EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have issued a joint statement calling for prayer, fasting and advocacy.

The statement, For Such a Time as This: A Call to Prayer, Fasting, and Advocacy, calls for fasting on the 21st of each month through December 2018, at which time the 115th Congress will conclude.

The 21st of each month is targeted because by that time each month, 90% of SNAP (formerly food stamp) benefits have been used, thereby causing the last week of the month as the hungry week in America.

The fast will launch with a group of national and local leaders doing a three-day fast together May 21-23. These leaders include Presiding Bishop Curry, Presiding Bishop Eaton, and leadership throughout the Episcopal Church.

#ForSuchATime

Video messages

A video by Presiding Bishop Curry is here

 A transcript of the video is located at the end.

A video by Presiding Bishop Eaton is here

Joint statement

The joint statement of Presiding Bishop Curry and Presiding Bishop Eaton is here:

 

“For Such a Time As This”

Joint Call to Prayer, Fasting, and Advocacy

We are coming together as leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Episcopal Church to oppose deep cuts to programs that are vital to hungry people struggling with poverty. We make this call in anticipation of the May 21 Global Day of Prayer to End Famine. We highlight the importance of foreign assistance and humanitarian relief as members of the World Council of Churches.

We also make a call to pray, fast, and advocate not just on May 21, but throughout the 115th Congress. At the invitation of Bread for the World, we join with ecumenical partners and pledge to lead our congregations and ministries in fasting, prayer and advocacy, recognizing the need to engage our hearts, bodies, and communities together to combat poverty. As the call to prayer articulates,

 

“We fast to fortify our advocacy in solidarity with families who are struggling with hunger. We fast to be in solidarity with neighbors who suffer famine, who have been displaced, and who are vulnerable to conflict and climate change. We fast with immigrants who are trying to make a better future for their families and now face the risk of deportation. We fast in solidarity with families on SNAP, who often run out of food by the last week of the month.”

 

Domestically, Americans throughout the country are struggling with poverty, and many government-funded programs allow them to care for and feed their families. As we look overseas, we must acknowledge that foreign assistance and humanitarian relief can help to address regions confronting famine and food insecurity, including South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Lake Chad Basin. We will challenge proposals to eliminate or defund proven anti-poverty programs, at home and abroad.

The story of Esther provides encouragement for our fasting, prayer and advocacy. Esther, a Jew, was the wife of the Persian king. When plans were made to slaughter all the Jews in the empire, Esther’s cousin Mordechai pleaded with her to go to the king and use her voice to advocate for them, even though this might place her life in danger. He urged her not to remain silent, as she may have been sent “for such a time as this.” Esther asked people to fast and pray with her for three days to fortify her advocacy before the king, resulting in saving the lives of her people.

God’s intention is the flourishing of all people and we are called to participate in God’s loving purpose by standing with our neighbor who struggle with poverty and hunger. Following the Circle of Protection ecumenical fast in 2011 to fortify the faith community in opposing cuts to vital anti-poverty programs, we may have also been prepared “for such a time as this”. We commit ourselves to and invite our members to one day of fasting every month to undergird our efforts to convince our members of Congress to protect poverty-focused programs.

 

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate, the Episcopal Church

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

 

When does the fast begin? An opening three-day fast begins on Sunday, May 21. We will continue by fasting on the 21st day of each month through the close of the 115th Congress at the end of 2018. We fast on the 21st of the month because that is the day when 90% of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits run out for families.

How do we fast? We are calling for prayer, fasting, and advocacy. Fasting is an effort to clear our bodies, our hearts, and our minds from the distractions around us so that we may be more present to God. Fasting from food is one option that many will choose. But we invite people to take on other disciplines of self-denial, such as fasting from technology, or particular habits, which will help them rely more fully on God.

These days of fasting should also be days of advocacy to oppose cuts to public programs that help hungry people living in poverty. Individuals or congregations who participate in the fast will receive updates, prayer and advocacy action opportunities by signing up for either the Episcopal Public Policy Network or ELCA Advocacy.

