Bishops' Statement of SolidaritySolidarity

March 9, 2018

Dear Oregon Synod Christian Disciples,

"The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in solidarity with our children and youth, and in response to our common baptismal vocation . . . offers our support, partnership and prayers for the March for Our Lives, its satellite city events, and our children and youth who are leading us forward as peacemakers." 
This past week the ELCA Conference of Bishops met in Chicago for our bi-annual, week-long, conference. Only once in my ten years with the Conference have I seen us publish a common letter of concern and council for the Church. Now there is a second.

I ask that you take a moment to read your bishops' Statement in Solidarity with our Children and Youth. It makes clear reference to our commitments as Lutheran Christians to pray and act for a non-violence. It roots this call in our baptism, Social Messages of the Church now more than 20 years old, common sense, and the teachings of Jesus. Our country faces a real crisis. Our Youth are asking for our help. Your church is responding.

Specifically, this letter "offers our support, partnership and prayers for the March for Our Lives, its satellite city events, and our children and youth who are leading us forward as peacemakers." I applaud and support this commitment. I myself will be putting on my clergy collar and bishop's cross, and will march in the Portland event in two weeks. Other countries have mentally ill individuals. Other countries have video games. Other countries have any number of social stresses and conflict. However, no other country, with reasonable gun control laws, experiences the mass shootings we do in the U.S. Our Youth are calling us to honest assessment and action around this ongoing reality and crisis. 

Two brief notes. 1) A few of you have noticed that my name is not on this statement. First of all, thank you for being ahead of the curve in reading the statement - and for noticing! For the first time in 10 years I was not at this Conference of Bishops' meeting, so my signature was not added without my personal consent. That has been addressed and I am now listed as a signatory. 2) Are you being encouraged to March4OurLives, and isn't this a political statement? Yes, I read this letter as encouragement to make our caring, Christian, presence and voice heard - and as I have said I will be doing just that. And Yes, I would say that this is a "political" (ie; "public") action, but in no way a partisan action. Again, your bishops speak from long held commitments of this church that pre-date the Trump Administration, or the Obama Administration, or the Bush Administration. This letter is not a reaction to current politics. It is a reaction to social violence, at risk Youth, and our commitment as a church to be present and accountable.

God bless us all as we seek to care for the young and vulnerable among us.

With faith,

Bp. Dave Brauer-Rieke
Oregon Synod - ELCA

March 21, 2018


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