ELCIC National and Synodical Officers Meet in Winnipeg for Consultation; Evangelism, Outreach and Stewardship Key to Living Out Call to be a Church In Mission for Others

From February 6-8, the officers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) and its five synods, along with an observer from the Evangelical Lutheran Women, met in Winnipeg for a facilitated consultation. Officers examined current resource trends affecting the ELCIC, explored the impact of current and future financial challenges, and discussed the necessity to consider structural change to administration and programs.

While work in preparation for the meeting had begun months ago in order to provide a broad understanding of the current realities facing the church, the consultation is considered to be starting point for future dialogue that is critical at all levels within the ELCIC.

"There is a broad consensus in the leadership across our church that we need to work together to address the financial challenges facing our church," says National Bishop Susan C. Johnson. "We agree we need some form of smaller administrative structure to allow us to focus on being a church In Mission for Others."

The agenda for the meeting, which both commenced and concluded with a service of Holy Communion, involved participants in both large group and small group settings.

In response to a draft discussion paper prepared by a Resource Generation Task Force appointed by the National Bishop in May 2008, which details the patterns of financial support in the church over the past two decades, makes predictions for the future and identifies opportunities for increased financial support, the consultation participants expressed strong encouragement for the task force to continue its work. The officers identified an urgent need for conversation on structural change to continue and expressed a willingness to "keep everything on the table" as discussions proceed.

Officers also expressed a need for increased attention in the areas of evangelism, outreach and stewardship as the ELCIC seeks to live out the call to be a church In Mission for Others.

Outcomes and recommendations from the National/Synodical consultation will be forwarded on to the ELCIC’s National Church Council which meets in Winnipeg from March 5-7, 2009.

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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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Lenten Resources Now Available

GHDA and CLWR have once again produced resources which may be used to guide your Lenten discipline of prayer and reflection. They are easy to download and print for use in your home or congregation. To access these resources, click on "What We Do" and scroll to Global Hunger and Development Appeal.

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ELCIC and ELCA Bishops Reflect on Recent Trip to Middle East; Amid Darkness Bishops Witness Signs of Hope

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) National Bishop Susan C. Johnson and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson released a report today reflecting on their recent visit to the Holy Land and sharing stories of both the darkness and light they experienced as part of the journey. The trip allowed the bishops to witness first-hand, "the daily and increasing limitations of human rights in the region," which they felt would be impossible to do without travelling to the Middle East and, "talking with people about their experiences and hopes and fears."

The North American leaders, 42 synod bishops, as well as spouses and staff members, participated in a weeklong series of meetings with religious, political and community leaders in Israel and the West Bank from January 6-13. The trip, part of the 2009 Bishops’ Academy, had been in the works for over two years and was planned, "as a witness to God’s will for a just peace for all people and as an expression of accompaniment with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) and ministries of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF)," says the report.

Just weeks prior to the start of the trip violence broke out in Gaza raising concerns about the safety of academy attendees. After prayerful consideration and communication with people who live and work in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, the trip continued as planned. Reflecting on the decision to proceed, the leaders say the situation in Gaza provided a dramatic backdrop to the travels and for their conversations with people from different faiths and viewpoints who endure fear and bear oppression in ways the bishops have never known.

With scripture and worship framing the daily agenda, the bishops say they felt God’s Word coming alive in startling and powerful ways which further shaped their days and learning. At many points along the way, the Bishop’s worshipped with members of the ELCJHL including at Jesus’ baptismal site in Jordan, on the Mount of Olives, at the Separation Wall, and in the Church of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem where, "Lutherans were invited to celebrate the Eucharist for the first time ever in a small stone chapel marked with stations of the cross."

Bishop Johnson and Hanson say they commend Bishop Munib Younan, leader of the ELCJHL, for his tireless work for peace in the Middle East and feel that the trip provided an opportunity for awareness and, "fuller knowledge of the ‘facts on the ground’ – the cruel details of the burden of occupation for the Palestinian people that go unreported in our countries and a deeper understanding of Israeli reactions to hateful rhetoric and killing rockets." From this understanding, the bishops hope advocacy will emerge, including a call to advocate for justice and peace that is central to Christian discipleship.

