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American Lutheran bishops heading to Mideast

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- More than 30 bishops from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are heading for the Mideast despite the fighting in Gaza.

The Rev. Jon Anderson, bishop for the Southwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA, will be one of five from Minnesota leaving Monday. He says their leaders believe they will be safe. And he says that in times of trouble, pastors go to be with people in trouble.

Church leaders say the goal is to support the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, which has congregations and schools in Israel, Jordan and the West Bank. The bishops also hope to meet Jewish and Islamic leaders to get a better understanding of the conflict in the region.

About 20 of the 34 bishops are already overseas and they're encouraging remaining bishops to make the trip. The trip has been in the works for a couple years.

The bishops plan to return to the United States on Jan. 16.