ELCIC Members Asked to Pray for the People of New Zealand Following Severe Earthquake

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) National Bishop Susan C. Johnson called for prayers following a severe earthquake that hit Christchurch, New Zealand on February 22, 2011.

"I encourage all ELCIC members to include those affected by this earthquake in their prayers," said Bishop Johnson. Shortly after hearing the news of the earthquake, Bishop Johnson sent a message to the Bishop of Christchurch, The Right Rev. Victoria Matthews. In her message, Bishop Johnson shared her prayers for the diocese and all the people affected by the earthquake.

A deadly 6.3 magnitude tremor wrecked a trail of destruction in the city, killing close to 100 people with over 200 persons still reported missing earlier today.

In a release from Lutheran World Information (LWI), Rev. David Lipsys, pastor of St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Christchurch, reported that there were no known casualties among the congregation, though he emphasized the difficulty in reaching members. “Loss of power and telephones, combined with transport restrictions, is making contact with our church members and friends very difficult,” he said. Lipsys planned to motorcycle to areas that are still not accessible by automobile to find out how parishioners were faring.

New Zealand’s second major earthquake in five months had compromised the structural integrity of the church worship center, he noted, and seriously damaged the house in which he and his wife live. “We hope to be able to remain in our home, but I am afraid that we may have to tear it down,” he commented.

Many people are spending the nights in tents, without water or food, Lipsys said. Meanwhile, fear is running high because of the risk of aftershocks.

Lutheran Church of New Zealand (LCNZ) President Robert Erickson has declared this coming Sunday a “Sunday of Prayer for the people of Christchurch and surrounding areas.”

LCNZ is a district of the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA), which joined the LWF as an associate member church in 1994 and has 70,000 members.

(With files from Lutheran World Information and Linda Macqueen, editor of LCA’s The Lutheran magazine.)

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 152,500 baptized members in 607 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

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