In addition to the darkness, "the strangulation of occupation, the diminishing Christian population, the remembrance of the Holocaust, the fear of war," the bishops say they saw light, "the contagious joy of Palestinian children at the School of Hope, the shared witness of an Israeli and a Palestinian who both lost loved ones and now work together to end the killing cycle of revenge, sharing Shabbat worship in synagogues where congregations prayed for peace in both Hebrew and Arabic, the powerful healing ministry of Augusta Victoria Hospital, and the determined presence in Bethlehem and Jerusalem of Lutheran ministries that transform lives and keep hope alive."

As an affirmation of the difficult decision to continue with the trip as planned, the bishops heard many variations of the words, "You came at just the right time to uphold our spirit."

Just as the 2009 Bishops’ Academy concluded, prayers for a cease-fire in the region were answered. The bishops say they, "pray that negotiation can continue so that the attacks can be halted from both sides and humanitarian aid can be provided for those who are in need of food, medical attention, and housing."

A full version of the "Report and Reflections from the Bishops’ Academy Visit to the Holy Land" is online: https://www.elcic.ca/Documents/academyreportJan09FINAL.pdf

Highlights, pictures and news releases from the 2009 Bishops’ Academy can be viewed online: 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 National Bishop Calls for Prayers for Zimbabwe on January 25

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) National Bishop Susan C. Johnson says the ELCIC joins in solidarity with Africans and others around the world in praying for a return to peace to Zimbabwe and, "calls on all ELCIC congregations to pray for our Zimbabwean sisters and brothers," on Sunday, January 25.

At the 9th General Assembly of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), the Assembly declared January 25 as African Day of Prayer and Fasting for Zimbabwe.

The call for prayer comes at a time of increasing need for the people of Zimbabwe. In a letter sent by Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko on December 16 to LWF member churches in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Noko urged advocacy to the region’s governments and leaders, "to act in the most responsible – but determined and unwavering – manner to relieve Zimbabweans of the burden they have already carried for far too long."

The economic, political and social decline in Zimbabwe has taken a disastrous toll on the country’s food supply and medical institutions: the BBC reports that 5 million people, almost half the entire population, are in need of food; a cholera epidemic has spread to over 37,000 people and killed 2,200; the Zimbabwe dollar has inflated at such an alarming rate that it has been rendered usless to the point where most people must use foreign currency to pay for basic necessities.

Congregations may wish to use the following prayer on Sunday, January 25:

O God of hope, sovereign of the nations, today, with the All Africa Conference of Churches, we pray for all Zimbabweans and their wounded nation, also remembering before you our sisters and brothers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe. Help the people of Zimbabwe, with the support of others, to find a process for building peace in which all national actors, regional organizations and the international community are engaged. Give us courage, in whatever ways we can, to support the people of Zimbabwe in rebuilding their nation with peace and justice for all. We pray this in the name of our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

The full statement from LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko is at: http://www.lutheranworld.org/News/LWI/EN/2311.EN.html
The LWF Council Public Statement on Zimbabwe is at: http://www.lutheranworld.org/News/LWI/EN/2230.EN.html

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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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Lutheran Bishops Plant Olive Trees, Pray at Israeli Separation Barrier

North American Lutheran bishops visited this small Palestinian village in the West Bank, northwest of Jerusalem, an area where the Israeli separation barrier cuts through Palestinian agricultural lands, making way for Israeli settlements to be constructed. Many of the bishops helped plant olive trees near the barrier as signs of peace.

Forty-four bishops representing the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) are participating in a weeklong series of meetings with religious, political and community leaders in Israel and the West Bank, and visiting religious sites. Their visit, concluding Jan. 13, also focuses on support and encouragement for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), which is timely because of the war in Gaza.

Some 500 trees are to be planted here eventually. Before they left, the bishops visited a local Palestinian man’s home, now surrounded on three sides by a tall metal barrier. Newly constructed Israeli settlements surround his home on the other side of the fence on land that was once his, he said. The bishops prayed at the barrier before leaving.

