Introduction to the August Issue

[1] This issue of JLE focuses on human genetics. The articles were first presented to the 2009 Annual Gathering of Lutheran Ethicists held last January at the Cenacle Retreat and Conference Center in Chicago.

[2] The topic was chosen because of the ongoing work of the ELCA Task Force on Genetics which is charged with bringing a draft of a social statement on genetics to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 2011. Although the work of the task force carries the wide scope of both human and non-human genetics—and this will address genetically modified organisms—the focus of the ethicists’ papers last January and in this issue is on human genetics. It is a broad and a complex topic in its own right, as reading the articles will readily make clear.

[3] Appropriately, the 2009 Annual Gathering of Lutheran Ethicists included consideration of the theological and ethical framework put forward by the task force in its recently published study, Genetics and Faith: Power, Choice, and Responsibility. A link to that study is provided in this issue. Reading the two sessions which the participants read for the meeting will help make sense of some of the comments of Maura A. Ryan, who served as Respondent to the papers presented at the gathering.

[4] This issue also includes “Human Genetics: Threads from a Conversation.” This piece summarizes some key themes and issues raised during the informal discussion at the gathering of the articles presented in this issue. We hope readers will find this summary helpful and illuminating.

Ronald W. Duty

Ronald W. Duty is the former Assistant Director for Studies in Church in Society at the ELCA, and is now a private scholar.