ELCIC National Bishop Urges Prime Minister to Reconsider Government’s Position on Situation in Gaza and Join in Call for Immediate Ceasefire

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) National Bishop Susan C. Johnson urges the Prime Minister to reconsider the Government of Canada’s position to place the sole burden of responsibility on Hamas for the deepening humanitarian tragedy in Gaza and, "join the many voices speaking out for an immediate ceasefire."

In a letter sent on January 5 to the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Bishop Johnson expressed disappointment in the January 4 statement issued by Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs on the hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

In the statement, the Honourable Minister Lawrence Cannon said the government urges, "renewed international diplomatic efforts to achieve a sustainable and durable ceasefire, starting with the halting of all rocket attacks on Israel," further saying that the Canadian government, "maintains that the rocket attacks are the cause of this crisis."

Bishop Johnson, currently travelling in the Middle East, is hearing first-hand the stories of suffering from the people of Gaza and notes the extreme disproportion between civilian and combatant casualties, "specifically deaths and injuries to defenceless women and children."

In her letter to the Prime Minister, she states, "there is no justifiable defence for this incursion into Gaza with such large casualties. Placing sole blame for the magnitude of the current crisis on these clearly indefensible rocket attacks functionally absolves the Government of Israel from responsibility for the extreme civilian casualties that are being incurred."

Bishop Johnson is calling on the Prime Minister to not only reconsider the government’s position and call for an immediate ceasefire, but to then also, "support negotiations for a just and lasting peace, [and] support any United Nations resolutions that call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza." The full letter from ELCIC National Bishop Johnson to the Prime Minister is available online at: https://www.elcic.ca/Documents/JAN09LETTERTOPM.pdf.

Almost 600 Palestinians have been killed and as many as 3000 injured in Gaza so far. Action By Churches Together (ACT) International reports that many of the injured are unable to seek medical attention and are stuck in their homes without food and water. As of January 6, 5 Israeli civilians had been killed by Hamas rockets, and 5 Israel Defense Forces soldiers have been killed, 3 by so-called friendly fire.

National Bishop Johnson, four of the five synod bishops, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson, along with more than half of the 66 bishops of the ELCA, the ELCA secretary, plus spouses and staff are visiting the Middle East, Jan. 6-13, 2009. Participants will meet with Israeli and Palestinian religious, community and political leaders, visit congregations and schools, and sites of religious significance. 

A small delegation, including National Bishop Johnson and Presiding Bishop Hanson, were in Jordan, Jan. 3-6. They met Jordanian religious and political leaders before traveling to Jerusalem to meet their colleagues.

Details and updates from the Bishops’ trip is online at: https://elcic.ca/From-the-Bishop/default.cfm

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 162,000 baptized members in 613 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

Material provided through ELCIC Information is intended for reproduction and redistribution by recipients in whatever manner they may find useful.

For more information, please contact:
Trina Gallop, Director of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

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ELCIC and CLWR Issue Appeal to Support Humanitarian Aid in Gaza

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s (ELCIC) Global Hunger and Development Appeal (GHDA), Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) and their partners in the region have taken action to address the humanitarian needs of the many Palestinians who are unable to escape the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip. A joint appeal has been issued to support immediate relief efforts.

Through CLWR, the ELCIC is cooperating with other members of Action by Churches Together (ACT) International, including the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), to respond to emergency needs as the situation develops. Priority relief measures in the coming days and weeks include the provision of food items like rice, flour and high protein biscuits; cooking fuel; blankets; medical supplies; as well as psychosocial counselling.

Aid workers report desperate circumstances. Food is in extremely short supply. Fuel is running low. Mobile medical clinics have been destroyed by Israeli air strikes. Hospitals continue to receive a steady stream of patients; many of them civilians who were struck by shrapnel or falling debris while sitting in their homes.

