By Tom Holmes
Check out the highlites below of what just one denomination is doing to make a difference in the world. To me, it's a good argument why being spiritual but not religious doesn't fly very high. Of course, religious institutions have problems, but along with the problems are so many good programs which individuals are incapable of pulling off.
West and Central Africa: Growing food crisis
Inadequate rainfall, poor harvests and rising food costs have left nearly 15.5 million people, particularly children, in need of emergency food assistance. Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are working to provide food and other life-sustaining necessities like medical supplies and hygiene kits. Read more at www.elca.org/disaster or www.elca.org/news (click on News Releases in the left-hand column) or find an in-depth situation report at www.elca.org/~/media/Files/Disaster%20Response/West_Africa_Sitrep_1_031912.pdf.
Global water crisis claims more lives per year than war or natural disasters
Nearly a billion people -- that’s one out of seven people in our world today -- lack access to clean, safe water. Unclean water causes millions of people, especially young children, to die from water-related illnesses each year. Learn how ELCA youth can make a difference through the 100 Wells Challenge at www.elca.org/100wells.
World Malaria Day 2012
Take part in launching malaria work in Liberia -- where malaria accounts for 30 percent of all deaths seen in hospitals -- by helping to raise $200,000 between April 25 and May 1. Find bulletin inserts, prayers, hymns, offering envelopes and more resources for worship services on April 29 at www.elca.org/malaria.
Mexico: The gift of listening
Kat Heavner rarely had a free minute when she lived in Cuernavaca, Mexico. When she wasn’t teaching English to preschool and elementary students, she was preparing lunch at a community center for senior citizens or helping with a dance class, among other things. Read more about this ELCA young adult volunteer, or download a copy-ready insert at www.elca.org/stories.
Japan: "It's not all about Santa and presents, right?"
Fourth grader Emilie becomes a witness when she shares the story of Jesus' birth with her classmates in Japan. Read the entire story at www.elca.org/handinhand; click either the copy-ready bulletin insert or the Spring 2012 issue of the Hand in Hand newsletter.
Slovakia: "Many countries, one congregation"
The Bratislava International Congregation, with a remarkably diverse membership from many countries, denominations and occupations, has just welcomed its new pastor, ELCA missionary Miriam Schmidt. She and her husband, Jeremy Blythe, are also the new ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission coordinators for Central Europe. See http://blogs.elca.org/handinhand/.
Hosting a missionary this summer?
Is an ELCA missionary visiting your congregation this summer? Hold a potluck with PlaceMaps and ELCA Missionary Sponsorship offering envelopes for everyone. Both are available by calling 800-638-3522 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Larger orders may be placed through http://resources.elca.org.
Jamaica: Seeking clinical pastoral education supervisor
A CPE supervisor and trainer is sought for the United Theological College of the West Indies in Jamaica. See www.elca.org/globalserve/search and enter keyword Jamaica.
Earthquake relief, cultural exchanges and monthly prayers
Learn about these and other components of companion synod relationships through the online profiles updated recently by the Indiana-Kentucky, Northern Great Lakes, and Northwestern Ohio Synods of the ELCA. See www.elca.org/companionsynodprofiles.
Hunger Rumblings blog
Subscribe to the Hunger Rumblings blog where ELCA World Hunger staff and associates write about root causes of hunger, current events and other pertinent topics. See http://blogs.elca.org/hungerrumblings/.
Lutherans to discuss ecology online on May 12
Using a new interactive online format, The Lutheran World Federation is promoting a wider conversation on ecological justice. You are invited to participate in this first virtual conference. See www.elca.org/localevents or www.elca.org/ecumenical.
Glocal Mission Gathering in Cincinnati, Ohio, June 6-7
Equip yourself for God's work in today's global and local realities. Find more information and registration at www.elca.org/glocal.
In our prayers
Pray for Megan Ross who serves as an English teacher at the Deaconess School of the Protestant Christian Batak Church (HKBP) in Indonesia. As a deaconess, her walk with other women committing their lives to faith and service in Christ is an inspiration to those with whom she works. (This prayer for April 28 is available along with daily prayers from around the globe at www.elca.org/prayerventures. You may also see a short video from this school at www.elca.org/companionvoices.)
Global Links shares highlights from ELCA.org, LivingLutheran.com and other churchwide websites of ELCA ministry and connections in other countries.