Walking Together

... for Pr. Tom Rogers awaiting test results

Pr. Tom Rogers, Jr., pastor of Shepherd of the Hills, McHenry is awaiting results of some medical tests. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.

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Women of the ELCA BOLD Connections - February 2020

How do we 'just love' our neighbor?

Does love mean valentines and chocolates and red roses? Or does love mean sacrifice? Maybe love means delighting in someone’s company, or maybe it means untiring service, as a middle-aged daughter might give to her aging mother. Or maybe love means all these things–and more. Read our monthly devotion.
What is Just Love? Find out here.

Gather's summer Bible study focuses on 'Just Love'The Revs. Gladys Moore and Christa Compton are authors of Gather’s 2020 summer Bible study, “Just Love.” This three-session Bible study invites readers to consider how justice and love intersect. What does “just love” look like? How is this kind of love more than a sentimental or sanitized emotion, but is instead a love-in-action that seeks to dismantle the various systems of sin that damage God’s creation and harm God’s people?
The Rev. Dr. Christa M. Compton is pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Chatham, N.J.; and The Rev. Gladys Moore is pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Summit, N.J.
The Rev. Gladys Moore is leading Gather's summer Bible study, Just Love, at the Gathering 2020 in Phoenix, July 16-19.

Do you listen to Cafe's podcasts?Cafe, an online magazine for and with young adult women, offers a podcast for each of its monthly issues.
Listen now to one or more of Cafe's podcasts for young adult women who want to build Community, participate in Advocacy, strengthen Faith, and strive toward Enlightenment.

How will you celebrate Bold Women's Day this Feb. 23?Women of the ELCA celebrates Bold Women's Day on the fourth Sunday of February every year, this year on Feb. 23.On this day, congregational units honor or remember bold women from their community. To help you with your Bold Women’s Day planning, visit resources, certificates, and other downloadable items.
Let us know how will you celebratethe bold women in your congregation and community?

World Day of Prayer is March 6“Rise! Take your mat and walk.” This invitation written by our sisters in Zimbabwe is the foundation for the 2020 World Day of Prayer on Friday, March 6. Held on the first Friday in March, WDP is “a worldwide ecumenical movement of Christian women of many traditions who come together to observe a common day of prayer each year.”
Learn more about World Day of Prayer, officially celebrated since 1927, at

Horseshoe Bend Phoenix area tours enhance experience at Gathering 2020Phoenix in July is a cool place to be, even in the summer—especially when you’re in an air-conditioned building, tour bus, or steamboat.
Find out how you can participate in one of our tour offerings and enhance the fun you will have at the Gathering 2020, July 16-19, by enjoying top sights in Arizona.

Read our popular blogs

What's on your reading list? Pick a word to guide you through the coming year If you catch the optimism, the future can be bright

Support our ministry

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Fat Tuesday Swedish Pancake Breakfast

Zion Lutheran Church invites you to the 2020 Fat Tuesday Swedish Pancake Breakfast (all you can eat Swedish Pancakes) on February 25 from 8am-1pm.

The cost is $8 for Adults and $4 Children (under 12). Tickets are available at the door or you can call to reserve your tickets.

The meal includes Lingonberries, sausage, butter, milk, juice, or coffee (all you can eat is for pancakes only). Carryout orders are available. 

The Fat Tuesday breakfast is held at Zion Lutheran Church - 925 Fifth Avenue - Rockford, IL.

The proceeds benefit the 2020 Zion Civil Rights Trip to the South that Zion is coordinating that is inter-generational and multicultural.

For more information, call Zion at 815-964-4609 or email Zion at This event is sponsored by Zion Lutheran Church.

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ELCA Advocacy Connections

Travel ban extended
On Jan. 31, 2020, the Trump administration announced an expansion of the January 2017 travel ban to include more countries in Africa and Asia. Under the new policy, citizens from Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan will be barred from applying for visas to immigrate to the United States. The National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act would address this executive action and assist those of us escaping perilous or life-threatening situations. Support for the NOBAN Act can be facilitated in a current Action Alert (below).
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Girls' education
On Jan. 28, the House of Representatives passed the Keeping Girls in School Act, a bill that seeks to strengthen U.S. international programs by reducing education barriers faced by millions of girls around the world. The bill calls on continued U.S. government and private investments to ensure quality and equitable education, promotes girls’ empowerment and streamlines existing programs.

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Disaster aid for Puerto Rico
The House of Representatives passed legislation to provide an emergency aid package for Puerto Rico in the wake of ongoing earthquakes and aftershock damage to the island. Support for this emergency aid in the Senate is the subject of an Action Alert (below), which emphasizes the lowest-income families in the greatest distress and the pressing need for authorizing proactive disaster policies for the greater United States.

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Fair housing rule
In January the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a new rule that would weaken oversight and national data on fair-housing initiatives in low-income communities of color. Under the new proposal, the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule would be rendered almost completely ineffectual. Before March 16, use the Action Alert (below) to make a public comment discouraging implementation of the change.

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ELCA partners with 2020 Census 
The ELCA is an official partner of the 2020 Census as we work toward a just world where all are fed and further our commitment to greater justice in public policy and the electoral process. More than $675 billion in federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities is based on census data. An accurate count determines electoral maps and ensures that resources more justly go where they are needed most, including to vital programs that combat poverty and hunger and support people in need.

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New travel restrictions placed on additional countries as introduced on Jan. 31 by the Trump administration compel us to speak out.

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The Senate is poised to take up an emergency aid package for Puerto Rico in the wake of ongoing earthquakes and aftershock damages to the island.