“No one goes out on the streets except if they really have to,” said Omar Almajdalawi from Jabalia in Gaza, an aid worker with ACT International member DanChurchAid. He tells that most people now live with open windows, despite the cold, so that the glass does not break into a hundred pieces from the impact of missiles exploding in the area.

At the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, supported by ACT International members, staff have been working around the clock to cope with casualties and are exhausted. Director Dr. Suhaila Tarazi reports “the hospital is in urgent need of medicine and supplies. There is no electricity in all of Gaza and so we are currently running off of generator power. We have very little supplies left — enough to last for another week. If this crisis continues, we will be in a very dire situation.”

CLWR has a long history of humanitarian work in the region through the LWF, of which the ELCIC is a member church, including support for the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) in East Jerusalem. AVH offers specialized medical services like cancer treatment and dialysis to Palestinians. The hospital does treat some cancer patients from Gaza and will need additional funds to cover the costs of housing, food, transportation, and other support for these patients and accompanying family members who are unable to return to Gaza.

To support relief efforts in Gaza, donations can be made to GHDA – Gaza Appeal as follows:
– Via the ELCIC Website: www.elcic.ca (click on the Donate Now link)
– By mail: GHDA, 302-393 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3B 3H6 (please indicate "GHDA – Gaza Appeal" in the memo portion of the cheque)
– Through all ELCIC Congregations

Further information about the work of ELCIC’s Global Hunger and Development Appeal can be viewed online at www.elcic.ca/ghda

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 162,000 baptized members in 613 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

Material provided through ELCIC Information is intended for reproduction and redistribution by recipients in whatever manner they may find useful.

For more information, please contact:
Trina Gallop, Director of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

Subscribe or unsubscribe to ELCIC Information by emailing info@elcic.ca with a short message.

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Lutherans Worship at Jesus’ Baptism Site, Leaders Meet King

About 60 people, including about 10 bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), worshipped at the site of Jesus’ Baptism on the banks of the Jordan River on the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6. Joining the bishops were members of Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church, Amman, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL).

Epiphany is a Christian commemoration of the visit by the three wise men or magi to the infant Jesus.

His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan gave land at the site to the ELCJHL, which plans to build a chapel and retreat center, said the Rev. Munib A. Younan, ELCJHL bishop.

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop and president of the Lutheran World Federation, said the baptismal site "will be a site of renewal of our Christian faith and our baptismal vocation to establish peace with justice first here in the Holy Land." He said the site reminds Christians to be peacemakers, especially while the conflict in Gaza continues.

Worshipping at the historic site on Epiphany is a reminder "of the gifts of forgiveness and salvation we receive through our Baptisms," said the Rev. Susan C. Johnson, ELCIC national bishop. "We thank our Lord and Savior for the gift of peace that we are asked to share, especially during time of conflict in Gaza. May this site and the remembrance of our Lord’s Baptism continue to help strengthen us to be peacemakers in our world."

In remarks to media before the service, Younan thanked the king for the gift. "We are a church that wants to serve justice," Younan said. "We want all violence in Gaza to end. We want the occupation to end. We want to live in peace and justice in a two-state solution." Jerusalem should be a shared city for all people, he said.

Hanson, Johnson and Younan also shared a 20-minute private audience in Amman with His Majesty King Abdullah II. They discussed the future of Jerusalem as a shared city with universal access to Holy sites; the king’s commitment to the continued presence of Arab Christians in the Middle East; improved relationships between Christians and Muslims; and the urgent need to end the conflict in Gaza and respond to the humanitarian crisis, Hanson said. The king suggested continuing the conversation when he visits the United States in February to meet the new U.S. president, Barack Obama, the ELCA presiding bishop added.

The North American Lutheran bishops, spouses and staff left Jordan and traveled into Israel to Jerusalem, where they joined several other bishops from both churches. Forty-five bishops are in Israel Jan. 6-13 for their annual academy, a time for theological study and reflection. The bishops have planned a series of meetings with religious, political and community leaders in Israel and the West Bank. Some ELCA bishops canceled plans to join the academy because of the fighting in Gaza.

