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A message from Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson

Statement on Hurricanes, September 12, 2008
A message from Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you…. Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you….” (Isaiah 43:1-2,4a)

As I write, yet another hurricane is threatening the Gulf Coast. This one is only the latest in a seemingly endless series of storms that have brought hardship, destruction, fear and even death to brothers and sisters in the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean, especially Haiti. The relentless destruction reminds us that the rebuilding of lives continues in other areas that have been affected by floods, tornadoes, fires and other disasters.

I call on you to respond in the midst of danger and loss. While some are preparing for storms yet to come, others are fleeing from storms, and still others are rebuilding in the aftermath of disasters. I ask you to respond with your prayers, your generous gifts of time and money, your volunteer hours and skills, the open doors of your homes and churches, and your commitment to a sustaining presence for the long haul. Visit ELCA Disaster Response for updates, for downloadable bulletin inserts, and for ways to make contributions online.

These expressions of our faith remind us that we are called by name and are bound together by our baptisms into community with those who suffer. Thank you for your generous and sustaining response in the midst of the disasters.

God’s work. Our hands.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Climate Change and World Hunger

Two nights ago, CNN aired coverage of former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Al Gore’s endorsement speech of Sen. Barack Obama in Detroit, Michigan. Given Gore’s involvement in climate change work, he spent some time building the case that, indeed, “we need to change our policies on climate change.” He focused on what future generations might say when they look back and review our actions. Mr. Gore is quoted,

“I want [future generations] to look back on this historic year and ask: how did Americans in 2008 find the moral courage to rise and successfully solve a crisis that so many said was impossible to solve? How did they find the strength to change?”

I think it is interesting to consider a simple change from “Americans” to “Lutherans” or “Christians” or maybe even “Peoples of Faith.” In ELCA World Hunger and the ELCA Washington Office, we accept the scientific data that the Earth’s temperature is rising. We realize that people living in poverty, who may also be located in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries, are already seeing substantial impacts from global warming. We recognize that there are concrete connections between hunger, poverty, and climate change.

In a time such as this, I think we, as citizens, are fortunate because we have two, mainstream party presidential candidates, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama, who both recognize and care about climate change. The candidates have different approaches to working against the problem, but both are thinking about it!

Similarly, I think we, as ELCA Lutherans, are blessed to have a church that is actively engaged in the discussion about climate change. We are blessed to have a prophetically concerned voice in Bishop Mark S. Hanson, who, in his April 2007 Earth Day statement said, “The poor and hungry of the earth are most vulnerable to rising sea levels, the spread of infectious disease, extending areas of drought, and other impacts of rising temperatures, many of which are already occurring.”

Perhaps, when the 7th or the 1000th generation looks back to our time, they will see intentional care for God’s creation and all of God’s children. Change will not be easy or quick, but it certainly seems to be dawning on the horizon. It is an exciting time to be alive and engaged in God’s good work and in God’s world!

Stay tuned for next week when I “reveal” exciting information about a new ELCA World Hunger resource, relating to climate change and hunger, for all of you hunger leaders and peace and justice workers out there!

For more information:

The ELCA Washington Office Advocacy Page on Environment

Sen. John McCain’s Climate Change Site

Sen. Barack Obama’s Energy and Environment Site