ELCA Social Teachings

A Response to the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality

“We are not what we know, but what we are willing to learn” -M.C. Bateson In the last years of study in the ELCA, we have learned that: Even as we confess one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, we hold different points of view about human sexuality; especially our church’s willingness to bless same-sex […]

JLE Portfolio: On the Release of the Report and Recommendations of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality

[1] News reports of the report and recommendations of the task force for the ELCA Studies on Sexuality displayed various headlines. “No change” was followed by “Gays Win,” “Tolerate” and “Be Flexible” as news outlets tried to characterize the recommendations. Those unfamiliar with the history of the issue in the ELCA, the present regulations, Lutheran […]

No Red Synods/ Blue Synods in the ELCA: Attempting to Hold the Middle Ground

[1] When I have spoken publicly on these issues in recent years, I have said that if decisions concerning blessing same-sex unions and rostering persons in such unions split the church (in either direction), it will not be because of the issues themselves but because we have failed to understand and to live out what […]

Sex and “Church”

[1] We now know the recommendations of the task force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality: Retain “Vision and Expectations,” but enforce it using “pastoral discretion.” This presents a problem: What criteria should we use to adjudicate enforcement? It would be decidedly un-Lutheran (“enthusiastic”) to locate such discretion in the immediate activity of the Holy Spirit. […]

A Call for Our Best Thinking

This article was excerpted from a pastoral letter from the bishop to the Northeastern Iowa Synod. [1] The participation I have seen in the conversation on the “Journey Together Faithfully” materials has been quite inspiring. As enriching as the conversation has been, however, I am not convinced that we have yet done our very best […]

A Call to Action: Health as a Shared Endeavor

[1] This social statement begins the public conversation within the ELCA on health and health care. If we take this statement seriously, we will be agents of change. The impact of this statement depends on the action of individual members, congregations, and institutions of the church toward improving health within their spheres of influence. This […]

Journeying Together and Faithfully?

[1] An evaluation of “Journey Together Faithfully: The Church and Homosexuality” (ELCA Studies on Sexuality, Part II) must answer these questions: 1) Does the document fairly and accurately represent the relevant positions? 2) Does it help people clarify their own views? 3) Is the document substantial enough to guide the process of ELCA deliberation on […]

On Seeing the Connections: Reflections on the Tenth Anniversary of Caring for Creation

[1] In this year of 2003 the synodical assemblies of the ELCA, the assembly of the Lutheran World Federation, and the Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA have all lifted up the common theme: “Making Christ Known for the Healing of the World.” In all these venues one heard eloquent testimony to the hurts of a […]

Reflections on “Caring for Creation”

[1] Ten years have flown by; it was such a great experience to be part of the task force. I think often of the people I met. I keep in touch with Lisa Lundgren. [2] Living in South Central Nebraska farming is my main concern. Farmers are going to minimum tillage (preventing the erosion of […]

Reflections on the Environmental Task Force (1991-93), The Caring for Creation Statement, and Subsequent Events

[1] As 16 invited individuals gathered in Chicago in autumn of 1989, it soon became apparent that this group of Lutherans was very special. Several members of the Department for Studies selected members of the task force for the Division for Church in Society based on prior knowledge of potential candidates, telephone interviews, and recommendations […]