Posts in Letter
Bishop Hutterer: Counting Blessings

As Thanksgiving approaches, we are reminded to notice God’s abundance and “count our blessings.” You may even practice this at a Thanksgiving table of family, friends and food.

It’s easy to think of Jesus at such a table. The Gospel gives us numerous examples of Jesus and the disciples giving thanks for the bread of that day, and then returning to the dusty road of service with nothing more than simple clothes and sandals for walking.

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The wild freedom to love each other as God first loved us

From Allie Papke-Larson comes this reflection. Papke-Larson is Program Coordinator for Lutheran Campus Ministries/Canterbury Episcopal Campus Ministries at Northern Arizona University and Youth Director at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Flagstaff.

From September 2015 to September 2017 I lived and worked in an intentional community located in the North Cascades of Washington State called Holden Village. My time in the village deeply shaped me and I would like to share with you a piece of what it felt like to begin to leave that place. 

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Bishop Hutterer: God is calling

At the Bishop’s Fall Gathering, someone asked me, “Where do you find joy?” And, while I find many places of joy, it got me thinking. When I opened myself to serve in this role as bishop, I wasn’t thinking of joy. My prayer was, and still is, that God would use me to serve. Even though I get to do so many wonderful things, there are days when I struggle. 

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Bishop Hutterer: Our Public Witness

In September the synod council, staff, and conference deans gathered in Tucson for a weekend of church business, worship, fellowship, and a border immersion experience. The experience comes out of our commitment to live into our strategic plan of communicating Jesus: “We will grow our public witness through advocacy, integrating our ELCA theology and engagement with current issues and contextual realities.”

The workshop included time to examine our perceptions around border issues, to cross the border and visit our Lutheran-Episcopal ministry, Cruzando Fronteras, and worship with the GCS’s oldest Spanish speaking congregation, Iglesia San Juan Bautista.

View reports, resources, and reflections of the participants.

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Bishop Eaton: We are to Be Bold

In her September/October column for Living Lutheran, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton reflects on the 2019 Churchwide Assembly, saying the actions taken were based on “our scriptural and confessional understanding of who God chooses us to be.” In Milwaukee, she says, “we stepped out in faith.” Read her column in English at https://bit.ly/2mjiMYj and in Spanish at https://bit.ly/2oDR5KK.

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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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