This post comes early this week, and I am sure you know why. Putting aside some questions and observations of what it means to be the church today for a moment, I want to think about the recent disaster in Japan and share something that I know our church and churches do well as Lutherans: Responding to those in need.
Both the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) and LCMS (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) have wonderful network s of mission partners across the world in which to engage those impacted by war, disease, hunger and natural disaster. (Other church bodies do too of course, but as a Lutheran Christian these are the relationships of which I am most aware, and hope to open that possibility to you too.)
In 2010 ELCA World Hunger raised $3.3 million in December alone reaching a new annual record of dollars for the ELCA in supporting the hungry across the world. http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx?a=4711
In our country, Lutheran Services in America provides many communities with the support through many organizations that partner our denominations, Lutheran Socail Services branches, congregations and individuals, serving God in the world, by caring for the most vulnerable among us. LSA ranks 31 out of 400 on a list of service organizations compiled by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the newspaper that covers nonprofit news and issues. http://www.lutheranservices.org/news_philanthropy400_09
Lutheran World Relief remains one of the strongest church support organizations in the world providing long term assistance to those in need through the support of individuals, congregations and denominations. According to the LWR Annual report, “In 2009, LWR sent $13.5 million worth of quilts and kits to 742,560 people in 22 countries. That’s 378,050 quilts, 231,360 school kits, 93,111 health kits, 25,875 sewing kits, 68,890 layettes, 33,750 pounds of soap.” http://lwr.org/about/docs/2009ar.pdf (St. Michael’s has been a long time participant in these efforts through LWR).
As of Monday, March 14, The Lutheran World Relief website redirects those interested in helping support the effort to help those in Japan to both the ELCA and LCMS Disaster Relief ministries.
Here is a report by ELCA Disaster Response on March 11, 2011:
“‘The ELCA has 22 missionaries serving in Japan, working in partnership with the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church.…Within the first hour we heard requests for prayer from our partner churches. If you’d like to stand with them through your financial support, I would encourage you to give through ELCA Disaster Response. Gifts designated to the Pacific Earthquake and Tsunami fund will be used entirely — 100 percent — in response to this disaster,’ said the Rev. Daniel Rift, director for the ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal.”
Lent is a time of prayer, generosity and getting back to basics. In light of the recent devastation and need in so many places throughout the world (including Japan) http://www.elca.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Responding-to-the-World/Disaster-Response.aspx, I hope you will consider your own generosity of prayer and financial support; not only to your local congregation and neighboring communities, but to those beyond ourselves throughout God’s world.
Here are ways to financially conrtribute to this effort.
Through Your Congregation:
Your congregation may have a coordinated effort to send one large gift, rather than several smaller ones. At St. Michael’s, where I serve as pastor, we are making it an option for people to submit a check with the designation for “Japan” in the memo line, then we will send one check (100% of what was contributed) to ELCA Disaster Response. We are also making available the three ways to contribute directly as listed below.
As Pastor Rift, says in the article above, 100 percent of these funds will get passed to Japan through a direct gift. Here is how to contribute directly:
Financial gifts can be contributed through the ELCA Disaster Response Website: https://community.elca.org/netcommunity/page.aspx?pid=631
Credit card gifts may be contributed by calling 1-800-638-3522.
Gifts designated for the “Pacific Earthquake and Tsunami” can also be sent to:
ELCA Disaster Response
39330 Treasury Center
Chicago, IL 60694-9300.
“Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7),