The following ELCA statements reflect JustChurch’s view on certain issues. You can click on the links below to download the full statement (in PDF).
The ELCA’s social statement entitled Abortion is grounded in the conviction that “Christians are united in Christ through faith with both the freedom and obligation to engage in serious moral deliberation.” (page 1) As ELCA social teaching it draws upon this community’s faith tradition that understands God’s life-giving purposes as pressing “beyond the usual ‘pro-life’ versus ‘pro-choice’ language.” (page 2) The social statement provides guidance for pastoral care and deliberation regarding unintended pregnancies as well as basic themes for reflecting on and discussing public policy issues. It was adopted by the 1991 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
The Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice social statement explains the ELCA’s teachings on ecology and the environment, grounded in a biblical vision of God’s intention for the healing and wholeness of creation. This statement provides a Christian understanding of the human role to serve in creation, and a hope rooted in God’s faithfulness to the creation from which humans emerge and depend upon for sustaining life. It provides a framework for understanding the human role in creation, the problem of sin and the current environmental crisis.
Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective articulates the teaching of the ELCA on the church’s relation to society and its public presence and responsibilities. The statement begins with the claim that the witness of the church in society flows from its identity as a community that lives from and for the gospel. It sets forth the basic affirmations that structure how faith is active in a love that calls for justice in relationships and structures of society. The statement also identifies as basic commitments the church’s institutional witness in society, the baptismal vocation of individual Christians, and the church as a community of moral deliberation. This documents was the first social statement, adopted by the ELCA in 1991.
The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries presents a comprehensive perspective on matters related to the U.S. criminal justice system and the many communities affected by this system. The statement affirms the principles of the U.S. criminal justice system but also reveals the desperate cries that reflect the system’s serious deficiencies. It recognizes that many people in the system serve their professional vocations with competent and humane performance. Yet it also recognizes that current approaches, such as the emphasis on mass incarceration, impose significant costs on all involved in the system and on society as a whole. These approaches are founded on an underlying punitive mindset and persistent inequalities based on race and class.
Drawing from the biblical witness to God’s rich forms of love and justice for all people, the ELCA is compelled by a holy yearning to address the need for changing public attitudes and postures, and to call for dramatic reforms in policies and practices in the criminal justice system. This statement was adopted by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
The Death Penalty stands in the Lutheran tradition recognizing that God entrusts the state with the power to take human life when failure to do so constitutes a clear danger to the common good. Never-the-less, it expresses ELCA opposition to the use of the death penalty, one that grows out of ministry with and to people affected by violent crime.
The statement acknowledges the existence of different points of view within the church and society on this question and the need for continued deliberation, but it objects to the use of the death penalty because it is not used fairly and has failed to make society safer. The practice of using the death penalty in contemporary society undermines any possible alternate moral message since the primary message conveyed by an execution is one of brutality and violence. This social statement was adopted by the 1991 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All conveys ELCA teaching that economic activity is a means through which God’s will is served for the thriving and well-being of humankind and the care of the earth. It recognizes that even though sin distorts human activity, we are called to practice economic activity justly and with special concern for those who live in poverty.
In this work, the church is guided by the biblically grounded imperative to seek sufficient, sustainable livelihood for all. This means recognizing the loving scope of God’s concern (for all), the means by which life is sustained (livelihood), what is needed (sufficiency) and entails a long-term perspective (sustainability). The statement recognizes that these criteria may be in tension with one another, but together they provide a sound framework for discernment and action. Toward that purpose, the statement discusses commerce, law, vocation, public policy, work, human dignity, agriculture, business and efforts to empower those who live in poverty. This statement was adopted by the 1999 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
Our Calling in Education is centered by the belief that God calls us to educate people in the Christian faith for their vocation and to seek with others to ensure that all have access to high-quality education. We are to seek access for all as service to the common good that makes possible development of personal gifts and abilities. This calling is rooted in a Lutheran heritage that values education for all people in both church and society.
