in need? The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop, invites consideration of a call to public ministry in a short video. “God has and continues to call each of us to serve our neighbor and the world in need,” she says.

View also Show up! Through Spoken Word, persons discerning a call for service get a picture of public ministry: “The table is wide and there’s lots of food to eat. So show up. And be fed. And feed others satiating a different kind of hunger.”

Decreased seminary enrollment combined with a record number of ELCA rostered ministers who are retiring has resulted in not enough ministers to fill the open calls or to provide creative leadership in this time of rapid change in our church and in the world. The seven seminaries of the ELCA want to encourage future leaders and provide resources to promote the vocation of public ministry. More…

If not you, maybe you know someone who shows a gift for ministry. Tell them, and help mentor and foster them. Together – pastors, deacons, lay people – we can bring the word of God to the world.

Prayer for places of worship, including Bethlehem Lutheran

Bishop Graham wrote this prayer shared in many synod congregations, joining hearts with our brothers and sisters of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Fairfax, Virg.

Multiple news outlets reported on recent incidents there, including sanctuary damage and graffiti that included racial and religious slurs after a break-in on June 26, 2018. On June 26, the congregation posted to Facebook a photo from a candlelight vigil and this excerpted text: “We have been encircled by the faith community, our neighbors, and friends both near and far with amazing love and support proving that love does bear all.”


Good and gracious God,
in the midst of so much we cannot understand, we turn to you and ask for your mercy.
Comfort your people at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Fairfax, who grieve over damage done to the place in which they worship you.
Protect all places of worship threatened by violence and bigotry and hatred.
Turn the hearts of all who do evil.
In the name of the Prince of Peace, we ask for you send peace in our communities and around our world, so that all may praise you, the God of all hope and consolation.
To you be glory for ever and ever.
Amen.

From the Bishop’s desk: Letter to President Trump

Our Metro D.C. Synod bishop has sent the following letter to President Donald Trump. In part, Bishop Graham writes:

“Mr. President, I know that you live in the midst of difficulties that no one else in the world can really understand. As the Bible teaches us, we pray for you and our country’s other leaders every week in our churches. But we believe that, because we are free citizens in our country, God holds us responsible for our government’s actions. And so I am compelled to plead that the separation of children from their parents is a terrible mistake, that the process of law is due to everyone who comes into our country, and that just and generous immigration laws must be drafted and enacted.”

The full text of this letter follows. Print a copy from here (pdf file).


June 24, 2018

The Hon. Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I write you tonight with burning anxiety and distress. The situation confronting immigrants and refugees coming to our country has reached such a sad, confusing point that surely something must be done to calm the situation. I plead with you, as the highest elected official in the United States, to take action to reunite parents and their children and to assure the due process of law for everyone who seeks to cross our borders.

My plea comes first of all from hope for our country. All of us nearly are immigrants or descended from immigrants. The greatness of the United States has grown from the continued renewal that each new wave of immigrants has brought us. Closing our borders now, and closing them so cruelly as we seem to have done, is a betrayal of our history.

But I also write as a leader in the Christian community. Lutheran Christians like me believe that a strong government is God’s loving gift to all people, believers and unbelievers alike. Strong government is essential to everyone’s well-being. But government goes wrong when it deals harshly with the poor and weak. I am afraid that some of your advisors have used the Bible to confuse the government’s legitimate strength with arbitrary and unpredictable power.

Instead, I would refer you in the Bible to the famous passage in which God says to the children of Israel, “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” This passage is from the book of Leviticus. God’s people are being reminded here that because they were aliens, immigrants and strangers and outsiders, once themselves, they should always be just and loving with people who are in the same situation. This is the ideal we have for ourselves as God’s people today. And this is the ideal we have for the diverse and beautiful country in which we live.

Mr. President, I know that you live in the midst of difficulties that no one else in the world can really understand. As the Bible teaches us, we pray for you and our country’s other leaders every week in our churches. But we believe that, because we are free citizens in our country, God holds us responsible for our government’s actions. And so I am compelled to plead that the separation of children from their parents is a terrible mistake, that the process of law is due to everyone who comes into our country, and that just and generous immigration laws must be drafted and enacted.

Trusting that God will give you strength and insight equal to your tasks, and asking God to bless you and your family, I am

Sincerely yours,
The Rev. Richard H. Graham
Bishop
Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

 

Cerrando nuestra Asamblea

Estamos terminando nuestra Asamblea anual, orando por los que has sido elegidos para ejercer un liderazgo en la iglesia este año.

Estamos orando con nuestro Graham para emprender nuestros regresso a casa para que Dios nos acompañe en el camino.

Sent out by the Spirit

We close today sharing gratitude and appreciation for all that helped to plan, organize, and put on this Synod Assembly!

We install elected leaders and close the assembly in prayer. It is with songs and blessings, by God’s good grace and following in Jesus’ path, that we are sent out by the Spirit to love and serve our neighbor.

Thank you for sharing this Assembly with me. Peace and blessings to you and yours.

– Vicar Ben 

 

Better together

The Rev. Leila Ortiz, Assistant to the Bishop, shares her report with a positive spirit and confidence in “walking alongside you – the church.” She recognized those that have received calls over the past year, those in candidacy, and those currently serving throughout our synod. “By the grace of God, we [press on] and believe in the move of the Spirit to guide our discernment as we continue to call gifted rostered ministers into our synod.” Pr. Ortiz is committed that the church is better together, especially when making new connections and responding to the Spirit’s invitation to move with Her into new opportunities for ministry.

The Rev. Phil Hirsch, Director for Evangelical Mission and Assistant to the Bishop, shares the good and life-giving work that he does and how making connections, building relationships, and including new people into the life of our ministries is our ultimate goal. “When leaders agree and work toward a goal, they are more likely to reach it!”

 

To do this, he encourages three things. First, pray Together – Prayer should be your oxygen. How is prayer fueling your life? What are you doing to pray together with those you are doing ministry with and among? Second, invest in leadership. We need to call on each other to support one another. This comes in a variety of ways and looks different for every congregation, council, and rostered leader. Lastly, follow a Strategy. The Synod has tools and resources for you! Make sure to reach out and try out new ways for yourself and your ministry.