Bishop Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the seventh largest religious body in the U.S. and the largest Lutheran denomination, will visit Arkansas November 4th, all Saints Sunday, preaching at the 8, 10, and 11:15 a.m. services at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 2925 Old Missouri Road, Fayetteville, AR, 72703. All are welcome to attend.
This is Mark Hanson's first visit to Arkansas. He comes at the invitation of the high school youth group at Good Shepherd, who in an informal lunch meeting with him eighteen months ago during their synod assembly and Lutheran Youth Organization meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, asked him if he would like to visit Northwest Arkansas. Bishop Hanson responded, "Send me a letter, and I will try to come."
There are currently five ELCA congregations in Northwest Arkansas. In addition to Good Shepherd, Peace Lutheran Church (Rogers), Christ the King (Bentonville), The Neighborhood Church (Bentonville), and United Lutheran (Bella Vista). These churches work cooperatively on many projects, including most recently a joint trip to the ELCA National Youth Gathering in New Orleans, LA, with 35,000 high school youth in attendance, and a fall project with Habitat for Humanity.
Bishop Hanson also visits Northwest Arkansas this month in recognition of the new mission starts currently under way through the synod and Good Shepherd. The Neighborhood Church in Bentonville is a new mission start of the ELCA within this past year. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church is currently in the process of calling a second pastor, titled a Pastor of New Communities, with the goal of establishing new faith communities in Fayetteville and Northwest Arkansas that reach new groups of people with the gospel of Christ.
Bishop Hanson, at a recent ELCA Conference of Bishops Gathering, said that ELCA congregations are committed to being in a process of "renewal that begins with worship," and to planting new congregations "in all kinds of new ways and new contexts," adding that the ELCA has 343 ministries now under development, with 30 percent of them among new immigrants, those who live in poverty, those who are homeless and others in rural areas and suburbs.
The ELCA is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a denomination in 2013, under the theme, "Always being made new." Bishop Hanson, said, ""We have the opportunity and responsibility to ask, what does it mean to be deeply rooted in Christ and always being made new as we live in communities of increasing religious pluralism?"
The ELCA is made up of over 10,000 individual congregations across the United States. Divided into 65 geographic synods, each headed by a synodical bishop, Bishop Mark Hanson is the Bishop of the ELCA Churchwide, whose offices are in Chicago, Illinois. Good Shepherd Lutheran is a member church of the Arkansas-Oklahoma synod.
Mark S. Hanson has served as presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 2001. He was elected to a second six-year term in 2007. From 2003 until 2010, he was president of The Lutheran World Federation. He has traveled widely throughout the world, sharing a confident hope in God's promises and a vision of the joyful freedom in Christian community and mission.