Prayer accompanies and undergirds the disciplines of fasting and advocacy. It roots our actions in our total reliance on God’s loving grace and mercy. Turning to God in prayer shapes our advocacy and informs our fasting, grounding our actions in God’s call to love and serve our neighbor.

 

 

Presiding Bishop Curry’s video message

The transcript of Presiding Bishop Curry’s video message follows:

 

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

 

“Beginning on May 21 to fast, to pray, and to love by advocating for our children.”

 

There is a wonderful book that was published some years ago titled Eat, Pray, Love. I want to invite you to fast, pray, and love by advocating for those who have no one to advocate for them.

On May 21, I am going to join with Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and many of our ecumenical friends, in fasting for the day, and beginning a fast on the 21st of every month, continuing until the end of the year 2018, when the 115th Congressional session comes to an end. 

Here is the reason for that fast: That time of the month, around the 21st of every month, is a very difficult time for people who are on public assistance and have received their assistance earlier in the month. So we will fast and pray, to pray that our government and our leaders will find a way to do what is just and kind and compassionate in the best of the American spirit.

But we will not only fast and pray. We are asking you to join with us in advocating in a variety of ways for the poor, for those who need public assistance for children who are the primary beneficiaries of most of the forms of assistance that our government provides. We are asking you to join with other Christians and other people of goodwill to help our government reflect the best of the American spirit by feeding the hungry, caring for our children, and making sure that everyone has the opportunities for life and liberty not only in our country, but in our world. 

There is a story in the Bible, in the Book of Esther in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is the story of the people of God who found themselves in some tough times, and there was a woman named Esther who rose up and accepted the challenge at some risk to herself. A challenge to save her people when they were in jeopardy. At a moment of decision when she was trying to decide whether or not she should enter into the work to save her people, someone named Mordecai sent her a word, and said, “Perhaps Esther, you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” 

Maybe we are Esther. Perhaps we in the Episcopal Church, perhaps we in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, perhaps we who are Christians and people of faith and goodwill have come to the kingdom for such a time as this, to help our country make sure that no child goes to bed hungry. 

Eat, Pray, Love is a wonderful book but I want to invite you beginning on May 21 to fast, to pray, and to love by advocating for our children.

God love you, God bless you, and you keep the faith.

 

Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry

The Episcopal Church

 

 

Resources

Information about “For Such A Time As This” here

The Episcopal Public Policy Network here

ELCA Advocacy Network here

Bread for the World here

WCC Global Day of Prayer to End Famine resources here

#ForSuchATime

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have issued a joint statement calling for prayer, fasting and advocacy. The statement, For Such a Time as This

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, and the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), have issued the following joint statement on 2016 World AIDS Day.

 

 

World AIDS Day Statement

December 1:

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we are reminded of the promise of life that was given to us, unconditionally. Scriptures teach us that God’s gift of life extends to all of us, no matter our circumstances. In the words of Apostle Paul, “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all…” (Galatians 6:9-10).

For many years, Lutherans, Episcopalians and other communities of faith have been engaged in efforts to provide care, treatment, prevention services, and have supported initiatives that fight stigma and discrimination towards those living with HIV.  We mourn the 35 million lives lost to AIDS and, with 36.7 million people still living with HIV worldwide, our churches, our governments, and all other partners need to do more. We encourage Lutherans and Episcopalians near and far to stand in solidarity with all persons living with HIV, and to continue the difficult work of building an AIDS-free generation. We recommit ourselves to a future free of this pandemic.

A challenge of this magnitude requires all our efforts. Inequitable access to the life-saving medications, healthy diet and other vital determinants for breaking the hold of this epidemic, continue to disproportionately impact persons of color. A significant piece of this work is to ensure that antiretroviral medications are available to everyone who needs it. Currently, less than half of people affected by HIV have access to these lifesaving medications.  Studies have shown that when a person who is HIV+ takes antiretroviral medications continuously and correctly, their viral load can be suppressed to the point where they are no longer infectious. In other words, treatment is prevention. And so, we must expand our efforts in this area.

