From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Assembly Experiences Global Celebration

Date Fri, 15 Aug 2003 16:01:37 -0500


August 15, 2003

ELCA Assembly Experiences Global Celebration

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- Voting members attending the 2003
Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
(ELCA) enjoyed an afternoon of international singing, dancing,
praying and learning as part of a "Global Celebration" Aug. 14.
     The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of
the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 11-17 at the Midwest Airlines
Center.  There are about 2,100 people participating, including
1,031 ELCA voting members.  The theme for the biennial assembly
is "Making Christ Known: For the Healing of the World."
     The celebration -- a half-day version of a typical ELCA
Global Mission Event -- focused on the theme of the Churchwide
Assembly in relation to healing of creation, healing of self and
healing of relationships.  Throughout the 90-minute plenary,
storytellers related vignettes on the healing theme, choirs and
dancers performed, and the assembly engaged in prayer.	The Rev.
Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, introduced each healing
theme with a brief conversation with young children on the main
     International guests, some of whom were participants at the
recently concluded Lutheran World Federation assembly in
Winnipeg, Manitoba, were introduced by the Rev. Rafael Malpica
Padilla, executive director, ELCA Division for Global Mission.
Among the performers were Susuburibi and Spirits, drummers and
stilt walkers; and Bethel Junior Choir & Company and New Parish
Choir & Company, both youth choirs.
     "We begin our time together in worship .. recalling how
water is used in Baptism," Hanson said as he sprinkled the
children with water from a font.  "So now let the celebration for
the healing of the world begin."
     The healing of creation section featured brief stories about
healing on farms and healing in southeast Asia and European
countries where landmines have injured or killed people.
     "The whole of creation is God's gift to us," Hanson said to
the children.  "Sometimes the creation cries out when it is in
pain.  Sometimes, if we listen really well, the creation calls
out for healing.  Listening is part of healing."
     The healing of the body segment included a vignette on how a
surgeon prays before operations.  The healing of relationships
focused on ways in which people may be divided, such as racism,
sexism, poverty, classism and ageism.  Suad Younan, a Palestinian
Lutheran from Jerusalem, spoke of her relationship with an
Israeli woman who has the same worries about her children as
Younan, despite their different lives in Israel.
     "Isn't it wonderful that God didn't make us all the same?"
Hanson asked the children, pointing out that each person is
unique and each represents a different ethnic background.
Because of that, he said, some are treated differently than
     "Some are treated differently because of the color of their
skin," Hanson said.  "God says to his children 'I want you to
heal the tear, the break in relationships.'"
     Hanson concluded the plenary with words of hope for the
     "Nothing gives me as much hope as you who sit on this
stage," he said.  "I see in your eyes and your heart the future
or the world."
     Following the plenary, voting members were invited to
several global celebration workshops.  The workshops focused on
Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and the ELCA.
Subjects included HIV/AIDS in Africa; healing the church after
Communism; 10 years after signing peace accords in Latin America;
Palestinian Christianity; roles for missionaries; the Lutheran
World Federation; Lutheran World Relief; and the music of the
global church.
     Participants concluded the afternoon with a global
celebration meal and an evening "prayer around the cross" worship
-- -- --
Information about the 2003 ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found
at on the Web.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

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