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Reader call

For a story in an upcoming issue of this magazine, we want to know: In light of the 2016 presidential election, does faith play a part in civil discourse? How can civility be perceived as a strength, and compromise not as a failure? As citizens, what role can ELCA members and congregations play in this nation’s discourse surrounding the 2016 election? What does the church’s tradition of moral discernment bring to the political dialogue? Send your name, contact information (email and phone), home congregation and not more than 200 words in response to these questions to melissa. by March 31.

‘Radical love letter’

More than 24,000 people, includ- ing 7,000 clergy members, signed a letter in support of American Mus- lim communities. The letter, which was organized by the Presbyterian Church-affiliated Auburn Seminary, New York City, was hand-delivered to leaders at the Muslim Community Network in New York City on Christ- mas Eve, which also happened to be the prophet Muhammad’s birthday. The letter promises to build a “circle of protection” to defend American Muslims from hate and violence. It will also be distributed to Muslim communities in Los Angeles, Denver, Atlanta, Detroit, Orlando and San Francisco.

Strengthen relations

A document released Dec. 10 by the Vatican said Roman Catholics should witness to their faith but not undertake organized efforts to con- vert Jews, a significant step forward in the once tense relations between the two faiths. “The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable” also called for greater efforts among Roman Catholics to fight anti-Semitism. The Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews released the document to mark the 50th anni- versary of a statement on Catholic-


ELCA presiding bishop visits Syrian refugees


ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton listens as a Syrian refugee speaks while gathered at the Lutheran World Federation Peace Oasis in the Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan. Eaton was joined by Archbishop Antje Jackelén of the Church of Sweden and Gloria Rojas Vargas, former president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile. Many families at the camp are facing their fifth winter being displaced from their homes.

Jewish relations in which the church formally rejected the notion that Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death.

Be careful that there’s not some- one a bit quick and too cunning that tells you that you must pay.

No! You don’t pay for salvation. You don’t buy salvation. The door is Jesus, and Jesus is free!”

Pope Francis to the crowds in ”

St. Peter’s Square, warning about con artists demanding money to pass through St. Peter’s Basilica and other churches for the Vatican’s jubilee year.


ighteen young people from St. Stephen Martyr Lutheran Church, Canton, Ohio,

returned from the ELCA Youth Gathering touched by a 5-year-old boy they had met on their service project. They had been assigned to clean

up a 100-block area of mostly aban- doned inner city homes in Detroit, where they met Emerson, who Allie Harpster, director of lay ministry, said “chatted them up, entertained, charmed, and basically introduced a group of teens from the burbs to a different way of life.’” With no prompting from adults

Priest suspended

A priest in the Philippines was sus- pended for riding a hoverboard dur- ing Christmas Eve mass. The priest of the Diocese of San Pablo report- edly sang a Christmas song while riding the hoverboard up and down the aisles of the sanctuary as a way to greet the congregation. The dio- cese said the priest made worship about himself instead of Christ. The unnamed priest has apologized for his behavior and said the situation was a “wake-up call.”

10  ELCA Youth Gathering miracle

and with their own money, the teens sent Emerson a care package of school supplies and snacks. They didn’t know his last name or exact address, but the post office perse- vered and found the right home. Emerson even sent back a thank you note.

Of all the lessons learned at

the gathering, the Canton group “learned to disregard the seemingly impossible task of finding a small child in a large city, and the impact of what can happen when a 5-year- old talks to strangers, releasing in them a spirit of thoughtfulness and generosity,” Harpster said.

10 

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