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Note: This is part of a series on the Social Statements adopted by the ELCA in Assembly. Previous reflections are available at www.montanasynod.org, archived.
The US has been embroiled in debate about health care coverage and cost for several decades, and the ELCA has been part of the conversation. In 2003 the Churchwide Assembly adopted a Social Statement on health, healing and health care, called “Caring for Health: Our Shared Endeavor.” In the first paragraph we read: “As a personal and social responsibility, health care is a shared endeavor.”
Beginning with a brief statement of the health care crisis the statement quickly moves to the role of the church. “The Christian Church is called to be an active participant in fashioning a just and effective health care system.” “We of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American have an enduring commitment to work for and support health care for all people as a shared endeavor.”
Update on the flood damage to the Galilee Church and children’s center in Cobija, Bolivia
A week and half ago a flood cause severe damage to the church an children’s center in Cobija, a ministry of the Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church, our companion synod. The children’s center ministers to at-risk children in this border city, where violence and drugs are rampant. For many children this is the safe place where they can go. Our Synod Assembly offering in 2015 went to improve the water system at the farm that supports this church and center. Now the ministry is threatened by the flood that made the walls unstable. Below is a note from Mary Campbell, the Companion Synod Coordinator for Latin America:
The first step of removing the damages has already been completed. The cost of the two walls that were totally destroyed will be $10,000 and work has already been started to reconstruct them as their absence compromises the security of the property.
The church would be happy to accept gifts to defray this expense. The damage to the church was limited to the roof but they have been able to use it for worship.
You can send your gifts to Montana Synod, with Cobija flooding on the memo line.
Montana Synod Delegation at the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly
Several years ago I attended a Jewish-Christian conference in Maryland that included a trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. Aside from the impact the museum had on me (I slept for 12 hours), I cannot forget the Jewish woman who stood up and said: please tell your students the difference between being anti-Semitic and being anti-Jewish. Since then I have been teaching that Hitler was anti-Semitic, while Luther and other reformers were anti-Jewish, angry that the Jews would not or could not believe as Christians did.
By the time of the Reformation, most Jews had been chased out of Western Europe. Spain and Italy remained safe havens for Jewish scholars who were instrumental in bringing Hebrew studies to the North. Beginning with Petrarch in Italy, secular scholars called humanists called for a re-examination of texts, both classical and biblical, using primary sources, in an effort to correct faulty translations and misinterpretations. As Pastor Tom Lee explains in his article, the idea was to study a text in its original cultural context. This, of course, necessitated the study of ancient languages, including the Hebrew and Greek of the Bible.
Martin Luther was an Old Testament professor who knew the loving and merciful God through his study of the Psalms, the prophets, and the Book of Genesis. Christian humanists, especially, encouraged church leaders to take another look at Genesis with its emphasis on the goodness and beauty of all creation and human beings made in God’s image.
Pastor Lee points to the rise in popularity of studying Hebrew in order to uncover the same loving and forgiving God in the Old Testament that Christians continue to meet in the New Testament. This is an invitation to take another look at the Old Testament.
Pastor Judy Wozniak
Cochabamba and Futbol