In opening remarks Jan. 6, the Rev. Dean Nelson, bishop, ELCA Southwest California Synod, Glendale, said the bishops’ visit has three purposes: to support and encourage the ELCJHL, to learn what living in the region is like for Israelis and Palestinians, and to advocate for peace for all people. Later the same evening, some bishops, spouses and staff attended an Orthodox Christmas celebration in Bethlehem.

The North American Lutheran bishops’ visit has gained greater visibility because of fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, compounded by rapidly declining living conditions for local residents. Since the fighting began right after Christmas, nearly 600 people have died, many of whom are Palestinian civilians.

(Files from ELCA News)

Further information about the Bishops’ trip is available online at: https://elcic.ca/From-the-Bishop/default.cfm

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 162,000 baptized members in 613 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

Material provided through ELCIC Information is intended for reproduction and redistribution by recipients in whatever manner they may find useful.

For more information, please contact:
Trina Gallop, Director of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

Subscribe or unsubscribe to ELCIC Information by emailing info@elcic.ca with a short message.

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ELCIC and ELCA Bishops Prepare for Uncertainty in Israel; Advance Group in Jordan

Despite the continued conflict in Gaza, bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) are proceeding with plans to travel Jan. 6 to the Middle East. A smaller group of seven ELCA bishops, including the ELCA presiding bishop and the national bishop of the ELCIC, spouses and staff arrived here for a series of meetings Jan. 3-5 with religious, community and political leaders.

The Lutheran leaders are here to provide support for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), to learn more about the realities of living in the Middle East and to advocate for peace.

Leading the bishops are the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, other leaders of the ELCA Conference of Bishops, and the Rev. Susan C. Johnson, ELCIC national bishop. The Rev. Munib A. Younan, bishop, ELCJHL, leads the host church.

Hanson, Younan and six ELCA bishops participated in worship services Jan. 4 at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, an ELCJHL congregation here. Hanson and Younan joined the Rev. Samer Azar, the congregation’s pastor, in the Christian rite of confirmation for six young people.

"Tonight we come as leaders from the United States and Canada to publicly commit ourselves to pray for peace in the Middle East," Hanson told the congregation. He said he fears people in the United States view the Middle East in its complexity, which prevents speaking clearly for an end to violence, for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, for a return to negotiations, for a reestablishment of human rights, and for an opening of borders so that medicine and basic necessities can get to the people of Gaza.

Hanson said his denomination will advocate for peace with political leaders and will pray for peace. He expressed appreciation for Jordan’s King Abdullah II for his efforts to stop the violence in Gaza, for sending humanitarian relief to people in Gaza, and for the king’s respect for deeper relationships between Muslims and Christians.

The North American bishops are here as part of their 2009 Academy, an annual time for theological reflection and study. Though planned for months, the visit is especially timely given the current conflict in Gaza between Hamas and Israel. Israel’s decision to send ground forces into Gaza has heightened concerns throughout the region.

Throughout the weekend, ELCIC and ELCA bishops and staff monitored the situation in Israel and Gaza. They met by conference call to discuss concerns. Options included reducing the size of the bishops’ delegation because of security concerns. Leaders determined that the visit should proceed as planned, with as many bishops from both churches participating as possible.

Following their itinerary here, the bishops plan to travel Jan. 6 to Jerusalem. They will be joined by about 29 more bishops from the ELCA and four more bishops of the ELCIC. That group will meet with religious, community and political leaders in Israel and the West Bank through Jan. 13.

Information about the 2009 Bishops’ Academy is at: http://blogs.elca.org/09cobacademy/

(ELCA News Service)

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 162,000 baptized members in 613 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

Material provided through ELCIC Information is intended for reproduction and redistribution by recipients in whatever manner they may find useful.