In remarks here, Adnan Husseini, governor of Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority, said life in the area was difficult for residents because of the barrier. "We need permission to move in and out of the wall," he said. "If we want to build a Palestinian state, we have to move in this state."

The bishops visited this area to do two things, said the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop. "We will cry out songs of lament for all people, and we will plant olive trees here as a sign of commitment for the generations to come … to see olive trees, not walls."

The Rev. Susan C. Johnson, ELCIC national bishop, promised to remember the people.

"We promise we will return home and continue to accompany you," she said. "We will speak to our governments, and we will work for a just peace for all in this land."

Earlier in the day, the bishops visited the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah, a coeducational school. The school is one of four schools and four educational programs operated through the ELCJHL. The bishops and spouses were entertained by the school’s Al Raja Dance Troupe, and conversed with several students.

Majdi Habash, an 11th grader, and Mohammad Omar, a 10th grader, said they don’t know whether they will leave the West Bank once they complete school. They said their parents worry that they won’t return.

Omar said he hopes "the U.S. will look at us and Israelis as equals" under the new Obama administration. He said he wants the administration to help Palestinians and not give more weapons to Israel.

People in the United States do not have a clear picture about Palestinians, said Deema Beides, an 11th grader. "Please tell the truth about us," she told the bishops. "We’re not fighting for something that is not ours (land). The conflict is not about religion."

"Please let (others) know the truth," said Rana Burqan, a 10th grader. "Let them know that children in Gaza have a right to live. There’s no difference between Muslims and Christians. We’re all Palestinians."

The bishops concluded their day with dinner at the International Center of Bethlehem. Several local church representatives attended.

(Files from ELCA News.)

Further details on the 2009 Bishops’ Academy Trip to the Middle East can be viewed online: http://2009bishopsacademy.wordpress.com/

Information about the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope is at http://www.elcjhl.org/ed/schools/hope/hope.asp on the Web.

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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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North American Lutheran Bishops Preach at Middle East Worship

Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) attended and preached at worship services Jan. 11 at five Lutheran congregations in Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank.

Forty-four bishops representing both churches are participating in a series of meetings Jan. 6-13 with religious, political and community leaders in Israel and the West Bank, and visiting religious sites. Their visit also focuses on support and encouragement for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL).

ELCJHL congregations and bishops who preached were:
+ Evangelical Lutheran Church of Beit Sahour, Beit Sahour: The Rev. Bruce H. Burnside, ELCA South-Central Synod of Wisconsin (based in Madison)
+ Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Jerusalem: The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop (Chicago)
+ Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope, Ramallah: The Rev. Susan C. Johnson, ELCIC national bishop (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
+ Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Beit Jala: The Rev. Margaret G. Payne, ELCA New England Synod (Worcester, Mass.)
+ Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church, Bethlehem: The Rev. Floyd M. Schoenhals, ELCA Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod (Tulsa, Okla.)

The Jerusalem congregation celebrated worship in Arabic and English, led by the Rev. Ibrahim Azar, pastor of the Arabic- speaking congregation, and the Rev. Mark Holman, pastor of the English-speaking congregation. The worship theme was Jesus’ Baptism.

In his sermon, Hanson told the congregation that God’s word of promise for all is that "the heavens are still opened and the Spirit of God is still descending."

"In Baptism God commissions us and promises us the strength of the Holy Spirit for the struggle for peace with justice. How good it is that, even in the midst of occupation and war and violence, we have something to say, and that is that Jesus the Christ, crucified and risen, continues to accompany us," the ELCA presiding bishop said.

"The liberating gift of Christ through faith by God’s grace is that Christ continues to accompany us as we accompany you, Palestinian Christians, in your struggle for justice and peace," he said.

Some of the visitors for worship at the Church of the Redeemer represented four ELCA seminaries: the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago; the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia; the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, S.C.; and Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio. Students and faculty from the seminaries were in the Middle East as part of their "J-term" programs in which the Lutherans tour and study in different regions of the world each January.

Following worship the North American bishops, spouses and staff were hosted by member families for lunch throughout Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Information about the 2009 Bishops’ Academy is at: http://2009bishopsacademy.wordpress.com/

(Files from ELCA News)
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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 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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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

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.

Read more