ELCA Announces it is Withdrawing from the Lutheran Malaria Initiative for Financial Reasons, but The LCMS and CPH Remain Strong Partners in the Effort!
I’m sad to read that the ELCA is backing out of its commitments to the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, but very happy that The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod remains strongly committed to it, in conjunction with Lutheran World Relief. In fact, Lutheran World Relief worked directly with Concordia Publishing House to produce the premier children’s resource to help congregations promote and advance this effort, particularly among children. We are now working to have this little book translated into African languages and used as a teaching tool to help people learn how to prevent malaria, a horrible disease that kills a child in Africa every thirty seconds! The name of the book is Little Things Make Big Differences. Here is a sample from the book. And, the Lutheran Malaria Initiative is the mission project being sponsored during our 2011 Vacation Bible School, Big Jungle Adventure.
It is utterly reprehensible that the ELCA is withdrawing from its commitments, placing the lives of who-knows-how-many children at risk, and even perhaps contributing to their death because it will not be a part of this effort, and does not want to support a churchwide fund raiser for fear it will take money away from the already shrinking amount of money funding the administrative functions at their Chicago headquarters. Unbelievable.
[NOTE: Since posting this a person associated with the ELCA administration in Chicago wanted to make clear that the ELCA is planning on trying to raise $15 million dollars for its own malaria efforts. He described this as the "largest" fund raising effort in ELCA history.]
Here is the unfortunate story from the ELCA’s news service.
ELCA NEWS SERVICE
September 30, 2010
ELCA Strengthens Malaria Work Through New, Focused Effort
CHICAGO (ELCA) — The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), announced Sept. 30 that the ELCA will maintain and build its commitment toward a comprehensive effort to contain and prevent malaria, while making some changes to the structure of the project. The 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly authorized continued development of a campaign to respond to malaria.
“Our commitment to sisters and brothers in Africa remains firm,” Hanson said. “This new, focused effort will assist the ELCA to keep our commitments strong and allow us to bring health and hope to those affected by malaria in Africa.”
The project, known as the “ELCA Malaria Campaign,” has been “right-sized” for the current realities of the ELCA, the presiding bishop added.
Hanson noted there have been declines in mission support and other income sources to the ELCA. Because of those financial realities, he said that ELCA churchwide leaders determined that it was not feasible to propose a $30 million LMI fundraising campaign to the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
As a result the ELCA churchwide organization withdrew a grant proposal to the United Nations Foundation (UNF), ending the ELCA’s involvement in the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI) partnership, Hanson said. The LMI was to be a partnership of the ELCA, Lutheran World Relief (LWR), The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the UNF. The ELCA’s withdrawal from the UNF grant process should not be seen as a reflection on the ELCA’s working relationship with any of the other partners, Hanson said.
The 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly authorized “continued development” of the LMI with the other partners. The assembly also requested that a report and recommendations for a “possible churchwide campaign” for the LMI be brought to the 2011 assembly.
In keeping with the spirit of the assembly action, the ELCA Malaria Campaign intends to engage with at least 10 companion churches in Africa to contain, prevent and treat malaria, Hanson said. The new ELCA initiative will build on work already done by companion churches in Africa and pilot synods of the ELCA, and it will carry forward much of the work done through the LMI, he said.
Hanson said he will present to the ELCA Church Council in November a proposal for the ELCA Malaria Campaign. The council is the ELCA’s board of directors and interim legislative authority between churchwide assemblies. A proposal for a possible churchwide fundraising campaign is expected to be presented to the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
For now the ELCA churchwide organization will continue to develop the ELCA Malaria Campaign, and encourage prayer, advocacy, education and fundraising. Some “pilot synods” of the ELCA will continue their work to develop the ELCA’s malaria effort, Hanson said. There are 10 pilot synods for 2010-2011.
Though the ELCA will not be part of LMI, the church plans to work cooperatively with LWR in Tanzania and other places where working together advances the malaria prevention and treatment effort, Hanson said. “We are also exploring a possible shared approach in malaria fundraising at ELCA colleges and universities with LWR,” he said.
Companion churches and the ELCA Global Mission program unit will continue to work with the Global Fund “as these churches grow in their capacity to respond to HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” said Hanson, adding the ELCA’s continuing involvement in “Nothing But Nets” is still under consideration.