Posts in Letter
Bishop Hutterer reflects on LWF retreat for newly elected leaders

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton invited me and two other U.S. bishops (Bishop Susan Briner and Bishop Patricia Davenport) to participate in an annual retreat held early September for newly elected leaders by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).

In addition to the three ELCA bishops, there were bishops and pastor presidents from Zambia, Ghana, South Korea, Thailand, northern India, Bolivia, the River Table (Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay) and Peru.

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Bishop Eaton issues pastoral message on racism and white supremacy

Centered in Christ, the 2019 Churchwide Assembly was significant in many ways: worship, thoughtful deliberation and prayer led to the adoption of memorials and resolutions that will shape this church for years to come. Among these decisions, this church was called to address the deadly power of racism and white supremacy. Martin Luther's clear exposition of the gospel — that God justifies, that we are redeemed by the death and resurrection of Jesus, and that grace is a gift — not only makes it possible to engage in this work but gives us a framework in which to do it.

The doctrine of justification is a great leveler. It acknowledges that no one group of people can claim supremacy over others. We are all deeply in need of grace, and God gives this gift to all. Standing equally under the judgement and promise of the gospel, we, as a church, can recognize the overt and covert ways that a culture of white supremacy denies full humanity to all people, and we can work to dismantle it. 

  • We offered a public apology titled "Declaration of the ELCA to People of African Descent."

  • We adopted a resolution condemning white supremacy.

  • We adopted a resolution to establish June 17 as "Emanuel 9 Day of Repentance," commemorating the martyrdom of Clementa C. Pinckney, Cynthia Marie Graham-Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel L. Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson by a violent white supremacist, Dylann Roof, who grew up in the ELCA.

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Bishop Hutterer: The Main Thing

We are blessed to be church together in a time of renewal. Looking back through centuries of our faith’s history, we can imagine the anxiety and doubt of people living in times of extreme change. We can also see what must have been nearly invisible to that congregation of saints: the Holy Spirit at work.

Dr. Dwight Zscheile, of Luther Seminary, recently wrote about predictions from an ELCA Research & Evaluation project that the ELCA may be gone in 30 years. You can read Zscheile’s article at faithlead.luthersem.edu/will-the-elca-will-be-gone-in-30-years.

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ELCA as a sanctuary church: What does this mean?

In this statement, Presiding Bishop Eaton provides clarifications and helpful talking points:

Dear siblings in Christ, as many of you know, last week the ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted a resolution that, among other things, declared the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) a sanctuary denomination. Many of you are asking, “What does this mean?”

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Bishop Hutterer: Sanctuary, What Does It Mean?

Many of you know the ELCA Churchwide Assembly convened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin last week. In addition to daily worship, during the business meetings there were many decisions and conversations, including resolutions and memorials. Among the business items addressed included a resolution on the subject of Sanctuary. The Grand Canyon Synod supports/endorses the Background Provided to the Assembly by the Memorials Committee. Please click to read more on this background, and what the resolution on Sanctuary means and does not mean.

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Bishop Hutterer: For many Lutherans, immigration is a memory that is still alive…

For many Lutherans, immigration is a memory that is still alive in ourselves and our families. You may have grown up in a congregation that worshipped in different languages. Your home church might have had German inscribed in the stained glass, or you celebrated a holiday with special foods.

Our involvement with immigration is as old as the Bible.

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Bishop Hutterer: Just Visiting

While working at Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, I once met a refugee woman named Anastasia. When I asked her what she appreciated most about her new life in the United States, she told me it was the food in her cupboard, the water coming from her sink, and the fact that her children could go to school. She felt safe. 

It really reminds you of the things in life that can be so easily missed. 

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It Was a Good Day: A letter from a volunteer

Dear Friends, 

A Homeland Security bus pulled up and out walked 30 people, most from Guatemala and a few from Honduras. Volunteers met them outside and welcomed them. As you can imagine, they were quiet but some offered big smiles. Once all were assembled, an orientation was given. Shortly after orientation, phone calls were made to sponsors so travel arrangements could be made for the last leg of their journey.

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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). 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, the ELCA has committed to offering accompaniment to migrants in their communities. 

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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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ELCA presiding bishop issues letter on abortion

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has released a letter addressing states recently passing or considering legislation to restrict access to legal abortion. “Talking about abortion has never been easy in this country, and the same holds true in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The members of this church have divergent beliefs and opinions about whether or not abortion should be legal,” the letter read in part.

“I commend you to study and discuss the ELCA social statement ‘Abortion.’ Through this social teaching and policy statement, this church seeks to travel a moderating path by supporting abortion as a last resort.”

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Bishop Eaton's June column: Gathering, word, meal, sending. 

In her June column for Living Lutheran, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton reflects on why we worship: “[Liturgy is] a discipline Lutherans willingly undertake because it helps individuals and the entire community express our connection with other Christians throughout the world and across the ages.” 

Read her column in English at https://bit.ly/2EQEIAa  and in Spanish at https://bit.ly/2KlL6CW, or view in PDF format or as a Word document.

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Bishop Hutterer: Family Gathering

Once a year, in Minnesota, my family gathers together for an annual camping outing. While every family is unique and might have different traditions, family reunions are a way to make new memories together and remember what is most important in life.

Synod Assembly is the one time of year that our synod family gets together. Where we can dwell on what this work is really about.

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Bishop Eaton's May column: Questions in life

In her May column for Living Lutheran, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth takes time to reflect on one of “The Questions”—what is a life worth living? She reflects on the cruciform life, which delivers us from our constant striving to make our lives have meaning through our own efforts.

Read her column in English at https://bit.ly/2LhJQTp and in Spanish at https://bit.ly/2LmmdcJ, or download the column in PDF or as a Word doc.

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Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

I am flooded with joy thinking of the special traditions and celebrations that have just taken place across the Synod this past Holy Week. Thank you for proclaiming the new life and hope of life in Jesus into the hearts and spirits of so many. 

I am also reminded that the very first Easter was something much different. As they went to the tomb, the followers of Jesus might have felt that they were abandoned by God and that death had the last word.

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