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ELCA members cite progress toward sustainable HIV response, but not enough
Leaders from the ELCA attended the 2012 International AIDS Conference July 22-27 in Washington, D.C., as advocates of the ELCA Strategy on HIV and AIDS.
“We are at a critical moment in the response to HIV,” according to Dennis Frado, who directs the Lutheran Office for World Community and serves as the primary ELCA representative at the United Nations in New York.
“Progress has been made, but it is not enough and will be lost if political will and financial commitments are reduced now. Faith communities are therefore committed to strengthening ongoing work and partnerships to ensure a strategic, sustainable, and effective HIV response,” said Frado, who attended an inter-faith pre-conference July 20-21. The inter-faith pre-conference met under the theme “Taking Action for Health, Dignity and Justice.”
Ten ELCA representatives attended the International AIDS conference, the primary meeting for those working in the field of HIV and AIDS that included policy makers, people living with the virus, and others who have dedicated their lives to building a strategic response. About 25,000 participants from 200 countries attended the conference, including representatives from The Lutheran World Federation, a global communion of 145 churches in 79 countries worldwide. The ELCA is the federation’s only church member from the United States.
The HIV and AIDS crisis has claimed the lives of nearly 30 million people worldwide. The goals of the ELCA Strategy on HIV and AIDS include efforts to help halt the spread of HIV, reduce the conditions of poverty that contribute to the spread, and eliminate the stigma and discrimination experienced by those who are HIV-positive.
“I’m actually quite pleased and proud to be part of our church,” said Sarah Dreier, program director of international policy and advocacy for ELCA churchwide ministries.
In 2009 the ELCA Church Council adopted the ELCA Strategy on HIV and AIDS, encouraging ELCA congregations, synods and church-related social ministry organizations to welcome, support, and advocate with individuals living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in their communities.
More information at www.ELCA.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Justice/Poverty-Ministries/HIV-and-AIDS/About-the-Strategy.aspx.
ELCA leaders support Christian leaders’ call for immigration reform
Three top leaders of the ELCA strongly support a recent statement by ecumenical Christian leaders who are calling for a bipartisan solution to U.S. immigration reform.
In a July 2 response, ELCA leaders said that the “Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform” echoes some of the ELCA’s own principles, such as respecting the God-given dignity of every person, upholding family unity, and establishing a pathway to legal status and citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
The ELCA has a long-standing commitment to calling for comprehensive federal immigration reform and support for the DREAM Act — legislation that would provide a path for citizenship for undocumented immigrant youth.
“Working with our evangelical brothers and sisters on behalf of immigrants and refugees is a witness to Christian unity, enacted in service to our neighbors,” said the Rev. Jessica Crist, chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops and bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod.
Crist, along with the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, and the Rev. H. Julian Gordy, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Synod, Atlanta, and chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops’ Task Force on Immigration, wrote the July 2 response directed to Steven Bauman, president and CEO of World Relief, and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Bauman and Anderson are two signatories of the statement of principles.
Along with the religious community, the ELCA “will continue to call on Congress and the administration to work together to pass into law federal immigration reform that recognizes that our nation has achieved greatness due to the resilience, labor, intellect and faith of the immigrants who join our communities in the United States.”
The 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly approved a resolution that calls this church, in partnership with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, to continue to advocate for immigration reform.
ELCA congregations provide critical services to migrant populations, spread the word of welcome, and advocate for fair and humane immigration reform.