“Every faithful caregiver who sits with victims of violence knows what we know – as God’s church, we are called to reduce violence and should, in most cases, restrain ourselves from using violence. Whether or not statistics show that overall violence has declined in recent years, every person wounded or killed is a precious child of God.
“As bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, we lament the tragedy of gun violence in our country. We are grieved by the way violence threatens and destroys life. We affirm the current soul searching and shared striving to find a way to a better future.”
These are the opening sentences of A Pastoral Letter on Violence adopted by the ELCA Conference of Bishops, adopted on March 4, 2013. The Rev. Richard H. Graham, bishop of the Metro D.C. Synod, is in the conference. Read and download the full letter (pdf file) on this site, or read online on the ELCA Web site.
“This letter intends to encourage conversation and common reflection,” said Bishop Graham when forwarding it to rostered leaders in the Metro D.C. Synod and recommending circulation.
“The ELCA has already made significant statements on violence, and we wanted to call attention to what our church has already said. But we also wanted to be able to make a statement as a Conference of Bishops in response to a culture of violence,” said the Rev. Jessica R. Crist, bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod and chair of the conference (ELCA News Service, 3/8/13). “The letter was carefully crafted and re-crafted, debated and prayed about. We commend it to the church.”