March 14 - 20, 2005



‘Among the gravest of sins’


Martin Luther wrote: “If you send a person away naked when you could clothe him, you have let him freeze to death. If you see anyone suffer hunger and do not feed him, you have let him starve.”


ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson recalled Luther’s words as he joined leaders of four other denominations – Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, and the United Church of Christ – and the National Council of Churches to denounce the 2006 federal budget proposal.


Together they called for their millions of members – and all who follow Jesus Christ – to oppose the budget because it calls for dramatic cuts in programs that assist the working poor while increasing tax breaks to high income earners.


Recounting Jesus’s familiar story of Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke 16, the leaders call the proposal “unjust.” Here is an excerpt from their joint statement:


“In telling this story, Jesus makes clear that perpetrating economic injustice is among the gravest of sins. … The 2006 Federal Budget that President Bush has sent to Capitol Hill is unjust. It has much for the rich man and little for Lazarus. According to the White House’s own numbers, this budget would move 300,000 people off food stamps in the next five years. It would cut the funds that allow 300,000 children to receive day care. It would reduce funding for Medicaid by $45 billion over the next ten years, and this at a time when 45 million Americans—the highest level on record—are already without health insurance.”


“These cuts would be alarming in any circumstances, but in the context of the 2006 budget, they are especially troubling. For even as it reduces aid to those in poverty, this budget showers presents on the rich.”


This week’s Gleanings provide a roundup of news and commentary on the budget proposal, which outlines spending not only for the next fiscal year but also the years to come. For a good overview, check out the Background Paper prepared by the ELCA Advocacy Office.


Take the advice of Bishop Hanson and other leaders and let your U.S. Representatives and Congressmen know that as faithful followers of Jesus Christ, you want the federal budget to reflect biblical principles of economic justice and care for the poor.


Click here to take action via the ELCA Advocacy Office.

Click here to take action via Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace.

Click here to learn more from -- a campaign of the National Council on Churches.

Click here for a perspective from the Bread for the World Institute.


--Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster



New this week:



Douglas John Hall to speak Oct. 27 at Gettysburg Seminary
Mark your calendars! Noted theologian Douglas John Hall will give two talks on stewardship at Lutheran School of Theology at Gettysburg on Oct. 27. The talks will be followed by a discussion period. Registration costs $10 per person and includes lunch.
Click here for details of the program and registration




20 stewardship best practices by thriving congregations
When it comes to stewardship, what does your congregation do right? What could it begin to do? What could it do better? Here's a handy list of 20 best practices put together by the Central States Synod. Click here for the list. PDF document requires Adobe Reader (click here for a free download).



Blessings above and beyond 10 percent
This week, columnist Dana Reardon praises a man who gives 30 percent of his income to God. "Most of us are always a couple of thousand away from thinking we have enough for ourselves --  much less enough to be that generous.  How did he discover that he had enough for himself and more?" Click here for Dana Reardon's column.



'Samaritan stewardship' Bible study

Here's a fresh take on the familiar story of the Good Samaritan -- a look at the stewardship implications of each of the characters involved, and they inform our own approach to giving. A creative study by the New Jersey Synod Stewardship Team.  Click here for this resource, posted on the website of the New Jersey Synod.



Vision Fulfillment
 Facing a major capital campaign? Here's one expert's step-by-step strategy for accomplishing going from vision to fulfillment. "Every successful capital campaign, whether for new construction, renovation, debt reduction, or budget enhancement, has a structure and a timeline from inception to completion. While campaign lengths vary, four years is typical, and a capital campaign firm is involved at strategic points when expertise and organization are needed most." Click here for Vision Fulfillment. From