For more information, please contact:
Trina Gallop, Director of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

Subscribe or unsubscribe to ELCIC Information by emailing info@elcic.ca with a short message.

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ELCIC National Bishop Calls for Ceasefire in Gaza; ELCIC Members Encouraged to Join in Day of Justice and Peace on January 4

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) National Bishop Susan C. Johnson says the ELCIC joins with all people around the world calling for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the violence that erupted in Gaza during the Christmas season. Bishop Johnson asks all ELCIC members to join Middle East religious leaders who request that Sunday, January 4 be a day for justice and peace in the land of peace.

Referring to a recent statement by the heads of the churches in Jerusalem, Bishop Susan notes that, "the ELCIC joins with our sisters and brothers in praying, ‘to the Child in the manger to inspire the authorities and decision makers on both sides, the Israelis and Palestinians, for immediate action to end the current tragic situation in the Gaza Strip. We pray for the victims, the wounded and the broken-hearted. May the Lord God Almighty grant all those who have lost loved ones consolation and patience. We pray for all those living in panic and fear, that God may bless them with calm, tranquility and true peace.’"

The call for solidarity comes as bishops of the ELCIC and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) prepare to visit religious, government and community leaders, congregations and schools in Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. The visit was scheduled months ago as part of an annual bishops’ academy, a time of theological reflection and study.

The National Bishop, four Synod Bishops, and at least 39 bishops of the ELCA, including Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson, plus many spouses and 14 ELCA churchwide staff are expected to make the January 6-13 visit. A smaller delegation will visit Jordan beginning January 3. The visit is intended to show support for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), led by its bishop, the Rev. Munib A. Younan, and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). The bishops also want to learn more about the complexities in the region, and promote just and peaceful solutions to the conflict.

"This is a tragic yet opportune time for North American Lutherans to visit their partners in Palestine," said Bishop Younan, also an LWF vice president, in a news release. "They will have a unique opportunity to witness the challenges of living in this disputed land."

Leading the delegations from the North American Lutheran churches are Bishop Johnson and Presiding Bishop Hanson. The visit is being coordinated with staff and leaders from both churches, the ELCJHL and the LWF.

As the bishops prepare for their visit, both the ELCIC and ELCA are monitoring events in the region. This week bishops and staff of both churches met several times by conference call.

"There was a lot of discussion about whether we should go ahead with the trip given the eruption of violence in the area," says Bishop Johnson. "But in the end it was a simple decision to make. If we truly want to be a church In Mission for Others, if we truly want to work for compassionate justice, then now more than ever this is the time for us to visit the region and do our best to fulfil the goals of the trip – awareness, accompaniment and advocacy."

Members of the ELCA and ELCIC are encouraged to pray for the bishops as they prepare and embark on the trip.

The ELCIC continues to accept financial gifts to assist relief efforts at Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), an LWF facility on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. AVH responds to the medical needs of cancer and dialysis patients from Gaza. To make a financial gift to assist AVH, visit: CanadaHelps.org (and indicate GHDA-AVH in the message field).

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

Material provided through ELCIC Information is intended for reproduction and redistribution by recipients in whatever manner they may find useful.

For more information, please contact:
Trina Gallop, Director of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

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ELCIC Announces New Mission in the World Partnership with ELCA; ELCIC/CLWR Seek New Ways to Support Volunteer Placement Program

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) announces an agreement in principal with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is in place to work towards the integration of the ELCIC’s Mission in the World (MW) program with the ELCA’s Global Mission Unit.

In March of 2008, the ELCIC’s National Church Council identified five organizing pillars to guide and support the national church in our work as a church In Mission for Others. The organizing pillars – Diverse Faces, Compassionate Justice, Focused Framework, Spirited Discipleship and especially Effective Partnerships – have been key as the ELCIC has sought out areas where there are existing synergies in place to develop closer working relationships.

