The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) dedicated day of service – known as “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday – will take place Sept. 11, 2016. The day offers an opportunity for the 3.7 million-member church to extend the work they do in their communities every day, ranging from preparing and delivering meals to people rendered homeless to thanking emergency responders. The 2016 dedicated day of service will also mark the 15-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks on the United States.
“The world can be a dangerous place. But there are some who, when disaster strikes, run toward the danger. These are the first responders, firefighters, police and EMTs, who live out their baptismal vocation in service to their communities in times of intense need. They do God’s work with their hands,” said ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton.
In 2016 “God’s work. Our Hands” Sunday “will be on Sept. 11,” Eaton said. “The Rev. Stephen Bouman, executive director for ELCA Congregational and Synodical Mission and former bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan New York Synod at the time of Sept. 11, recounts this story. He had a pastor in his synod who was a chaplain to the fire department. When the first plane hit the first tower, the chaplain rushed to the site where firefighters were mustering. He prayed with them and then took oil and marked their foreheads with the cross. Then the firefighters rushed into the building. The people who survived said they could see the crosses shining on the foreheads of the firefighters.
“In baptism we have been marked with the cross. We are the ones who go into the broken places of the world. We are the ones who, by showing up on ‘God’s work. Our hands.’ Sunday, shine the light of the cross in our communities.”
Since 2013, thousands of ELCA congregations have dedicated a day to serve communities in ways that share the love of God with all people. Congregations are encouraged to select another day if Sept. 11, 2016, is not feasible. Resources designed to help congregations prepare for their day in 2016 will be available soon at www.ELCA.org/dayofservice. A video highlighting the 2015 dedicated day of service is available here https://vimeo.com/elca/review/145542901/25f0d2a585.