February/March 2023: For Congregational Discussion

[1] Celcy Powers King essay ends with the following call to action:

“If the focus of any church is compassion for those in need, then I believe its members can implement practices that help them grow and connect to their local communities. One way to achieve this is to open up dialogue to those outside of the church as well as to people who practice different faiths. By doing so, church leaders can help foster an environment for people to learn together. I believe that congregations who are committed to self reflection and addressing how its members can habitually engage knowledge and research into the way it combats social justice issues, better serve the community and those in need.”

[2] Many congregations in the ELCA are beginning to host discussion sessions on key social issues, including ones like Abortion, for which we have a social statement.

[3] Consider using the social statement in an adult education series to generate open conversation using dialogic method.

  1. Start by asking each member of the group to share an experience that has led them to their position regarding abortion.
  2. Waiting until after each person has shared, ask each member to share two key values that they hold that they found echoed in the social statement on abortion or two key values that they hold that they did not find echoed in the social statement.
  3. Waiting until after each person has shared, (or passed), open the conversation to questions that have been raised and invites people to talk together more freely.

[4] Such open conversation that does not have a fixed goal other than the sharing of experiences and values can be helpful in helping us build communities of compassion, the foundation for social justice.



Jennifer Hockenbery

Jennifer Hockenbery serves as Editor of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics .  She is Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Humanities at St Norbert College. She attends Grace Lutheran Church in Green Bay, WI.