From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Council Adopts Message On Terrorism

Date Fri, 23 Apr 2004 17:04:46 -0500


April 23, 2004

ELCA Council Adopts Message On Terrorism

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA) adopted "Living in a Time of Terrorism" as a
message of the ELCA.  The message is based on "For Peace in God's World,"
a social statement the ELCA adopted in 1995, which called the church "to
proclaim the gospel of God's final peace and to work for earthly peace."
     The Church Council is the ELCA's board of directors and serves as the
legislative authority of the church between churchwide assemblies.  The
council met here April 17-18.  Assemblies are held every other year; the
next is Aug. 8-14, 2005, in Orlando, Fla.
     The message on terrorism was meant to "spark discussion," the Rev.
John R. Stumme, director for studies, ELCA Division for Church in Society,
told the council, and not necessarily address "the whole emotional horror
of terrorism."	The division drafted the message for the council.
     Stumme shared several questions the message raises for discussion,
and the council decided to include them in the message's preface:
+ What is terrorism?
+ How in light of our faith should we oppose terrorism?
+ What are the responsibilities and limits of government for earthly peace
and security?
+ What gives rise to terrorism?
+ How does our faith address the fear that terrorism causes?
+ How should we as Christians relate to Muslims?
     ELCA messages are communications that draw attention to social issues
and encourage action on them.  The council adopts messages, while the
churchwide assembly adopts social statements after widespread study across
the ELCA, said the Rev. Rebecca Larson, executive director, ELCA Division
for Church in Society.	Messages are not new policy positions of the ELCA
but build upon previously adopted social statements and social policy
     The message on terrorism drew on the 1995 social statement "to give a
theological perspective on earthly peace, recall the role of governments,
call for public vigilance of counterterrorism and for international
cooperation, affirm the gospel's gift of living beyond fear, and highlight
the importance of interfaith encounters," it said.
     "In the gospel we find consolation in our sorrow, freedom from fear,
and hope to carry on the 'elusive quest to build earthly peace,' even when
terrorism and other evils haunt our times," said the message.  "May we in
this quest turn to God in prayer, asking forgiveness for our sins, wisdom
for discernment, and renewal for our spirits; and interceding for those
who suffer from terrorism and war, for those who govern the nations, for
those who would harm the innocent, for those who help the wounded, and for
those who provide security for the endangered."
     The council's discussion before adopting the message centered on
whether or not the message could pass the "church basement test" -- could
get Lutherans to come together in the church basement for a discussion on
the topic of terrorism.
     "In my church basement they're just going to say, 'There they go
again,'" said William R. Lloyd Jr., council member, Somerset, Pa.  He said
the message was too long, too academic and "not clear cut about the
terrorism we experienced."
     The Rev. Kim R. Taylor, council member, Tucson, Ariz., said his
congregation includes military families and political liberals, and he
felt the message could bring them together to talk about terrorism.  "I
find this a suitable tool for doing that task," he said.
-- -- --
     Messages of the ELCA are located at on the Web.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

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