Over the coming months, ELCIC MW and ELCA Global Mission staff will work together to transition towards this new approach to world mission for the ELCIC. The partnership will result in, "opening doors to additional programming and resources to ELCIC members that they wouldn’t otherwise have," says ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson.

In addition to accessing programs and resources, the resulting partnership will assist the ELCIC in addressing the realities of the current financial situation of the church. Projections on income indicate a significant shortfall in the national budget. As the ELCIC MW program transitions over to ELCA Global Mission, the position of Mission in the World coordinator, filled by Kelvin Krieger, will be phased out by June 2009.

"I give thanks to God for the faithful service and dedication to the mission and ministry of this church that Kelvin Krieger has provided over these many years," says Bishop Johnson. "When Kelvin realized our choices were to move the administration of the World Mission program to the ELCA or to cut an ELCIC missionary position, he agreed with the decision to move in this direction. I really appreciate his willingness to help us in the transition period and to share his years of expertise."

Along with pursuing new opportunities through the ELCA Global Mission partnership, including avenues to enhance Companion Synod relationships, the ELCIC is continuing the current long-term missionary placements (Rev. Brian Rude, Lori Endress, and Rev. Fran Schmidt), Amazon Mission, Patagonia Mission and existing partner church grants. ELCIC members and congregations are encouraged to assist with expressions of support for ELCIC MW’s Mission & Missionary Sponsorship program.

ELCIC/CLWR Seek New Ways to Support Volunteer Placement Program

In 2006, the ELCIC and Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) initiated a three-year shared staff arrangement resulting in the engagement of Sister Monica Denk as Coordinator of ELCIC Volunteers in Mission (VIM) and CLWR International Volunteer Services (IVS)

While there has been a positive response from constituents, including a growing number of placements and a heightened level of interest in volunteering, financial realities dictate the consideration of new administrative options for the future in support of both VIM and IVS.

Sister Denk will complete her term in October 2009. In the interim, ELCIC and CLWR will consider options to enable volunteer activities to continue. ELCIC members interested in volunteering their services should continue to contact Sister Denk.

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

Material provided through ELCIC Information is intended for reproduction and redistribution by recipients in whatever manner they may find useful.

For more information, please contact:
Trina Gallop, Director of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

Subscribe or unsubscribe to ELCIC Information by emailing info@elcic.ca with a short message.

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Christmas Touched by the Spirit of Full Communion

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) Bishop Susan Johnson and Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) Primate Fred Hiltz speak of the Prince of Peace and share Christmas memories in a special joint message now available online at https://elcic.ca/From-the-Bishop/default.cfm.

The ELCIC and ACC have been in full communion since 2001, when the Waterloo Declaration asserted their similarities and allowed for interchangeability of clergy.

The four-minute Christmas video message can be downloaded for use in parishes and elsewhere. A transcript is also available.

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

Material provided through ELCIC Information is intended for reproduction and redistribution by recipients in whatever manner they may find useful.

For more information, please contact:
Trina Gallop, Director of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

Subscribe or unsubscribe to ELCIC Information by emailing info@elcic.ca with a short message.

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ELCIC Seeks Nominations to Put Forward to Search Committee for Lutheran World Federation General Secretary

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) is asking members to consider submitting nominations to put forward for the position of General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).

As a member church, the ELCIC is invited to submit nominations for the chief administrative position of the LWF. Nominations for consideration are to be submitted in writing along with curricula vitae to ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson (email: info@elcic.ca, fax: 204-984-9185). Deadline for submissions is Thursday, December 4, 2008.

In a May 19, 2008 letter from the current LWF General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko informed the LWF Council of his intention to conclude his service as General Secretary on October 31, 2010.

The term for General Secretary is seven years and may be renewed for one term.

Nominations received by the ELCIC will be reviewed by its Executive Officers with recommendations to be brought forward to National Church Council for official nomination to the LWF Search Committee. LWF member churches are able to nominate more than one candidate. ELCIC nominations need not be a member of the ELCIC but must belong to an LWF member church.

