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Gather, the magazine of Women of the ELCA, offers a mix of articles, theological reflections, devotions and stories of comfort and challenge that help readers grow in faith and engage in ministry and action.

May 2024 Devotional on Mental Health and Wellness by Elise Seyfried

As long as humans have existed, there has been mental illness. By some estimates, as many as 20% of all adults live with a mental health issue. In biblical times, mental illness was often misunderstood and thought to be caused by demonic possession. In modern times, we have learned much more about brain chemistry. Although the stigma around mental illnesses has decreased, we still have a long way to go, and our faith communities can help. Looking particularly at biblical people and passages that relate to living with mental illness, the May 2024 devotional reminds us of Jesus’ compassionate care for those who struggle. Together, we’ll learn how congregations can become “stigma-free” zones, welcome and support those with mental health issues and their loved ones and provide opportunities for all ages to learn more about a topic that affects us all.

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“We have felt the power of your prayer” Gather Bible study leader continues work in Jerusalem

Following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel and the Israeli siege of Gaza, many Gather readers contacted Women of the ELCA churchwide staff to ask about the safety of Gather Bible study author the Rev. Dr. Meghan Johnston Aelabouni and her family. Many of the inquiries came after the ELCA’s difficult decision to evacuate the ELCA Young Adult in Global Mission (YAGM) volunteers serving in the West Bank and country coordinators ELCA pastors Adam and Jordan Miller-Stubbendick, with their young children.

Johnston Aelabouni reported: “We are safe in Jerusalem and continue our work [accompanying the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) and other partners], which is now more important than ever.” Johnston Aelabouni serves as ELCA Theologian in Residence for the Middle East and North Africa desk. She and her spouse, the Rev. Gabi Aelabouni, Area Desk Director for the Middle East and North Africa, have three children.

“Participants in Women of the ELCA grow fond of authors they read, and so it’s no surprise that many have contacted the churchwide offices to ask about the wellbeing of the author of the current Bible study published in Gather, the Rev. Dr. Meghan Johnston Aelabouni, and her family,” said Linda Post Bushkofsky, executive director, Women of the ELCA.

“Even before the recent violence between Hamas and Israel, many participants have been praying for the Aelabouni family,” Post Bushkofsky said. “Now those prayers have expanded—both in number and breadth—prayers of peace and wellbeing for all who live in the Middle East, prayers of peace and justice throughout the world. In the words of our Purpose Statement, participants are actively promoting healing and wholeness in the church, the society and the world.”

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