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Situated on lush farmland, nestled within and east of the rolling Loess Hills and the storied Missouri River, the Western Iowa Synod is one of 3 ELCA Synods in Iowa and one of 65 ELCA Synods in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
We believe that in our baptism, we have been claimed, named, forgiven, and promised new life. We believe that we are called to live in the “covenant God made with us in holy baptism: to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth” (ELW p. 236)
Through the ELCA Social Statements we teach that all residents of the United States have a responsibility to make government function well. This responsibility is lived out as a calling from God, expressed in the discipleship described in our baptismal promises. It is based on our understanding of how God governs human society.”
And while to many it may seem political, we are indeed called to pay attention, to pray, to be engaged, to vote, and to keep our eyes on the Good News of Jesus which prompts “Lutherans to ask one simple but all-encompassing question: is the neighbor being served?”
Is the neighbor being served? My heart aches as I ask this question and struggle to make sense of the bills introduced during this current legislative session that put LBGTQ adults and children at risk. These proposed bills focus on gender identity related to children, their parents/guardians, educators, and healthcare providers preventing accommodation, privacy, education, or healthcare.
The ELCA is a church that firmly believes that every human being, regardless of gender identity, should have access to education, privacy, accommodations, and healthcare.
We believe that God calls us to love all people.
We believe that LGBTQ people are beloved children of God.
"The ELCA is a church that belongs to Christ and Christ’s church universal, where there is a place for everyone. The call of Christ’s people today is to celebrate the diversity of God’s creative work and embrace all people in the spirit of love, regardless of race or ethnicity, economic status or gender.” in the same document, “…it is important to remember the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) rejects all forms of hatred or discrimination. This includes employment discrimination against the transgender community, as stated in “Gender Identity Discrimination,” a policy resolution that was adopted by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.”
Let us ask – is the neighbor being served?
Let us live with courage and love -
Let us together pray –
Mighty and merciful God, lover of justice and equity, you call us to support the marginalized, to help those who suffer, and to honor all people. By the power of your holy Spirit, make us advocates for your justice and instruments of your peace, so that all may be reconciled in your beloved community; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen (adapted from ACS,p. 47)
The Rev. Lorna H. Halaas
Bishop, Western Iowa Synod, ELCA
ELCA. “Government and Civic Engagement Social Message.” 2017. https://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Government_and_Civic_Engagement_Social_Message.pdf?_ga=2.186583918.654093864.1677259457-1290446844.1667410172
*Resolutions and other reports are available on the Western Iowa Synod website www.wisynod.org. Click on Synod Assembly
The three Iowa Bishops are riding the 50th annual RAGBRAI to raise $50,000 to fight hunger and highlighting 50 anti-hunger ministries along the way. There are several ways to be part of the team!
Accept Bishop Lorna's challenge: donate for Bp Lorna to wear your ministry's t-shirt for a day (only 6 left) or a sticker for her helmet. If she gets too many, her bike gets decorated too.
Share with your congregation: Make a plan to share this information with your congregation to support the Bishops' peddling by giving a gift to fight hunger in Iowa and throughout the world through ELCA World Hunger. Donate here.
Buy a Mile: $1 per mile. How many will you buy? The Ragbrai route is 500 miles.
Highlight a hunger ministry: Share your anti-hunger ministry - be part of map of hunger ministries in Iowa. Complete form here.
Buy a T-Shirt: Get a limited edition One Iowa Three Synods shirt.
Visit the Bishops' RAGBRAI website. (This site will continue to be updated.)
HUNGER around the world and in Iowa is on the rise after declining for a decade.
- 2014 8.1 million people needed lifesaving humanitarian assistance.
- 2023 340 million who need it.
HUNGER in the United States
- 1 in 5 U.S. children are at risk of hunger (Bread for the World)
- More than 9.5 million adults 50+ rely on SNAP (AARP)
HUNGER in Iowa
- SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program) a part of the US Farm Bill
helps 1 in 12 fulltime workers put food on their table
- 69% are families with children
- 815,000 tons of surplus food went to waste in 2019 in Iowa
Ask: “I am just one person, what can I do?”
Answer: You can write a letter, send an email, advocate for your neighbors. Make your voice heard!
Join with other congregations from around Iowa and Bread for the World, a respected, ecumenical advocacy organization, to participate in a letter writing campaign to our leaders in congress. Urge Congress to support a farm bill that builds healthy, equitable, and sustainable food systems.
Iowans, we are in a unique position, our congressional delegation in both the House of Representatives and Senate serve on the Agriculture Committees and subcommittees. Letters from you, people of faith, congregations of the ELCA, will make a difference!
Senator Grassley - Letter to Senator Grassley
Senator Ernst - Letter to Senator Ernst
Representative Feenstra - Letter to Rep. Feenstra
Representative Nunn - Letter to Rep. Nunn
Iowa Interfaith Power & Light also offers an electronic letter via a fillable form: A Faithful Farm Bill
Bread for the World – Farm Bill Platform & Information
Western Iowa Synod & Bread for the World training video recording
The US Farm Bill, which must be reauthorized every 5 years, expires Sept. 30, 2023. Nutrition is a large portion of the Farm Bill providing funding for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the largest governmental anti-hunger program.
More information is available through the Western Iowa Synod Office.
“Stories. Stories tell us who we are, and stories tell us whose we are. My story begins here in the waters of baptism-where I was on a Sunday morning, marked with the cross of Christ, sealed with the Holy Spirit, where I was named beloved, child of God.”
Click to hear the rest of Bishop Lorna’s message and her invitation to you.
Check out the 2023 Assembly webpage for resources and updates.
Online Registration open beginning January 27, 2023.
This is a new opportunity to build new relationships with Lutheran Services in Iowa, the Storm Lake community, and to model partnerships between congregations and synod.
It is exciting to look forward to this new chapter of ministry in the synod.
The new mailing address is:
1614 W. 5th Street
Storm Lake, IA 50588
Phone number remains the same: 712-732-4968
Recent news from around the Synod and the ELCA.
Mark your calendars for these great events coming up.