The Rev. Claire Burkat, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, joined other Christian and interfaith leaders Sept. 22 for the opening ceremony and Mass for the World Meeting of Families 2015 Conference. The conference, the world’s largest gathering of Catholic families, is being held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia Sept. 22-25 in anticipation of Pope Francis’ visit to the city Sept. 26-27.
“Many Lutherans are welcoming Catholic families from all over the world in their churches and in their homes,” wrote Burkat in a letter to Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. “We all want to extend hospitality to the body of Christ to show our excitement and respect for you and the Holy Father by caring for the faithful that are making the pilgrimage to our city of brotherly and sisterly love.”
Several ELCA congregations in Philadelphia are hosting visitors who have traveled to the city for the pope’s visit.
“We are celebrating God’s welcome,” said the Rev. Karin Hart, pastor of Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion. “We are opening our doors to those who seek sanctuary during the papal visit.”
Holy Communion members are hosting 150 visitors from Maryland; Washington, D.C.; and Boston. Other host congregations include Trinity Lutheran, where more than 250 visitors will stay, and Atonement Lutheran, which will house at least 150 people during the week.