Public Witness in the ELCA
In their social statement on Church in Society, the ELCA sets forth the precedent that, “Faithful participation in society is integral and vital to the mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.” The ELCA is made up of many committees working boldly and providing public witness in some of the most challenging aspects of community, including advocacy, corporate social responsibility, racial justice, science and ethics, peacemaking, justice for women, social issues, and community organizing. Learn more about the ELCA as a publicly engaged church at www.elca.org.
Public Witness in Our Synod
The Bishop’s Committee for Public Witness consists of work groups with a mission to provide witness to the synod's Statement of Purpose. The work groups receive support of synod staff as they take on issues specific to their mission. Currently, these work groups include: Through Prison Bars; ENGAGE; Anti-Racism and Multiculturalism Work Group; and Cherish All Children Ministry Team. If you are interested in forming a public witness work group, contact the bishop at email@example.com or 651.224.4313.
Through Prison Bars: Connecting Congregations with Jail and Prison Ministry
Through Prison Bars is a work group seeking to develop a comprehensive resource for congregations to use to engage in jail and prison ministry. Offering Biblical and theological preparation, the resource will prepare a participating congregation to understand the need for this type of ministry, as well as its own gifts it offers, examining options for the congregation, training for those who commit to this ministry, and evaluation of the ministry as it unfolds.
The working group will identify and work with a pilot congregation using a template or model for conducting a simple start-up ministry. Later, using lessons-learned and best practices, the working group will offer more complex follow-on opportunities and a second pilot.
Through Prison Bars work group has to mission to demonstrate expanded connectivity between members of congregations and those who are incarcerated in Minnesota's jails and prisons. It will show approved, safe ways to live out the love that Christ describes in Matthew 25 to prisoners. For more information, contact Deacon Jerry Dufeck at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651.315.3976.
The mission of ENGAGE is to meditate on, educate about, and advocate for gun violence prevention in the nonviolent Spirit of Jesus Christ. In Minnesota, there are about 90 homicides and 350 gun suicides each year. Nationally, there are about 12,000 gun homicides and 20,000 gun suicides annually. The United States has the highest rate of gun deaths among all Western nations. Sadly, two shooters, Dylan Klebold at Columbine in Colorado, and Dylann Roof at Mother Immanuel Church in Charleston, were ELCA youth. The ELCA “has skin in this gun violence game.”
ENGAGE seeks to lessen gun violence in our homes, schools, places of work and worship. The team will provide for conversation on Sunday mornings, weekday evenings, or at other times. The content is Biblical, musical, factual, and action oriented. If interested or have questions, contact the Rev. Ron Letnes at email@example.com or 763-291-4003.
Anti-Racism & Multiculturalism Work Group
The mission of the Anti-Racism & Multiculturalism (ARM) work group is to identify and make churches aware of pathways for confronting white privilege and racism in our church, to convene congregational leaders ready to start and sustain the journey toward justice and encourage SPAS congregations to move beyond awareness to public advocacy and activism.
For more information about the ARM work group, contact co-chairs the Rev. Jen Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Rev. Elizabeth Beir at email@example.com. Our regular meetings are every third Thursday from 7-8:30pm at the synod office building.
Cherish All Children Ministry Team
Cherish All Children Ministry Team works to educate and engage congregations in action to prevent child sexual exploitation. They will be connecting with each Saint Paul Area Synod congregation in 2017 to provide information about the issue of child sexual exploitation and how they may engage your congregation in prayer, education, and action. Adult forums, internet safety training, and other educational opportunities are available.
More about Cherish All Children can be found at www.cherishallchildren.org. Contact Mike Banks of St. Paul Reformation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651.644.5974 to learn more about engaging with Cherish All Children.