“This church shall develop social statements … that will guide the life of this church as an institution and inform the conscience of its members in the spirit of Christian liberty.” (ELCA social statement, “The Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective.”)
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, deliberation 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 publically 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.
The description and procedures for developing and adopting social teaching and policy documents are established by “Policies and Procedures of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for Addressing Social Concerns,” adopted by the 1997 ELCA Churchwide Assembly and revised periodically by the ELCA Church Council.
ELCA Social Statements:
Abortion / Aborto (1991)
Church in Society / Iglesia en la Sociedad (1991)
Criminal Justice / La Iglesia y la justicia penal (2013)
Death Penalty / Pena de Muerte (1991)
Economic Life / Vida Economica (1999)
Education / Educación (2007)
Caring for Creation / Medio ambiente (1993)
Health and Healthcare / Salud y Asistencia Sanitaria (2003)
Human Sexuality / La Sexualidad Humana (2009)
Peace / Por la Paz (1995)
Race, Ethnicity and Culture / Raza, Etnicidad y Cultura (1993)
Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action (2019)
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.
These messages draw attention to specific topics or social concerns that arise from our participation in God’s work in the world, and they encourage moral discernment, thoughtful discussion and action. Each message is reviewed by the Conference of Bishops and adopted by the ELCA Church Council, and expresses the convictions of the leadership of this church.
At this time, there are twelve social messages. All can be accessed on the ELCA website:
• AIDS / El SIDA (1988)
• Commercial Sexual Exploitation / Explotaćion Sexual (2001)
• Community Violence / Violencia Comunidad (1994)
• End of Life Decisions / Final de la Vida (1992)
• Homelessness / Gente sin Vivienda (1990)
• Immigration / Inmigración (1998)
• Israeli/Palestinian Conflict (1989)
• Mental Illness (2012)
• People Living with Disabilities / Personas Discapacidades (2010)
• Sexuality: Common Convictions / La Sexualidad (1996)
• Suicide Prevention / Suicido (1999)