Thursday, July 17, 2008

ELCA Middle East staffing update

I'm late sharing this information about changes and additions to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA - staff whose work intersects with the ELCA's Peace Not Walls campaign. I have added a few links to the ELCA memo.

Middle East for Networking Update
June 10, 2008

1. Director for Middle East Policy in Washington , D.C. [from Rebecca Larson, Executive Director, ELCA Church in Society]
On behalf of Church in Society and Global Mission I would like to announce the hiring of the Reverend Susan P. Wilder as the new Director for Middle East Policy in Washington , D.C. and welcome her to the ELCA. She will be based in the ELCA Washington office - - and will begin her work June 16.

Rev. Wilder lived in Jerusalem with her family between 1999 and 2002 and brings to this position a knowledge of and passion for the issues affecting people in the region. She has served in ecumenical and interfaith networks as grassroots organizer, speaker, and educator, working to raise awareness about the nature of the Israeli/Palestinian impasse and how the faith community can be a change agent for peace. She has worked in partnership with Israelis and Palestinians in pursuit of a just peace. In advocacy with congress, the White House, and the State Department she has articulated a vision for compassionate justice that addresses the welfare of all concerned.

Rev. Wilder is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. , and has served churches in the Washington , DC area. In this way she also embodies the commitment of the ELCA to work ecumenically on these important issues and to work toward a stronger, combined public presence by people of faith, both in the Holy Land and for advocacy work in the United States. Rev. Wilder will make a significant contribution to the ELCA's public work and witness.

2. Communications Assistant to Bishop Munib Younan and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and Palestine (ELCJHL - [next three notices from Robert Smith, Europe Middle East Desk Director, ELCA Global Mission]

Allison Schmitt, called to serve as ELCJHL communications assistant, is currently employed as a writer, editor and photographer at Luther Seminary ( St. Paul , Minn. ). She received a B.A. in Mass Communications from Mankato State University ( Mankato , Minn. ) in 1990 and a M.A. in Systematic Theology from Luther Seminary in 2007. Her previous experience includes desktop publications, writing, editing, research and design for various newspapers and publishing companies. She has excellent computer skills and is familiar with numerous software programs. Allison is a member of an ELCA two-synod Peace with Justice group, has participated in letter-writing campaigns for Bread for the World. Her previous international experience includes one month volunteering at the Quo Vadis Interfaith Dialogue Center in Tamil Nadu, India .

3. Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) Program and Trips Coordinator
Martin Shoffner has been called by the ELCA to serve a dual function: half of his position is designated for the coordination of ELCA trips to Palestine (including official delegations); the other half is designated for the coordination of the Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM - program being instituted in Palestine . The YAGM program means that Martin represents another six missionaries who will be coming to work during 2008-9 with the schools and other institutions of the ELCJHL.

Martin is married to Suzanne Shoffner, a PC(USA) pastor, who is designated as a Global Mission Associate. Martin recently retired from his home-building business in North Carolina . He graduated from Guilford College (Greensboro, NC) in 2007 with a dual degree in Peace and Conflict Studies and Anthropology.

4. ELCA Regional Representative for the Middle East
Rev. Peter Johnson has been called to serve as the ELCA Regional Representative for the Middle East . He and his family will be based in Cairo . The regional representative position will be a new relationship for ELCA accompaniment in the Middle East. Under Robert Smithʼs direction, Peter will travel throughout the region, supervise ELCA missionaries, evaluate current programs and relationships, and maintain strong accompaniment with our companions.

Peter has served as a pastor for 10 years, most recently at Nokomis Heights Lutheran Church (Minneapolis , Minn.). He earned both the M.Div. and the MA in Islamic Studies through Luther Seminary (St. Paul , Minn.). Peter is married to Michelle, a business communications specialist; together, they have three children. A good portion of Peterʼs childhood was spent in Cairo.

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