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ELCA members strive to reduce hunger in the United States

Every week it’s a shot in the dark for how much food Harry and Eunice Burch will need to prepare. But one thing both Harry and Eunice agree on is that it will be a while before they prepare beef stew again. Harry stood and cut beef for four hours one evening and has the blisters to show for it.

The Burch’s organize Trinity’s Table, a community outreach ministry of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Charleston, W.Va. Over the past two years, members of the congregation like Harry and Eunice have served more than 17,000 balanced, nutritious meals for people who come Sunday evenings for supper.

Thanks to grants from ELCA World Hunger, programs like these are made possible.

Harry said the congregation is positioned to provide 12,000 meals in 2012 for people who do not have access to food.

“This truly speaks to the number of people in need out there,” said Harry. “I can only hope and pray that we never serve this many meals again,” he said.

Gifts to ELCA World Hunger not only reach communities most in need overseas but also in the United States. A significant portion of ELCA World Hunger funds are allocated to fight hunger and poverty here through domestic hunger grants.

Distributed annually, these grants support hundreds of food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and community programs that address hunger and its causes.

Many of these ministries are organized by ELCA congregations and Lutheran organizations. Priority is given to people with the least resources for meeting basic human needs and to women and children living in poverty.

Congregations and organizations applying for an ELCA World Hunger grant must have projects that fall into one of four categories – advocacy, development, organizing and relief. A committee reviews applications and makes recommendations for funding in connection with the ELCA’s 65 synods.

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ELCA releases draft social statement on criminal justice

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is addressing issues in the U.S. criminal justice system. The perspective of an ELCA task force on the topic is featured in the “Draft Social Statement on Criminal Justice” released to ELCA members and to the public March 15. While commending positive aspects of the system, the draft conveys some dissatisfaction with many areas about the criminal justice system that urgently need reform.

Feedback from ELCA members is requested by October 31, 2012. Get more information, download the draft statement, and respond online at www.ELCA.org/socialstatements/criminaljustice. Printed copies can be ordered at www.ELCA.org/resources or by calling 800-683-3522.

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ELCA leaders respond to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin

The shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., has called members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to engage in the work of “restoring and reconciling communities, pursuing justice and peace no matter how long the journey or wide the chasm,” said ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson.

“The deep sorrow of Trayvon Martin’s family has become our shared public lament,” he said. “The tragedy of Trayvon’s death must move us to ask searching questions. How much longer shall any child live in fear because of the color of their skin? Are we, who are white, ready to confront our power and privilege for the sake of a more just and inclusive society? Are we as a nation ready to reform our criminal justice system?”

An ELCA task force recently released a draft social statement on criminal justice that calls for urgent reform with areas of the U.S. criminal justice system, such as persistent inequalities and injustices based on race and class.

“Now is the time for all in the ELCA to live up to its commitment made in our social statement ‘Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity and Culture,'” said Hanson, where ELCA members commit “to ‘model an honest engagement with issues of race, ethnicity and culture, by being a community of mutual conversation, mutual correction and mutual consolation.’ And further, we will ‘participate in identifying the demands of justice and work with others who would have justice for all.'”

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