The statement discusses particular responsibilities among people of faith that range from increased attention to faith formation in congregational life to public advocacy for equitable, sufficient and effective funding of public schools. It lifts up – among other concerns – renewed attention to the quality of ELCA colleges, universities and seminaries, the vital role of campus ministries, and the importance of corporate and non-profit support for institutions and for students who need opportunities for education. This social statement was adopted by the 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
Genetics, Faith and Responsibility addresses our church’s teaching to the human power increasingly unleashed today in genetic research and its applications, with all its questions and complexities. In light of God’s sustained and creative work in creation, the statement recognizes these developments as carrying both promise for abundant good and potential for immeasurable harm.
The statement highlights the biblical view of human beings as innovative stewards who are called to be responsible to the Golden Rule. It translates the Golden Rule in the contemporary context of unprecedented human power as “Respect and promote the community of life with justice and wisdom.” (15) This imperative should be used to direct all activity and use of genetic research and knowledge in medicine, agriculture and other arenas of life. The statement provides guidance for discerning what justice and wisdom mean and points to practices that respect human dignity and encourage Christian community in this age of genetic knowledge. This social statement was adopted by the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
Caring for Health: Our Shared Endeavor expresses ELCA teaching on health and the health care system. Its vision of health as a shared endeavor rests in a biblical view that wholeness is a blessing God intends for all people. In this vision, a ministry of healing is integral to the life and mission of the Church. This shared endeavor means each person bears some responsibility for his or her own health, but health and health care also depend upon other people and conditions in society and our communities.
Guided by this vision, the statement addresses the health care system and its primary areas, from congregations to medical research. It describes broad commitments to guide discernment and work toward change in a political, economic and cultural environment that often is more adversarial than cooperative. This social statement was adopted in by the 2003 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust expresses ELCA teaching on human sexuality. The statement is grounded in the biblical witness to the relationship God establishes with creation as a model for relationships between human beings. God is absolutely trustworthy and faithful, and, therefore, with regard to sexuality, both human behavior and social structures are considered in relation to how they foster trust, commitment and protection for the flourishing and well-being of all people. In light of human sexuality as a gift and a trust, the statement considers the ways social structures and institutions shelter, sustain and protect personal, family and social relationships of love and trustworthiness.
The statement provides guidance on key matters, such as marriage, family, same-gender relationships, protection of children and youth, sexuality and the self, sexual intimacy and cohabitation. It addresses issues of sexuality in the public square, the work place and within the church. This social statement was adopted by the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
For Peace in God’s World conveys ELCA teaching on matters related to war, domestic and international security, and the Christian call to be peacemakers. The statement is grounded in the scriptural understanding that God desires shalom (the Hebrew word for complete well-being) for all human beings but that such eternal peace is fragile and imperfect within even the best earthly peace human beings may achieve. Because of the sin-filled reality of earthly life, this statement affirms just war teaching in the service of just peace, with attention to what this means for culture, economics, politics, military conduct and international security.
The statement also recognizes the significant witness of conscientious objectors and others who, as a matter of faith, cannot condone war in any circumstances. It calls all disciples to be advocates for Christian peacemaking, one that strives for political alternatives to war, human rights, social justice, control of the arms trade and all means of working for peace in God’s world. This social statement was adopted by the 1995 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture expresses the ELCA’s calling to celebrate culture and ethnicity. This calling commits the ELCA to confront racism, to engage in public leadership, witness and deliberation on these matters, and to advocate for justice and fairness for all people. The statement is grounded in the conviction that the church has been gathered together in the joyful freedom of the reign of God as announced by and embodied in Jesus. That reign has not come in its fullness, but the message of God’s yes to the world breaks down all dividing walls as we live into that promise.
In daily life, cultural, ethnic and racial differences matter, but they can be seen and celebrated as what God intends them to be – blessings rather than means of oppression and discrimination. We are a church that belongs to Christ, where there is a place for everyone. Christ’s church is not ours to control, nor is it our job to sort, divide, categorize or exclude. This statement was adopted by the 1993 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.