A job description for the position of LWF General Secretary is available on the ELCIC’s website: https://elcic.ca/Leadership/Employment-Opportunities/Job-Postings.cfm

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

Material provided through ELCIC Information is intended for reproduction and redistribution by recipients in whatever manner they may find useful.

For more information, please contact:
Trina Gallop, Director of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

Subscribe or unsubscribe to ELCIC Information by emailing info@elcic.ca with a short message.

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Lutheran and Anglican Bishops remind Minister Finley of Election Promise on Housing

Archbishop Fred Hiltz and Bishop Susan Johnson sent a reminder today to Minister Diane Finley, the newly appointed Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development to live up to a pre-election promise that a Conservative government would renew three key programs for affordable housing in Canada.

The three programs are: the Affordable Housing Initiative and the Homelessness Partnering Strategy, offering support to hundreds of community programs and services across Canada, and the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program directed to the repair of more than 20,000 substandard houses annually. These funding programs were due to expire by March 2009.

“We remind you of [your] commitment” the church leaders’ letter says, “and urge you now to announce a quick release of funds so there can be a smooth continuation of these vital programs.”
The request echoes a letter the two leaders sent earlier this year to Monte Solberg, then Minister of Human Resources and Development Canada, a message that was repeated in hundreds of similar letters sent by Anglicans and Lutherans across Canada.

One week before National Housing Day, November 22, Hiltz and Johnson are calling for an immediate renewal of affordable housing programs and a comprehensive national housing strategy as part of an overall poverty reduction initiative.

Their letter echoes the one they sent in March but with a new twist: an affordable housing strategy is good not only for the homeless and those at risk, but also for Canada’s economy.

Quoting an article in the Toronto Star by economists Donner, Yalnizyan and McCracken, they point out, “Acting today on affordable housing can provide a much needed boost to the economy during bad times while reducing economic insecurity and building assets for the long term.”

The two church leaders urge immediate action:. “A positive response by your government, with specific action on commitments, by Friday, November 21 [the eve of National Housing Day] would offer hope to Canadian families and individuals hard hit by the housing crisis.”

The full text of their letter follows

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November 14, 2008

The Honourable Diane Finley
Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Finley,

We write as Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and congratulate you on your recent appointment to cabinet. We will keep you, and other members of your government in our prayers during these challenging times.

This letter follows on previous correspondence from us and other church leaders, consistently calling on the government of Canada to act in response to the homeless and those at risk of losing their housing. It is estimated that between 150,000 to 300,000 Canadians are homeless, and an additional 1.5 million are at risk of becoming homeless. Rental rates are increasing, while household incomes of rental families are decreasing. In October 2007, the UN Special Rapporteur on Housing called homelessness in Canada a “national emergency”.

We acknowledge with appreciation that in March 2006, the government of Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper disbursed $1.4 billion in a one-time allocation for affordable housing.

We further acknowledge the September 17 announcement made by Ministers John Baird and Monte Solberg pledging that a Conservative government would renew the Affordable Housing Initiative, the Homelessness Partnering Strategy, and the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program.

We remind you of this commitment, and urge you now to announce a quick release of the funds so there can be a smooth continuation of these vital programs. The homelessness funding initiatives support hundreds of vital program and services in communities across Canada, while the housing repair programs improve more than 20,000 substandard homes annually.

The current economic crisis makes the need for an in-depth, long-term affordable housing initiative more urgent than ever before. We see the federal government as a vital partner with provincial and territorial governments and other key sectors. The slowing economy threatens to increase the ranks of the homeless, forcing people at risk into deplorable housing conditions, often paying half or more of their income in rent.

An affordable housing strategy makes good economic sense. We commend to your attention the words of economists Arthur Donner, Mike McCracken and Armine Yalnizyan who recently wrote that: “An investment in residential construction that creates affordable housing options can help keep thousands of middle-class workers employed. Acting today on affordable housing can provide a much-needed boost to the economy during bad times while reducing economic insecurity and building assets for the long term.” (Toronto Star, Oct. 21, 2008).

