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LAMPa Schedules Virtual ELCA Social Message Hearing

May 18, 2020

What is a faithful Lutheran response regarding civic engagement?

Although at this time showing love of neighbor means we can’t gather as we long to do for our annual Lutheran Day in the Capitol, we invite Pennsylvania ELCA Lutherans to gather virtually on May 18 to hear from our keynote, the Rev. Dr. Roger Willer, and shape our denomination’s newest social message

Learn more and register here.

The ELCA is gifted with a body of social teaching in the form of social statements and messages. Right now, we have a timely opportunity to expand our understanding of this teaching. Following action taken by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly, a Draft Social Message on “Government and Civic Engagement: Discipleship in a Democracy,” was developed. Throughout the month of May, you and your ministry are invited to read, discern and respond to this draft.

Social messages of the ELCA are topical documents adopted by the ELCA Church Council to focus attention and action on timely, pressing matters of social concern to the church and society. They are used to address pressing contemporary concerns in light of the prophetic and compassionate traditions of Scripture and do not establish new teaching or policy. Rather, they build upon previously adopted teaching and policy positions, especially from social statements.

ELCA social statements are teaching and policy documents that provide broad frameworks to assist us in thinking about and discussing social issues in the context of faith and life. They are meant to help communities and individuals with moral formation, discernment and thoughtful engagement with current social issues as we participate in God’s work in the world. Social statements also set policy for the ELCA and guide its advocacy and work as a publicly engaged church. They result from an extensive process of participation and deliberation and are adopted by a two-thirds vote of an ELCA churchwide assembly.

Willer, the ELCA Director for Theological Ethics, extends this invitation to learn more about this social message:

The idea of government was already very much in focus because this was an election year, and the pandemic has focused it more so. But what does the ELCA teach about the nature and function of government in relation to God’s purposes? What is a faithful Lutheran response regarding citizenship and civic engagement?

To help guide our church on these questions, the 2019 Churchwide Assembly asked for the preparation of a social message. At this time, the message is in draft form. Through May 27, you are invited to provide feedback on how to strengthen the message.

I invite you to click here to read “A Draft Social Message on Government and Civic Engagement: Discipleship in a Democracy.” To offer feedback, please fill out the survey. You may also choose to email comments to draftsocialmessage@elca.org. The comment period ends May 27. To learn more about what social messages are, click www.elca.org/socialmessages.Government and Civic Engagement

Consider a few ideas for engaging this social teaching:

1. Include the invitation to study and respond to the draft statement in your ministry’s electronic communications.
2. Share the invitation on your social media platforms.
3. Encourage your congregation’s advocacy or social ministry team to participate.
4. Ask members of your congregation active in faith formation or social ministry to host a Zoom forum for reflection and discussion.
5. Encourage all ELCA Lutherans to share their feedback through the survey link and/or by e-mailing their comments.
6. Encourage disciples in your congregation to connect with LAMPa to join in faithful civic engagement accompanied by Lutherans across Pennsylvania.
7. If you haven’t yet done so, complete the Pennsylvania survey of ministry in response to COVID-19 to shape our advocacy for a healthy and just Commonwealth. The survey remains open to allow for thorough and thoughtful responses.

Now is a vital time for all of us to consider how we as Lutherans respond faithfully to our responsibilities as citizens and our call to civic engagement.