New Recomendations for the Global Evangelical Lutheran Mission Family

CHICAGO- The three day board of division for Global mission conference in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America produced a stronger resolution to enhance ministries nationwide, and to enhance partnership with sister churches internationally, March 19-21.

Following the recommendation, the ELCA Church Council will also consider the resolutions on missions and ministries at their upcoming meeting on April 16-19. The ELCA Church Council is the denomination’s board of directors and the legislative authority of the church between churchwide assemblies.

Much of the resolutions surrounded the conflicts in the middle east. The first was a call to break down the wall between Israel and Palestine.

The Rev. Munib A Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan (ELCJ) and Palestine, wrote a letter to the Rev. Marck S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the ELCA, saying that the wall designed to separate the two nations is “not needed and its construction and growth are steadily destroying our hope for a two-state solution in this land."

The board used Younan's letter to craft its resolution.

The Rev. Said R. Ailabouni, director for Europe and the Middle East, DGM, told the board that the separation wall "prevents patients from traveling to Augusta Victoria Hospital. It is an evil, and the church cannot remain silent. The 'Road Map' for peace hasn't gotten us anywhere." Augusta Victoria is a hospital of the Lutheran World Federation -- a global communion of Christian churches based in Geneva, Switzerland, of which the ELCA is a member.

Christoph Schneider-Yattara, associate director for companionship education and advocacy for Asia, Europe and the Middle East, DGM, spoke of his experience when a wall split East and West Germany.

"We never prayed for the [Berlin] wall to be torn down. It never entered our minds. We did pray for peace for many, many years. In November 1989 it was a miracle when the wall came down. It made me realize how God answers prayers. We asked God for a more democratic society, but what we got was freedom,?said Yattara.

In a similar fashion, the board cited the construction of a wall along the U.S and Mexico boarder, and stated that "existing and new" U.S. immigration policies and procedures "create barriers between people" and foster "discrimination against the poor" and "against people of color."

Kamy Moghbeli, DGM board member, Baldwin, N.Y., said, "The wall along the United States-Mexican border is just as awful as the one in Palestine."

In a separate resolution, the DGM board asked the council to express its commitment to "walk with the Lutheran Church in Liberia" and "express its deep appreciation" to Liberians, who are taking leadership in rebuilding their country after 14 years of civil war. A peace accord reached on Aug. 18, 2003, created an opportunity for Liberians to rebuild communities and relationships. Lutheran mission personnel began returning to Liberia for service in October.

Along the same lines, the board asked the council to call on its members to learn more about Liberia and to pray for its people.

At the April meeting, the council will receive a resolution about “Stand With Africa: A Campaign of Hope" from the DGM board.

The estimated three–year SWA campaign began in 2000 to focus on issues significant to Africa, including HIV/AIDS, food security, and peace and reconciliation. The resolution affirmed the continuation of Stand With Africa as a "second mile" giving opportunity and reaffirmed the ELCA's commitment to accompany companion churches and partner agencies in Africa.

Additionally, the Board received presentations from two international guests: Maria Soledad Puebla, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile, and the Rev. Julius Filo, general bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Augsburg Confession in Slovakia.

Pauline J. Chang