An ELCA task force charged with addressing how this church responds to social concerns met for the first time in January. According to the Rev. Kathryn A. Kleinhans, the scope of task force’s work is much bigger than reviewing the process for developing ELCA social statements and messages.
“Lutherans have a long history of responding to social concerns, both with our hands and with our voices,” said Kleinhans, who serves as task force chair. “I’m excited about the opportunity we’ve been given to think creatively and passionately about how this church will continue to live out its calling.”
According to Kleinhans, Lutherans have had a commitment to addressing social concerns since the Reformation.
It “is a good time for us to examine what we have been doing in the ELCA and consider how we want to continue for the future — how we live our mission forward,” she said.
Currently, social statements are developed through years of study, conversation and discernment and are resources to assist Lutherans in their moral deliberation and govern ELCA institutional policies and guide advocacy work.
The development of social statements and messages are only one way of approaching social concerns.
“We also address social concerns through education and encouraging ELCA members to live out their own vocation in society,” she said.
The 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted “Genetics, Faith and Responsibility,” the ELCA’s 11th social statement. In a separate action, the assembly authorized the establishment of a review process of current procedures for the development and adoption of social statements.
No new proposed social statements will be considered until completion of the review. According to the 2011 Churchwide Assembly action, the development of a social statement on criminal justice and a separate statement focusing on justice for women may continue without alteration.
Task force members were appointed in December 2011. It is anticipated that the task force will bring a report to the ELCA Church Council in November 2012.
Members of the task force are:
+ Per Anderson, Moorhead, Minn.
+ Paul G. Archer, Dearborn, Mich.
+ Linda Bobbitt, Thornton, Colo.
+ the Rev. Wm. Chris Boerger, Everett, Wash.
+ Rebecca J. Brakke, Dallas
+ Sylvia Bull, Princeton, N.J.
+ the Rev. Margaret E. Herz-Lane, Baltimore
+ the Rev. Kathryn A. Kleinhans, Waverly, Iowa
+ Christopher Meade, Geneva, Ill.
+ Arthur Norman, Valdosta, Ga.
+ the Rev. Fred S. Opalinski, Reading, Pa.
+ Rose Stephens-Booker, Arlington, Va.
+ Suzanne G. Wise, Siler City, N.C.
+ the Rev. David B. Zellmer, Sioux Falls, S.D.