We are called as people of faith actively to eliminate stigma and discrimination within our own faith communities and especially that which affects marginalized vulnerable and key populations (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, sex workers, people who inject drugs, prisoners, migrants, women and girls).  We must be steadfast in our defense of the dignity and human rights of all people living with HIV.

As part of the sustainable development goals, which the United Nations adopted in September of 2015, the international community has committed to end the AIDS epidemic by the year 2030. Further commitments were made in June of this year when 192 countries meeting at the United Nations declared they will accelerate and scale up responses to HIV and AIDS to meet the goal of ending the epidemic by 2030.  A critical pathway to this goal is the 90-90-90 strategy, which aims to ensure that by year 2020, 90% of those living with HIV will receive a diagnosis, 90% of persons living with HIV will receive antiretroviral medication, and 90% of those receiving antiretroviral will have their viral load suppressed.

Lack of funding for HIV and AIDS programs remains a challenge. The goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 will not be achieved if donor countries fail to address this funding gap. We call upon President-elect Donald Trump to make a public commitment to the global fight against HIV. We urge the new Administration and Congress to increase funding for PEPFAR; the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and domestic programs that provide preventive and treatment services in the United States. 

 

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church

 

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton

Presiding Bishop

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

 

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, and the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), have issued the following joint statement on 2016 World

The Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee has issued a report following the group’s three-day meeting in May.

 

  “Hazy Hopes Taking Clear Incarnations”

Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee

May 9-11, Marriottsville, Maryland

 

The Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee met in Marriottsville, Maryland, May 9-11.  This Committee is charged with encouraging and assisting efforts in The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) as they live into their relationship of full communion provided for in “Called to Common Mission” (CCM). This meeting included visits to three joint Lutheran Episcopal ministries in addition to discussions of ongoing implementation of CCM.

“The hazy hopes for CCM that we had at the beginning have taken clear incarnations,” noted committee member the Rev. Lowell Almen. “We saw this today.”  This evaluation was expressed after the Committee visited three very different local ministries established during the last three years with the support of the Delaware-Maryland Synod of the ELCA and the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland:

  • The Churches of the Nativity and the Holy Comforter, “An Episcopal Lutheran Community in Baltimore”; the Rev. Stewart Lucas, Episcopal rector, and the Rev. David Eisenhuth, Lutheran pastor
  • The Church on the Square, Canton, Maryland, “a post-denominational community church”; the Rev. James Hamilton, Pastoral Missioner, and John Deason, Development Missioner
  • First English Lutheran Church (sponsor), the “Slate Project,” Baltimore, MD; co-founders the Rev. Jason Chesnut, the Rev. Jennifer DiFrancesco, and the Rev. Sara Shisler Goff

The Committee discussed recent encouragements from a number of sources for the churches of the three (full) communion agreements to find ways to move into closer relation.  This discussion was prompted in part by a letter from Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission (JALC), the Committee’s partner in Canada.  The Committee encouraged the Chair to respond warmly to the invitation of JALC to work together on this project and to communicate to them this resolution:

 

              The Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee:

Receives with gladness the October 5, 2015, letter from the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission;

And requests that ecumenical staff of our churches continue work toward mutual acknowledgement of (full) communion relationships among the churches of the Porvoo Agreement, Called to Common Mission, and the Waterloo Declaration.

 

A report will be given at the next Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee meeting.

In addition, the Committee discussed a range of topics around its mandate.  As Bishop Kreiss reminded the members, “We are given the care and nurture of an agreement that is of critical importance for the work of the gospel going forward in our churches. This is the path to which the Holy Spirit has called us. Our job is to help both of our traditions think creatively about what is possible and what is faithful, as we work to insure that the level of trust and intimacy between our church bodies continues to deepen. Fifteen years into CCM, we can see that this is no longer an experiment but the future of both of our churches.”

