Dear friends in Christ and brothers and sisters in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
We write today to invite you to join us in prayer and action for the mission and ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
Like you, we became children of God in the waters of Baptism. And, like you, we have found our primary identity with this church through local congregations, including the ones to which we now belong. This is where we receive Word and Sacrament that keep faith alive. We have also been blessed through the other two expressions of this church: our synods and the churchwide organization of the ELCA. All are gifts from God. Through them:
- Our faith was nourished in Sunday church school.
- Our gifts for leadership were nurtured in youth ministry.
- Our education at our colleges and seminaries enhanced our witness and service.
- Our vocations to serve Jesus Christ as pastors and leaders have been opened for us.
- Our call to minister to the poor and hungry and those treated unjustly is fulfilled.
- Our connection to believers in companion churches around the world has enriched us.
In recent months, our society and this church have been sailing through rough waters. Personal income is down for many; some are unemployed. We recognize that some sisters and brothers in Christ were disappointed in the decisions regarding human sexuality at the churchwide assembly, although we believe they were the right decisions. As a result, some have withdrawn or reduced support for our mission. The consequences of these events are painful. This church's mission and ministry have been diminished.
Our troubled world needs the Good News of the Gospel and all that flows from it. Our differences must not divide us at a time like this. We are absolutely certain that we can continue to live together and serve as one family in the ELCA.
This is why we are calling on you, our brothers and sisters in the faith, to pray daily for the unity of this church and its mission.
We ask you to join us as we step up our support of the ELCA with a generous gift. You may wish to do so before the end of the year and on occasion in the months to come. You may make your gift to the ELCA's Vision for Mission in one of three ways:
+ Online at http://www.elca.org/supporttheelca
+ By check made payable to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and sent to:
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
PO Box 71764
Chicago, IL 60694-1764
+ By credit or debit card by calling 800-638-3522.
This effort is entirely through the Internet. We urge you to send this e-mail message to your friends who share our concern for this church.
Sincerely in Christ,
Herbert W. Chilstrom, ELCA presiding bishop, 1987-1995
H. George Anderson, ELCA presiding bishop, 1995-2001