Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election in the ELCA

Shrimp here.

It's Election Day in the United States, which can mean only one thing for ELCA members: a press release announcing ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson's interaction with someone in the Office of the President of the United States. And, lo and behold, it was in the White House and with the President himself, so things seem to be better for the ELCA Presiding Bishop than they were, say, a few years ago when the American President was apparently not seeking Bishop Hanson's counsel.

But first, we digress to one way the ELCA is living out Jesus' observations in Matthew 25:31-46 (go ahead, we'll wait while you read it; the link takes you to the ELCA's preferred NRSV) as reported a couple of weeks ago at Christianity Today. You'll want to read the entire article — don't worry, it's short — but here's a couple of snippets:
As a church plan, Augsburg Fortress's is not insured by the federal agency that insures private pension plans....

The Augsburg Fortress case may intensify that consideration. Knowing the plan was underfunded, the publisher stopped enrolling new employees in 2005. But after the stock market collapse and a tough publishing climate, the plan was nearly empty and the publisher distributed the remaining funds. In response, beneficiaries sued....

Attorney Ron Kilgard ... says ..., "A church plan doesn't mean you can walk away from your obligations."

The ELCA, which seeks to dismiss the suit, says it "had no role in the creation, management, funding, or termination of the Augsburg Fortress pension plan."
Read it all here and, if you want to learn more, we've addressed this before here at Shellfish.

Meanwhile, back in the White House,

ELCA Presiding Bishop, Other Christian Leaders Meet with President Obama


CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) joined about 20 others U.S. Christian leaders in a meeting with President Obama Nov. 1 at the White House. The leaders met with the president "speaking first out of our faith and Scriptures, and secondly, to issues before this nation and world," Hanson said in an interview.

Meeting on the eve of the mid-term elections, they discussed a number of current topics with Obama such as religious freedom, Middle East concerns, poverty and hunger, travel restrictions to and from Cuba, public education, health care and civility in political life, said Hanson.

Obama had been invited to speak at next week's annual assembly of the National Council of Churches USA in New Orleans. The president was unable to accept the invitation, but instead invited the Christian leaders to the White House to celebrate 100 years of United States Christian cooperation as a communion of churches.

The meeting was organized through the National Council of Churches USA. The Christian leaders represented 45 million people in about 100,000 congregations in the United States, Hanson said.

Hanson said the Christian leaders "expressed profound gratitude for the way he [Obama] is engaging the faith community in his leadership."

The Christian leaders thanked President Obama for passage of historic health reform legislation, Hanson said. Many of the church leaders spoke about health care from the contexts of their own traditions, he said. They also thanked the president for his statement on the plan to construct a community center and mosque in lower Manhattan.

"We told the president of our commitment to religious freedom in the world," Hanson said.

On the Middle East, the religious leaders said they appreciated the administration's recent efforts to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and at the same time emphasized the need to preserve Jerusalem as a shared city for all and protect the place of Christians in the region, the ELCA presiding bishop said.

Hanson said he spoke about poverty and hunger issues in the meeting. "I said that our commitment is to together work with the administration to eradicate poverty," he said. Hanson said he raised the need for Congress to reauthorize child nutrition programs and extend unemployment benefits.

"I spoke about the need to create jobs that will lift people out of poverty," Hanson said, including jobs that are environmentally friendly.

Hanson also raised a familiar theme he has used with ELCA audiences in his comments to the president: that white, middle-class and wealthy Christians need to confront their own power and privilege in society.

The discussion included concerns from many of the Christian leaders about travel restrictions to Cuba and religious freedom there since many have church-to-church relationships with Cuban churches. The religious leaders' expressed their commitment to public education and shared their disappointment concerning the lack of respect and civility in public life.

The delegation presented Obama with a Saint John’s Bible, a framed sampler of statements commemorating 100 years of ecumenism, and a picture plaque commemorating the "Feed the Future" initiative of Church World Service.

Church World Service, New York, is an ecumenical disaster relief and development agency.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or news@elca.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/elcanews
Twitter: http://twitter.com/elcanews
Shrimp particularly liked the segue from the need to confront white, middle-class and wealthy Christians to the presentation of a St. John's Bible, of which Wikipedia® says,
The Saint John's Bible is the first completely handwritten and illuminated Bible to have been commissioned by a Benedictine Abbey since the invention of the printing press.

...The Saint John’s Bible was officially commissioned in 1998 and funding opportunities were launched. The public was introduced to the project in 1999 and it is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

The Saint John’s Bible is divided into seven volumes and is two feet tall by three feet wide when open. The Bible is made of vellum, with 160 illuminations, and has cost $4 million to produce....
Shrimp is reminded of signs that once dotted the Interstate highway system during construction: "Your mission support dollars at work."

Shrimp out!

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...