The ELCA and Social Justice


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The ELCA and Social Justice

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The ELCA and Social Justice

  1. 1. Winter A • 2010-2011 The ELCA and Social Justice The meek, those who grieve, those disenfranchised by The ELCA believes that God works through individuals war, the poor in spirit…these are the faces of the people and communities to help the move toward peace. the ELCA sees when it defines social justice. Social justice Individuals might not agree on how to move toward applies to single people and to entire nations. Social peace. The tension of looking for answers in a diverse justice in the ELCA is not checked off a “to do” list, it is world is a challenge. The ELCA affirms diversity found an attitude and a perspective. in scripture and in the world. This diversity calls us to be one in Jesus Christ as we move toward a just world free The ELCA is a young church. Beginning in 1988 by the from war. combination of three previous Lutheran denominations, the ELCA is a young adult trying to clarify values. The For examples of ELCA peacemaking efforts, check these denomination does this through writing and implement- Websites: ing social statements. These social statements go through Not-Walls.aspx and editing and conversations in local congregations. Add several layers of approval by Churchwide Assemblies so Blessed are those who mourn… that when completed, the Social Statements become the The challenges of today’s culture include grief that cannot best representation of the denomination as a whole. be measured. People are grieving loss of employment, loss of homes through foreclosure and natural disaster, loss of Not surprisingly, one of the first social statements the predictable retirement, loss of health insurance and loss ELCA approved in 1995 was called Peace in God’s World. of hope. The ELCA partners with those who mourn the Later in 1999, the ELCA passed a social statement on loss of access to basic needs as well as those going through Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All. (Social statements life transitions. The ELCA meets those who need daily in are available online at the areas of health, food, clothing and employment. cial-Issues.aspx). These two statements cover many of the social justice issues and how the denomination relates to For example, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Lincoln the world. However, real social justice within the ELCA Nebraska has a program called “The Table”. The goal does not happen because of social statements but because is be sure that healthy lunches are not dependent on of congregational leaders who begin with a dream of economics. Tables are pulled together and soup and bread making the world a more just place. are served. Payment is “as you can”. Blessed are the peacemakers… Being present in the diversity of those who “need” is The ELCA believes that to begin any talk about justice representative of the ELCA approach to social justice and and peace earthly peace needs definition. Earthly peace daily living. This social justice program allows the dignity is defined by the ELCA to be “relationships among and of the individual to remain intact as they self-define their within nations that are just, harmonious, and free from need in a non-judging atmosphere of love and care. war.” By including both “just relationships” and “free Here are some examples of other congregational from war” in the definition of earthly peace, the ELCA ministries that exist to help those who mourn the lost of expands the realm of peace. Peace is not the absence of economic independence. war but a way of life that includes justice for all. Grace Lutheran in Conroe, TX helped begin Family The ELCA believes that through scriptural examples Promise of Montgomery County in 2001 to serve (e.g., Ephesians 6:15, Galatians 5:22, Luke 2:14) space is homeless families in the area of Montgomery County, created within relationships, communities, nations and Texas, by uniting faith communities in a cooperative the world that enables peace to take place. The ELCA effort to provide shelter, meals, and compassionate moves towards the goal of a just and harmonious world assistance (see free from war. SR-00-WA-10-L-The ELCA and Social Justice©2010 by Morehouse Education Resources • All rights reserved • • 1-800-242-1918
  2. 2. Winter A • 2010-2011 The ELCA and Social Justice Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Austin, TX Summary serves with others in the Austin Employment Group to The ELCA works with social justice at multiple levels. provide career management services, job seeking training, Passionate ELCA congregational members work and opportunities for networking and support with the day-to-day to help people stand in dignity against goal for individuals to obtain meaningful employment unjust systems. There are confirmation students and (see elders in every church who deliver meals, sort donated Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Egan, MN, turned clothing, visit the sick and collect food for those in need. over their parsonage to become The Eagan Resource Congregations continually look for ways to partner in Center, the largest food shelf in Dakota County, a communities to serve greater numbers. nonprofit organization committed to serving those in The national leadership moves ahead with the hard work need and eliminating hunger in Dakota County (see of fashioning statements that represent the ELCA. These beliefs summarize the scriptural, doctrinal and daily living pieces of social justice. This two-fold approach to social justice allows the ELCA to live moment-to-mo- ment in the tension on the faces of those in need, while proclaiming to all their message: God’s work, Our hands. “Together, we are the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In congregations small and large, urban and rural, we are a church that is centered in Christ and alive in the Spirit. Gathered around Word and Sacrament, we receive God’s grace, confess our sins, and are sent to spread the Good News, to remember the poor, to serve the Lord, for Christ is with us. God has entrusted this work to our hands. What a mandate for mission! It is God’s work. Our hands.” ––The Rev. Mark S. Hanson Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America “God’s Workl. Our Hands” 2008 2©2010 by Morehouse Education Resources • All rights reserved • • 1-800-242-1918