Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) "is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands."[1]

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the result of a merger of three Lutheran churches formed in 1988. They were The American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches and the Lutheran Church in America.[2]

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is "committed to diverse and interdependent leadership across its three expressions — in nearly 10,000 congregations, 65 synods and the churchwide organization." The leaders "in these expressions work together, with guidance from the Churchwide Assembly, Church Council, Conference of Bishops."[3]

"Through its partnership with LCMS World Relief and Human Care, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is a cooperative agency of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America."[4]

Supported Soviet-Backed Group in Namibia

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is aligned with the Lutheran Office for World Community, which supported the Soviet-backed[5] South West African Peoples Organization (SWAPO) in Namibia. Imposing SWAPO rule on Namibia was a "major policy goal."[6],[7],[8]

In 1989, Ralston Deffenbaugh Jr. "acted as legal advisor to the Namibian Lutheran Bishops in Windhoek, advising the bishops and the Council of Churches in Namibia on relations between the United Nations and the South Africans, and on how the independence plan was being implemented. He also served as an informal consultant to members of the committee drafting Namibia's constitution."[9]

"Since 1973, Lutheran Office for World Community has participated in a variety of historic issues. The independence of Namibia was a major policy goal at a time when few others advocated for the people in that country. Among the other issues that Lutheran Office for World Community monitored and brought to the attention of the churches was the international campaign to ban landmines, the effort to create the International Criminal Court, the development and implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the negotiations concerning the Post-2015 Development Agenda.[10]

United Nations and the Lutheran Church

"The Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC) was formed in 1973 in response to the principles embodied in the UN Charter. Lutheran activity in international advocacy at the UN, however, can be traced to the world organization’s early days when Lutheran seminary professor Otto Frederick Nolde was a leader in the development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular its article on freedom of religion and belief. The Lutheran World Federation has been in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since 1952 and also is associated with and the Department of Public Information (DPI).

Anti-Israel Advocacy

From their website:[11]

"Advocacy: We invite you to join our advocacy efforts to bring about a just and lasting negotiated resolution to the Palestinian Israeli conflict.
  • Call for equal human dignity and rights for all people in the Holy Land.
  • Call for an end to Israeli settlement building and the occupation of Palestinian land, both of which violate international law;
  • Call for a two-state solution, with two viable, secure states living side-by-side.
  • Ask individuals to invest in Palestinian products to build their economy and to utilize selective purchasing to avoid buying products made in illegal Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land.
  • Call for an examination of U.S. military aid to Israel to ensure compliance with U.S. and international human rights law and a possible withholding of aid for noncompliance with those laws.
"The ELCA is working for justice and peace in Palestine and Israel through our campaign, Peace Not Walls. Through accompaniment, advocacy and awareness-raising, Peace Not Walls connects ELCA members to our companions and promotes dignity, full respect for human rights, healing and reconciliation. With our Palestinian Lutheran companions, we also accompany Palestinians and Israelis, Jews, Christians and Muslims working together for peace with justice."
"Through its Peace Not Walls campaign, the ELCA supports a viable, contiguous Palestinian state; a secure Israeli state at peace with its Arab neighbors; and a shared Jerusalem with equal access and rights for Jews, Muslims and Christians."

Racial Justice Ministries

From their website:[12]

"We are called to be a church that embraces each person and confronts racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, age, gender, familial, sexual orientation, physical, personal and class barriers that often manifest themselves in unjust treatment, inequalities, exclusion and violence.
"The Racial Justice Ministries of the ELCA serve as catalysts and bridge builders committed to the work of:
"Equipping leaders to recognize and understand the complexity and implications of racism and racial issues.
"Training and education in the areas of anti-racism and racial justice for leaders in partnership with synods, congregations, associations and social service agencies.
"Building alliances and strategies across race, ethnicity, class, gender, age and sexual orientation to break through barriers of racism and oppression.
"Creating and supporting ecumenical networks that call for and help equip the church to be a multiracial and multicultural community.
"Working together throughout the church in public witness, programs and policies that advance racial justice — locally and globally.
"Developing and sharing educational tools and training models for congregations to use in facing the challenges of racism in a diverse, complex and changing world.
"When we confront racism and move toward fairness and justice in the church and society, we all benefit. We begin to understand that each of us has a unique story, and we are all part of a larger, rich story that makes up the ELCA.
"The ELCA Social Statement, "Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity and Culture," offers theological reflection on the church’s commitment to undo racism and move toward reconciliation, healing and embracing all people.

Voter Registration

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has an initiative called "ELCAVotes." From their website: "We are called to act by speaking out as advocates and engaging in local efforts to guarantee the right to vote to all citizens."[13]

"Expand the role of the church in encouraging faithful and non-partisan voter participation by providing faith based resources around voting;
"Provide a framework for all Lutherans to understand and speak out about the intersection of voting/elections, racial/gender and economic justice;
"Provide young adults the tools to understand and speak about what it means to be a young person of faith who is civically engaged; and
"Engage with and equip ethnic communities to talk about voting rights and race and their connection with elections today.
"[It is] resolved, that members, congregations, and synods of this church be encouraged to “promote public life worthy of the name” by speaking out as an advocate and engaging in local efforts such as voter registration and supporting legislation to guarantee the right to vote to all citizens...
"Social Policy Resolution “Voting Rights to All Citizens” adopted Aug. 2013

Congregation-based Community Organizing

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America website blames problems within the church on "individualism" and a free market economy.[14]

"Congregations involved in community-based organizing have discovered the power of the values and visions they hold in common and are working to transform themselves, their institutions and their communities for the sake of God’s justice in the world.

[...]

"Many ELCA congregations today find themselves challenged with decreasing membership and dwindling budgets, confronting a culture of individualism, and tending to the effects of a consumer-driven, market economy."
"ELCA congregations involved in this work employ the principles and tools of community organizing, combined with a commitment to the prophetic traditions of Scripture. Using these tools and traditions builds vitality in congregations and puts faith values into action in neighborhoods, communities and the broader world. At the heart of organizing are leadership development and empowerment, along with an emphasis on relationship-building and a fostering of the "Beloved Community" that Martin Luther King Jr. advocated. Interfaith collaboration is also a characteristic of the movement, as is working together with other institutions and organizations to build more equitable access, influence and effectiveness."

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

According to their website, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service partners with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, along with "Lutheran congregations and Lutheran social ministry organizations" to bring "more than 379,000 refugees to the United States since 1939."[15]

Leaders

Denouncing President Trump

Minnesota Bishops from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America signed a letter[16] on January 28, 2018 repudiating President Donald Trump and advocating for a solution to the "global refugee crisis," as well as "truly comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform."

Excerpt:

"We rebuke our nation's president for the vile, bigoted language he reportedly used on Jan. 11 to describe certain countries in God's beloved world.
"This episode far transcends the "politics" of the moment. It speaks to the very soul of our nation and touches upon some of our dearest American values: deep respect, loving care and welcoming hospitality toward others — especially the marginalized. We are not just grieved by the unfortunate language that was used. More troubling to us is the president's assumption that our country should only care about and receive the gifted and successful of the world — along with the presumption that he knows which countries provide such. Our disagreement with the president arises from both our faith and our personal experiences with neighbors from around the globe.
"We bishops call upon all Minnesotans to join us in repudiating racism and all other forms of bigotry. We implore all 10 members of our state's U. S. Congressional delegation to ask the president to apologize for his unfortunate remarks, to engage with international partners in seriously addressing the global refugee crisis, and to work in bipartisan fashion toward truly comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform in our own country."

Signatories

External links

References