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The Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed weakening oversight and national data on fair-housing initiatives in low-income communities of color. Public comments are open through March 16.

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Against the backdrop of escalating tensions, urge Congress to constrain our country's militarization of the Middle East. Also, find response to President Trump's "Peace to Prosperity" plan in a Peace Not Walls blog post (Jan. 29, 2020).

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Synod and congregational green teams as well as individuals are invited to take part in a webinar training to equip us to talk about climate change and its impacts for the church and advocate for climate solutions locally and nationally. Registration will be announced on Facebook. Hold the date!
Registration is open! The ELCA is a sponsor of this D.C.-based opportunity for worship, education, training and advocacy activity. This year's theme is “Imagine! God's Earth and People Restored" and interfaces with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

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Crucial Conversations with Pr. Edie Lenz and Pr. Scott Stephan

February 20, 2020

9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

As ministers, we dwell in crucial conversations that have the potential to shape people’s lives daily.  We are honored to share space with people in their deepest highs and lows; in times of peace and extreme stress. 

Have you ever found yourself reacting out of anxiety or responding in ways you did not think you would? 

It happens AND we can continue to grow as people after God’s heart, in tune with God’s love for us and all of humanity, open to the Spirit and tooled up to be fully present and focused on the people we are extending care too. 

Join Pastor Lenz and Pastor Stephan in exploring how we can continue to grow as human beings and ministers of the Gospel best serve others through Crucial Conversations. 

This workshop includes interactive exploration of how to participate in Crucial Conversations.

*Schedule is subject to change

  • 9-9:30 Registration
  • 9:30-10:00 Introductions and Devotions
  • 10:00-10:30 How do you show up in conversations?
    Exploring Anxiety and Default Settings
  • 10:30-10:45 Break
  • 10:45-12:15 How do you stay defined and connected?
    Conversing with Courage, Curiosity, and Love
  • 12:15-1:00 Lunch
  • 1:00-3:15 Developing Crucial Conversation Skills
  • 3:15-3:30 Closing Remarks and Prayer

Fee (includes registration and lunch): $35 if registered by February 5, 2020, $50 February 6-20, 2020

First, Geneseo (114 E Main St., Geneseo)

Scholarships are available.

Register online using the form on this page or contact Synod Registrar Nancy Corey at or 309-794-4004.

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Making Christ Known

    We Are Broken - Presiding Bishop

    Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

    In 1526 the reformers embarked on a program of visiting the parishes in Electoral Saxony. It’s known as the Saxon Visitation. As would later be stated in the Augsburg Confession, its objective was to determine if “the gospel is taught purely and the sacraments are administered rightly.”

    Martin Luther himself visited the parishes in and around Wittenberg. He wasn’t pleased. He found that many clergy didn’t receive adequate compensation, and that the gospel was not clearly taught or understood.

    Luther, In his inimitable subtle style, wrote: “Dear God, what misery I beheld! The ordinary person, especially in the villages, knows absolutely nothing about the Christian faith, and unfortunately many pastors are completely unskilled and incompetent teachers. Yet supposedly they all bear the name Christian, are baptized, and receive the holy sacrament, even though they do not know the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, or the Ten Commandments! As a result, they live like simple cattle or irrational pigs and, despite the fact that the gospel has returned, have mastered the fine art of misusing all their freedom.” Yikes!

    Luther’s experience led to the publication of his Small Catechism, a “Handbook for Ordinary Pastors and Preachers.” In clear and concise language, he explained the basics of the Christian faith so that all people, not just educated professionals, could understand the great gift of the gospel and live it in daily life.

    Theologian Timothy Wengert points out that Luther rearranged the typical order of medieval catechisms to make clear the evangelical understanding that the good news means law and gospel, judgment and promise. Luther “insisted on moving from law (Ten Commandments) to gospel (Creed and Lord’s Prayer).”

    This uniquely Lutheran understanding of the gospel is an important contribution to the Christian movement.

    This uniquely Lutheran understanding of the gospel is an important contribution to the Christian movement. It calls out the reality of the human condition, that we are broken and have broken creation, that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves, that we need a just and loving God who has no illusions about human nature and, at the same time, has infinite love that claims us and sets us free.

    This is true evangelicalism that rejects what I call the “Billy Joel gospel” that declares: “I like you just the way you are.” God’s love is unconditional, but God does not like us just the way we are—that’s why we have Jesus.

    I am concerned that our branch of the Lutheran movement can become watered down to the point of Christian Moralistic Therapeutic Deism—a concept developed by Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton in their 2005 study of common beliefs of American youth. To paraphrase very roughly the results of their study: God exists, God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, the central goal in life is to be happy and feel good about oneself, God does not need to be particularly in one’s life except when God is needed to solve a problem, and good people go to heaven when they die.

    In this philosophy, there is no awe in the presence of the Transcendent, no turning outward from self, no horror of the reality and the effects of sin—and not in the narrow sense of individual moral failings—no wonder at the intimate love of God shown in the incarnation and the crucifixion, no deep gratitude for the liberation of the resurrection.

    In 2017, I called this church to study Luther’s Small Catechism. I think we did for a while. I ask that we all study it again, use it in Bible study and preaching, refer to it when navigating the demands of daily life, incorporate it in our work of justice and advocacy, use it in honest self-examination, and trust its witness to the gospel when we receive the Lord’s consolation. Luther said he needed to study it every day—and he wrote it! Let’s us do the same.

    Article originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of Living Lutheran. Reprinted with permission.

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