Hear My Voice: A Prison Prayer Book

Imagine yourself suddenly, unexpectedly arrested and put in jail. You find yourself locked in a cell, perhaps with multiple strangers or perhaps all alone, staring at cracks in the concrete block, wondering what has just happened and what’s going to happen next.

The church wants to stand beside you and to pray with you and for you in that dark night, whatever it may be. Hear My Voice: A Prison Prayer Book (Augsburg Fortress, to be released July 2019) has been written for anyone who is incarcerated or imprisoned in any form.

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Second Chances: A Migrant Story

In 2013, Juan began the journey to the United States, spurred by extreme poverty and lack of opportunities in El Salvador. He attempted to get on “La Bestia” (The Beast) – a network oftrains used by migrants to travel towards the U.S. border. During his attempt to climb aboard, his legs were trapped by the wheels of the train, causing him to lose both his legs. He almost died.

A block from Juan’s home is Our Redeemer, a congregation of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church (ILS). The pastor, Francisco Aguilar, heard about Juan’s story. Read the full story »

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2019 Synod Assembly recap

Under the theme “Sing a New Song,” 385 attendees from Arizona, Nevada, and Utah gathered at Love of Christ Lutheran Church in Mesa, Arizona, for the Grand Canyon Synod Assembly.

After a year’s work and discernment, the Synod council and Bishop Hutterer presented a new strategic plan which can be summarized as “Communicate Jesus, Connect People, and Create Possibilities.” This plan will guide and focus us in the coming years.

Other highlights included:

  • $4,636 collected in worship offerings, to be split equally between the ELCA Campaign and the Bishop’s Leadership Fund

  • Churches and individuals donated a truckload of in-kind donations for families seeking asylum

  • Elected new Synod Council members

  • Adopted the 2020/2021 Mission Spending Plan

  • Video reports from over a dozen mission and ministry partners

  • Wasabi-flavored communion wafers to bring the fiery spirit of Pentecost into our midst

  • Installation of the Synod staff and council

  • Celebration of pastoral milestones and retirements

  • Remembrance of pastors who passed away this year

  • Breakout and discussion sessions to discuss the new strategic plan and to hear from a variety of presenters

  • Diakonia Graduation & Dinner

  • Bishop Deborah’s report and sermon

Thanks to the people of Love of Christ Lutheran—Dick Beckman, Pastor Steve Talmage, and the brigade of volunteers—who warmly welcomed and graciously fed their Synod brothers and sisters. 

Thanks to the musical team from Christ the Servant Lutheran Church in Henderson, Nevada for providing the music and to Pastor Dave Drach-Meinel for writing 26 new songs(!) to drive home our theme.

Thanks to the assembly planning team for their work in creating a new way of assembling: Bishop Deborah Hutterer, Pastor David Brandfass, Pastor Dave Drach-Meinel, Pastor Steve Springer, Norine Floyd, Brian Flatgard, Dick Beckman, and Paul Gryniewicz.

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I'm a Lutheran: Nickolas Butler, Novelist and short-story writer

I believe in being good to other people, in making art, in trying to be patient, in seeing beauty in the world, in leaving the planet better than I found it.

Having my first novel, “Shotgun Lovesongs” (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2014), become an international best-seller and receive positive reviews from the New York Times, among others was bewildering. It was a dream come true in the best and most surreal ways. It was basically like I woke up from one life and began living in another, and that second life was my dream. Imagine waking up into a dream.

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Prayers for Shepherd of the Valley, Phoenix, AZ

In our prayers, we uplift Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Phoenix, AZ. We pray for Pastor David M. Marz, Equipping Pastor John Schaumburg, Children and Youth Director Casey Goslin, Minister of Place Tom Berggren, Minister of Administration Carol Carpenter, Contemporary Worship Leader, Daniel Camacho, Bookkeeper Lise Ryden, and Lisa Henderson with the Shepherd’s Foundation.

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World Refugee Day: An Invitation to Follow

Nearly 69 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes by violence, poverty, war, discrimination and marginalization, natural disasters and the effects of climate change. This year, for World Refugee Day, Lutheran Disaster Response will add our church’s voice to the conversation to build awareness around global migration.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter next week as we explore what is happening both domestically and internationally around global migration and how our church, through Lutheran Disaster Response, other ELCA ministries, and partners, are walking with our neighbors on the move.

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Brian FlatgardComment
Together in Welcome: A letter encouraging accompanying refugees and migrants

A letter from Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA and Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President & CEO of LIRS. Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The gospels recount the story of Jesus as a migrant, in need of welcome and reception. And Jesus identifies with every wanderer, every displaced person, every refugee, asylum seeker and migrant, when he tells the crowd, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35). For 80 years, Lutherans in the United States have joined together to respond to God’s call to love the neighbor who comes to us as stranger and sojourner. Since 1939, LIRS (Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service) has led the Lutheran movement to welcome vulnerable migrants and refugees in America. Meanwhile, as part of the AMMPARO strategy, 128 welcoming and sanctuary congregations in 35 synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have committed to offering accompaniment to migrants in their communities. 

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Celebrating Juneteenth: Remembering the Past While Looking Forward

On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation freed 3.1 million of the nation’s 4 million enslaved people. On June 19, 1865 enslaved Africans in the state of Texas and parts of Louisiana received word of their emancipation 2.5 years later. The celebratory date is known as Juneteenth (June plus nineteenth).  The date is honored by remembering the legacy of enslaved African ancestors, worship services, family gatherings and speaking out against racial injustices.

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Bishop Hutterer: A New Song

From the front of the room at the 32nd Grand Canyon Synod Assembly this past weekend, I had an overwhelming sense of Holy Spirit’s presence. Friends greeting one another by name. New faces sparking conversation. Volunteers and staff serving with pride. While we spoke of singing a new song, I was also listening for new songs.

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Three Sides Podcast: Walking Together

In the ELCA there is no mission “to,” only mission “with” and “among” as its missionaries walk together with those they serve. In this episode of the Three Sides podcast, we hear from ELCA missionaries and ELCA Global Mission staff who talk about what it means to “bear one another’s burdens” by walking together and sharing God’s love in communities throughout the world.

Watch We are one in the Spirit to learn more about Rev. Kirsten Fryer’s journey.

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July Stewardship Toolkit available

The Rev. Robert C. Blezard continues to provide a “Stewardship Toolkit” for congregations. Fitting for the month with Independence Day, July’s theme is “Stewardship of our civic freedoms.”

It consists of an original newsletter article and RCL-based “stewardship snippets” that they can cut and paste into their publications. It also has resources to explore the theme set out in the newsletter article.

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Holy Land Tour, March 2020

You are invited to learn about the Holy Land Tour on March-April 2, 2020, with an optional extension to Jordan, April 2-5 through Faith Journeys. Senior Pastor Glenn Zorb of Mountain View Lutheran Church, Ahwatukee, will be our Tour Host!

For more details view this flyer and itinerary, or learn more info and access forms via myfaithjourneys.com and use the MVLC group number: 20023. Need more help? Please contact Rhonda Smith at rsmith@mvlutheran.org or call 480-893-2579, ext, 121.

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Bargain book sale at assembly

Herb Chilstrom, ELCA's first presiding bishop, has authored eight books since retirement in 1995. After income of more than $180,000, all donated to ELCA sseminaries and colleges, he's "going out of business." Some of his books are on one-half price sale at the Assembly. Come and take a look. Find some bargains!

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