Back to ELCA Blogs
Pages
  • No categories
  • 2009 Conference of Bishops

    More than half of the 66 bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the ELCA secretary, and five of the six bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), plus spouses and staff visited the Middle East, Jan. 6-13, 2009.

    Christians Express Fear, Concern to North American Lutheran Bishops

    Posted on January 15, 2009 by Paul Edison-Swift
    Jan. 13 meeting in Ramallah with Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayaad, right, and, from left, Bishop Margaret Payne, ELCA New England Synod; ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson; ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan; and ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson.

    Jan. 13 meeting in Ramallah with Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayaad, right, and, from left, Bishop Margaret Payne, ELCA New England Synod; ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson; ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan; and ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson.

    RAMALLAH, West Bank (ELCA) — Israel is targeting the small Palestinian Christian community here, threatening a key connection to the West and worrying Christian leaders, said Dr. Rafiq Husseini, chief of staff to the president, Palestinian National Authority. He made the comment Jan. 13 in a meeting here with seven North American Lutheran bishops.

    The bishops were part of a group of 44 bishops representing the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), who visited the West Bank and Israel Jan. 6-13. The bishops met with religious, political and community leaders, and visited sacred sites. Their visit focused on support and encouragement for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL).

    More than 1,000 Palestinians have died and nearly 5,000 have been injured in the war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza. Many of the dead and injured are women, children and elderly people. “Civilians are paying the price,” Husseini said. Thirteen Israelis have died.

    The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop and president of the Lutheran World Federation, said the committee’s comments were disturbing and showed regression for Christians here. He said the war in Gaza fails to meet the test of Christian “just war” principles and the Israeli response to Hamas is disproportionate.

    “As leaders we are called to obstruct injustices and (to) open doors,” he said. Hanson pledged that Lutherans in the United States will engage the Obama administration, which he hopes will exercise power in ways different than the Bush administration has.

    “The war in Gaza has made it difficult for us as moderates. Extremists are winning the day,” Hanson said. He pledged to use his influence to help U.S. religious leaders speak with one voice on the Middle East.

    < more >

    North American Lutheran Bishops Meet Key Muslim Leader, Discuss Peace

    Posted on January 15, 2009 by Paul Edison-Swift
    ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson greets Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Al-Tamini, supreme judge, Islamic Shari'a Courts, Palestine, Jan. 13 in Ramallah.  To Hanson's right is ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson, and facing Al-Tamini is ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan.

    ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson greets Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Al-Tamini, supreme judge, Islamic Shari’a Courts, Palestine, Jan. 13 in Ramallah. To Hanson’s right is ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson, and facing Al-Tamini is ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan.

    RAMALLAH, West Bank (ELCA) — A key Muslim leader here told a group of seven North American Lutheran bishops Jan. 13 that Christians and Muslims must work together for peace and justice. Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Al-Tamini, supreme judge of the Islamic Shari’a Courts in Palestine, suggested that world Muslim and Christian leaders meet soon and deliver “a strong message to the world” for peace in the wake of failed political negotiations and escalating violence in Gaza.

    The bishops were part of a group of 44 bishops representing the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), who visited the West Bank and Israel Jan. 6-13. The bishops met with religious, political and community leaders, and visited religious sites. Their visit focused on support and encouragement for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL).

    Al-Tamini is a member of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, consisting of Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders. He noted that half the world’s population is either Christian or Muslim. “It is our destiny to live together as Muslims and Christians with mutual respect,” he said. The sheikh said he hopes Israel will end its occupation of Palestinian land and end discriminatory policies toward Palestinians.

    < more >

    videoblog 6 – Highlights from Jan. 11-12

    Posted on January 13, 2009 by Paul Edison-Swift

    a montage from Jan. 11-12

    videoblog 6 - Highlights - Jan. 11-12

    Tree Power

    Posted on January 12, 2009 by

    By Daniel J. Lehmann

    Monday found Lutheran bishops from North America planting olive trees, praying for peace and understanding along a separation wall and listening to students at a West Bank school speak frankly about their future.

    Leaders of the ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada ventured to the village of Beddo, near the city of Ramallah and north of Jerusalem to plant the hardy trees in a wasteland of trash, construction debris and destroyed arbors.

    The ground sits below an Israeli settlement along a separation wall dividing Israelis from Palestinians. The Palestinian-owned hillside was strewn with debris reportedly dumped there by the settlers.

    Some 90 bishops, spouses and church staff planted the trees in an attempt to reclaim some of the devastated landscape.

    They then gathered at a nearby gate along the separation wall to pray for peace. They did so under the watchful eye of an Israeli police crew.

    The bishops are in the Middle East in an effort to stress accompaniment with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, raise awareness of regional issues and boost advocacy for peace.

    Earlier in the day, they visited Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah. The school educates 482 Christian and Muslim students. High-school age students sat with bishops in question and answer sessions that focused primarily on the fighting in the Gaza Strip and the students’ future in the West Bank.

    In one group, five of eight students said they planned to emigrate when they’re finished with school. They spoke frankly of their anger with Israel for what they said was an overly violent assault on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

    “We are not animals, we have feelings, we are human beings,” said Majdi Habash.

    The bishops conclude their visit Tuesday with tours to three other schools on the West Bank.

    North American Lutheran Bishops Preach at Middle East Worship

    Posted on January 12, 2009 by Paul Edison-Swift
    The congregation at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Jerusalem, Jan. 11 included students and faculty from four ELCA seminaries: The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, S.C., and Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio.

    The congregation at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Jerusalem, Jan. 11 included students and faculty from four ELCA seminaries: The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, S.C., and Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio.

    BETHLEHEM, West Bank (ELCA) — 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.

    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.

    < more >