"What DOES the ELCA say about that?"
Hot topics. The world is full of them.
I'm not talking about Packers vs. Bears, or par-boiling your brats or not, I'm talking about the topics people don't like to talk about. The ones that have big feelings and opinions attached to them. The ones that people tie close to their identity. You know, the ones we avoid bringing up at family gatherings, and if someone does do it, things get tense and people avoid eye contact.
For many people, THESE hot topics are things that are off limits for conversation--people believe what they believe and they don't like to talk about it for fear of causing conflict or discord. You know, topics like, abortion, or human sexuality, or racism, or the death penalty. THOSE topics.
Growing up as a person of faith in the USA, I heard a great number of things about these topics as I came of age. I remember being in conversation with multiple sources, like people with those lived experiences, scripture, founding documents of the US, and God as I tried to make up my mind on those things. Truth be told, I STILL consult with those sources continually as I shape and form the way I think and interact with the world.
For some people, their stance on hot button issues is heavily impacted by their religion. What does their denomination believe? What are the church leaders in their congregations preaching? Perhaps, with the recent overturning of Roe vs. Wade, you are wondering about what the ELCA has to say.
So...let me introduce you to: ELCA Social Statements.
Social Statements are basically position papers produced by the ELCA that share the "stance," if you will, of the ELCA. These statements take YEARS to produce. Teams of people from across the country are put together to research, interview, and compose these statements. Teams always include theologians, experts in the field of the topic of the paper, and the Holy Spirit. Each statement is written with dutiful attention to scripture, prayer, and consideration of the people most affected by the topic at hand. Throughout the writing process, the teams put out snippets of the work, and request edits from clergy and lay people of the ELCA, they host discussion times for people to talk about statement while it's still in the works, THEN... the churchwide assembly has to vote on the document before it is adopted. It's QUITE the process...and for good reason.
Okay-- I've made the case for social statements, now what?
Well...I commend them to you for your reading and exploration. These statements aren't meant to be secrets. They are real, living documents that affect real, living people. So, if you find yourself in a place where you are questioning and looking for insight on different topics, I invite you to peruse the social statement library linked below. In that library, you can choose to read just the summary documents, or the entire statements. Later this year in fact, as a congregation we will be visiting and studying the social statement on human sexuality.
If you read a social statement and have questions, PLEASE feel free to connect with Pastor Nate or Me. These are serious topics that require serious discernment from all of us, and that discernment is best done in the company of others...and we'd be happy give you some company on the way.
Peace be the journey,