The Committee discussed ways to celebrate the 15th anniversary of CCM, challenges and opportunities for joint ministries and how to support them, creating standard guidelines and FAQs for the use of churches considering joint ministries, and making the resources more accessible.

The Committee will meet next in Chicago, February 8-10, 2017. Dates will be explored with JALC for a joint meeting, with times proposed during the week of November 27 - December 1, 2017.

 

Members of the Committee

ELCA: Bishop Donald Kreiss (Lutheran co-chair), the Rev. Lowell Almen, Dr. Mitzi Budde, Bishop Claire Burkat, the Rev. Natalie Hall

The Episcopal Church: The Rev. Kay Beach, the Rev. Jon Perez 

Staff: Dr. Kathryn Johnson (ELCA); the Rev. Canon Dr. Charles Robertson and the Rev. Margaret Rose (The Episcopal Church)

 

 

 

The Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee has issued a report following the group’s three-day meeting in May.     “Hazy Hopes Taking Clear Incarnations” Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee May 9-11, Marriottsville, Maryland   The Lutheran

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have issued a joint statement for World AIDS Day 2014.

The text of the statement follows:

World AIDS Day 2014

Every year on December 1, Episcopalians and Lutherans join with people around the world to commemorate World AIDS Day. This day serves as a time to remember those whose lives were forever changed because of HIV and AIDS. It also offers an opportunity to recommit ourselves to building God’s Kingdom by working to bring the AIDS pandemic to an end. This year, World AIDS Day falls on the second day of Advent, a time of hope and anticipation of the new life Jesus’ birth brings. As does Advent, World AIDS Day invites us to live with the joy that is to come by continuing to lift up the vision of a new life free of HIV and AIDS.

Three decades ago when scientists first identified HIV as the cause of AIDS, contracting the virus was a death sentence. Treatment for the disease was nonexistent. Today, advancements in treatment make it possible for people with HIV to live long, fulfilling lives. Better prevention services are helping to slow down new infections. We acknowledge and celebrate this progress, but remain steadfast in the face of the great challenges that remain.  The goal remains "Getting to zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths.”

In 2013, 2.1 million people became infected with HIV and 1.5 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses worldwide. Of the 35 million people currently living with HIV, only 13.6 million have access to antiretroviral medications. Furthermore, the stigma and discrimination toward those affected by HIV and AIDS continue to be a major problem in this struggle.  Churches and other faith communities throughout the world are well suited to challenge social stigma associated with HIV and AIDS, and we pray for unity of purpose in this work among faith leaders everywhere.

Poverty and marginalization of vulnerable and key populations (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, sex workers, people who inject drugs, prisoners, migrants, women and girls) are major contributors to the spread of HIV. Infection rates within these populations are disproportionately high, and yet few have access to life-saving treatment. Both The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are committed to the fight against HIV and AIDS, and committed to working to end poverty both in our own communities and around the world.  In the coming year we will challenge our churches to find greater synergy between these two related Gospel imperatives.  We will also continue to encourage voluntary testing and counseling.

Ensuring that all people living with HIV have access to prevention, care and treatment services must continue to be the focus of our HIV and AIDS ministries both here at home and abroad. We encourage Lutherans and Episcopalians everywhere to support efforts by our governments, churches and other partners to provide resources towards treatment, care and prevention services. We also challenge the Administration and Congress to increase funding for PEPFAR; the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and domestic programs that provide preventive care and treatment in the United States.  We also urge governments to support the inclusion of the proposed target of ending the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria by 2030 in the United Nations’ post-2015 development agenda.  

“The Lord has anointed me…to provide for those who mourn,” writes the prophet Isaiah in a passage Episcopalians and Lutherans will hear this Advent, “to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.”   This Advent, may we live these words with fervor and joy as we recommit to seeking a world without AIDS.

 

 

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church

 

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton                                              

Presiding Bishop                                                      

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America  

 

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have issued a joint statement for World AIDS Day 2014. The text of the statement follows: World