Thus we are asking your government to:

Join with the provinces to develop a comprehensive housing strategy as a part of an overall national poverty reduction strategy.

Immediately renew and expand housing spending over a ten-year period as a part of a comprehensive national housing strategy.

Direct particular funding to groups on the margins of our society, especially people of low income, the elderly, persons with disabilities, recent immigrants and refugees, and Aboriginal people.
Anglicans and Lutherans are engaged across Canada in providing food, shelter and clothing to Canada’s lowest income people. Many are providing housing to special needs groups or redeveloping property into social housing. These initiatives cannot continue without housing dollars committed by your government. Together, we wish to extend a hand of partnership to ensure long term and lasting solutions to homelessness.

In the Hebrew Scriptures the prophet Isaiah asks what true religious observance is: “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?” (Isaiah 58.7) Our vision is to go beyond the prophet’s call, to create a society where the hungry are able to eat their own bread, and the homeless poor are brought into their own house.

This issue is urgent, even more so when a perceived scarcity of resources threatens to call into question previously stated priorities of your government. We respectfully request a prompt reply signalling that your government will take quick and decisive action. November 22 is National Housing Day, when Canadians from coast to coast draw attention to affordable housing issues. A positive response by your government, with specific action on commitments, by Friday November 21 would offer hope to Canadian families and individuals hard hit by the housing crisis.

Thank you for respecting the urgency of this request.

Sincerely,

The Most Reverend Fred Hiltz
Primate, The Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Susan Johnson
National Bishop, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

c.c. The Hon. Mike Savage the Hon. Tony Martin, the Hon. Yves Lessard.

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ELCIC Conference of Bishops and ACC House of Bishops Hold Joint Meetings; Commitment to Partnership and Deepening of Full Communion Relationship Expressed

From October 27 to 31, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s (ELCIC) Conference of Bishops and the Anglican Church of Canada’s (ACC) House of Bishops have been meeting jointly in Niagara, Ontario. In a letter sent from the ELCIC today, the Conference of Bishops express their commitment to, "walking in partnership with our sisters and brothers of the Anglican Church of Canada, and continuing to work to deepen our full communion relationship."

A copy of the full text of the letter follows: 

Dear friends,

We, the Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, write to you having just concluded five days of joint meetings with the Anglican House of Bishops. It was a particular honour and a privilege, and a sign of our deepening full communion relationship, to be present during the discussion on the agreement by many bishops at Lambeth on three moratoria: on the blessing of same-sex unions, on the ordination to the episcopate of people in same-gender relationships, and on cross-border interventions.

The diversity of opinions expressed reflects a similar diversity that we experience within our own church. We, too, continue to seek to discern the mind and heart of Christ for the wholesome care of all members of his Body, the Church. We echo the desire to “stay at the family table” and commit to walking in partnership with our sisters and brothers of the Anglican Church of Canada, and continuing to work to deepen our full communion relationship.

Yours in Christ,

+ The Rev. Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop
+ The Rev. Gerhard Preibisch, Bishop of the British Columbia Synod
+ The Rev. Ron Mayan, Bishop of the Synod of Alberta and the Territories
+ The Rev. Cynthia Halmarson, Bishop of the Saskatchewan Synod
+ The Rev. Elaine Sauer, Bishop of the Manitoba-Northwestern Ontario Synod
+ The Rev. Michael J. Pryse, Bishop of the Eastern Synod 

View a pdf version of the letter here: www.elcic.ca/Documents/documents/2008LettertoACCHouseofBishops.pdf

The ACC House of Bishops also released a statement at the conclusion of their meetings. The full version is available online at: www.anglican.ca/news/news.php?newsItem=2008-10-31_hob.news

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 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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