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cil, including 11 synod positions and 11 to 12 additional members nomi- nated by the Nominating Committee, to ease the transition to a triennial assembly. Electing these members would

grow the council to 49 to 50 mem- bers until August 2015. At that time 11 members would finish their terms, bringing the council back to its cur- rent size of 38 to 39 members.

Goodbye binders 2013 also is the year voting mem- bers bid goodbye to the 7-pound, 3-ring binders toted at past assem- blies. Planning staff are calling this year “Paperless in Pittsburgh,” as 2013 will be the first assembly with a mobile app and “e-binder” (the “e” is for electronic or digital) for all voting members. Each voting member will be able to access all assembly content via their own tablet or an iPad provided by the ELCA for the duration of the assembly. This was successfully tested by a sample group at the 2011 assembly. (Learn more at www.elca. org/assembly.) And as always, furniture (includ- ing rehabbed bicycles) purchased for the Churchwide Assembly and the nurses’ station will be donated after the event—the bicycles to a Lutheran camp. 

Elizabeth Hunter Hunter is a section editor of The Lutheran.

LWF targets youth jobs Alongside issues such as gender jus- tice, climate change and a solution to the unrest in the Middle East, the Lutheran World Federation Council examined the rising issue of youth unemployment at its June 2013 meet- ing in Geneva. The council urged countries to promote economic poli- cies and fiscal incentives that combat

youth unemployment. Some 75 mil- lion young adults are without gainful employment worldwide, said LWF General Secretary Martin Junge. See for more information about the event.

Pet of the Year Howard and Carla Olson, members of Community of Joy Lutheran Church, Hot Springs, Ark., received an award on behalf of their dog, Buddy, who was named 2012 Pet of the Year by the Arkansas Veterinary Medical Asso- ciation. Buddy, a tricolored rough col- lie, has since died. When a representa- tive from Arkansas Hospice spoke at Community of Joy, telling members she wanted to start a therapy dog unit, the Olsons decided to put Buddy through the process. Despite impaired vision, he passed all certifications. The vet who nominated Buddy said, “He could go into a place and he knew why he was there—to cheer people up.” A memorial dedicated to Buddy’s service is on the fifth floor of Mercy Hospital in Hot Springs.

Presbyterians decrease

In 2012 the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) decreased to 1.8 million members, a 102,791 drop from the previous year, reported the denomi- nation’s Office of the General Assembly. Highlights from the report include: 13 new congregations orga- nized; 86 congregations dissolved and $1.9 billion in giving to all PCUSA congregations. Citing a 2012 study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assem- bly, said the membership decline was caused in part by the growth of the religiously unaffiliated in the U.S.

Canada changing Immigration into Canada is affect- ing the country’s religious makeup, according to a May survey by Sta-

tistics Canada. While Christianity remains the largest faith group in the country, 33 percent of immi- grants from 2001 to 2011 identified as Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Sikh, as compared to less than 3 percent of immigrants who identified with those faiths before 1971. A 2010 sur- vey, also by Statistics Canada, found that most Canadians welcome this religious diversity, with 75 percent agreeing that “it is better for Canada to have a variety of people with dif- ferent religions.”

Help for Syria In June, ELCA Lutheran Disaster Response sent $542,000 to the Syriac Orthodox Church for its humani- tarian response within Syria. The confict in Syria has left more than 100,000 dead, 1.6 million fleeing to neighboring countries, and more than 4 million internally displaced since 2011. ELCA funds will provide six months of rent for 500 families; medical supplies and care, including surgeries; and services for children, including milk and diapers. Since 2011, the ELCA has given more than $1 million to help people in Syria and in the refugee camps. To give, send checks to Lutheran Disaster Response (write “Syria conflict” in memo line), 39330 Treasury Center, Chicago, IL 60694-9300; 800-638- 3522;

Waste not, help more Pope Francis denounced consumer- ism and what he called the “culture of waste” of modern economies, especially when it comes to food. “Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry,” he said in June on the same day the U.N. launched an anti- food waste campaign to mark World Environment Day. Approximately 1.3 billion tons of food—one-third of

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