From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Assembly Greeted By Lutheran Immigration And Refugee Service

Date Sat, 16 Aug 2003 11:43:51 -0500


August 16, 2003

ELCA Assembly Greeted By Lutheran Immigration And Refugee Service

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- Ralston Deffenbaugh, president of
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), greeted the 2003
Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
(ELCA), stressing that support for refugees is crucial in a post-
September 11 world.
     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."
     Jill Schumann, executive director of Lutheran Services in
America (LSA), was unable to bring greetings to the assembly
because her flight from Baltimore was grounded by the power
outages experienced Aug. 14 in the northeastern states.
     Deffenbaugh thanked the assembly for passing a resolution
earlier in the plenary session that upheld the importance of
working with refugees. "The support of this church has been
stalwart, and we thank you for that," he said.
     Deffenbaugh pointed out that as Lutherans in the United
States, "We once were, and still are, an immigrant church." He
said that before September 11, 2001, the United States was a
leader in resettling refugees. Since then, most refugees have
been denied entrance to the country. "The aftermath of [September
11] has been devastating for LIRS and for those who work on
behalf of refugees," he said.
     Nevertheless, LIRS and its volunteers continue to provide
welcome to refugees, said Deffenbaugh. "Lutherans are helping to
shape welcoming communities every day."
     Deffenbaugh invited voting member and former refugee Kamy
Moghbeli from the ELCA Metropolitan New York Synod to offer his
testimony. Moghbeli, who is a volunteer ambassador for LIRS,
said, "I am proud to be a Lutheran-American -- first Lutheran and
then American." Moghbeli added, "The refugees are not terrorists.
They are waiting to join their families and relatives."
     The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, asked the
assembly to acknowledge the work that both LSA and LIRS do on
behalf of the ELCA.
     LSA is an umbrella organization for the social ministry
organizations of the ELCA and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
It is the largest social-ministry organization in the United
States, reaching one in 50 Americans.
-- -- --
Information about the ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at on the Web.

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

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