Social Justice

Faith Is Active in Love. Love Calls for Justice in Society. PDF Print

"Give justice to the weak and the orphan;

Maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.

Rescue the weak and the needy;

Deliver them from the hand of the wicked." Psalm 82:3-4



Jesus connected his ministry to the call for justice that began with the Hebrew prophets when, at the beginning of his ministry, he proclaimed in the synagogue these words from Isaiah:


 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.”                                                                     Luke 4:18



 The purpose of social justice efforts within the ELCA is to guide the life of this church as an institution and inform the conscience of its members in the spirit of Christian liberty.




The Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective, p. 9


In response, the Wooden Cross Constitution says:


To participate in God’s mission, this congregation as a part of the [ELCA] shall:

Serve in response to God’s love to meet human needs, caring for the sick and the aged, advocating dignity and justice for all people, working for peace and reconciliation among the nations, and standing with the poor and powerless, and committing itself to their needs. 

(WC Constitution, Chapter 4.02.d adopted 1/22/12)



The ELCA social statement,Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective,puts it like this:


“As a public church, we are called to address significant social issues that affect the common good. We seek to bring God’s justice not only in the world but also in the church. The social statements of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are social policy documents, adopted by the churchwide assembly in accordance with our policies and procedures....The church must participate in social structures critically. Not only God but also sin is at work in the world. Social structures and processes combine life-giving and life-destroying dynamics in complex mixtures and in varying degrees. The church, therefore, must unite realism and vision, wisdom and courage, in its social responsibility. It needs constantly to discern when to support and when to confront society’s cultural patterns, values, and powers.”


Regarding social issues, the ELCA reminds its congregations that:


 “Faithful participation in society is integral and vital to the mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  As individual members and as a corporate body, this church lives out the Christian faith in encounter with the concerns that shape life in God’s creation. Social statements, messages, social policy resolutions, and studies of social issues are important means by which this church carries out its participation in society.” Social Issues.




How the ELCA Addresses Social Issues PDF Print

"This church shall develop social statements...that will guide the life of this church as an institution and inform the conscience of its members in the spirit of Christian liberty."

The Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective, p. 9



The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America addresses social concerns as a witness to God’s just and loving purpose for all of creation. It does this by equipping and nurturing members for their calling in the world, encouraging learning and moral deliberation around social concerns, developing and enacting social teaching in the form of social statements, and interpreting and applying social policy.


• Learn more about and read the 11 social statements of the ELCA.

• Learn more about and read the 12 social messages of the ELCA.

• Currently, a statement onCriminal Justiceis being developed.

• The ELCA has adopted numerous Social Policy Resolutions on a diverse range of topics.

• Find resources for your congregation to help it become a stronger community of moral deliberation.

• Policies and Procedures of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for Addressing Social Concerns describes the purpose, character, development and use of social statements, messages, social policy resolutions, and studies of social issues.


Social Statements


 ELCA social statements are teaching documents that assist members in their thinking about social issues. They are meant to aid in communal and individual moral formation and deliberation. Social statements also set policy for this church and guide its advocacy and work in the public arena. They result from an extensive processof participation and deliberationand are adopted by a two-thirds vote of aChurchwide Assembly.



Social Policy Messages


Social messages of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are built on its social policy (including social statements), draw attention to certain priority concerns that arise from this church’s mission in the world, and encourage discussion and action. They address the contemporary situation in light of the prophetic and compassionate traditions of the Bible. They are adopted by the ELCA Church Council and express the convictions of the leaders of this church. Since 1988, the ELCA has adopted twelve Messages.


Social Policy Resolutions


Social policy resolutions refer to actions, other than social statements and social messages, of the Churchwide Assembly or Church Council on matters of social concern. Normally, social policy resolutions shall rely upon or be consistent with the teachings and policy of social statements.

From Policies and Procedures of the ELCA for Addressing Social Concerns




The ELCA determines for what it should advocate based on the adopted social statements and social policy resolutions.  Social statements are major documents on social issues adopted by at least a two-thirds majority of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly.  Social policy resolutions address specific topics, are based upon and consistent with social statements, and may be adopted by either the Churchwide Assembly or the ELCA Church Assembly or the ELCA Church Council.

From Policies and Procedures of the ELCA for Addressing Social Concerns, p. 13




Faith Action Network (FAN) PDF Print

Fan WA

 FAN is a faith-inspired statewide partnership striving for a just, compassionate, and sustainable world through community building, education, and courageous public action. Their vision is to build a widely diverse coalition of people of all faiths and to ally with like-minded communities and organizations across the state of Washington to take courageous action and help create a more just and peaceful world.


FAN, formerly the Lutheran Public Policy Office and the Washington Association of Churches, works to be centered around creating lasting change and positive cultural transformation by:


• Empowering a network of faith communities, including Advocating Congregations, to stand up for social justice and the common good at the local, state, and national levels;


• Organizing the Veterans Support Network and the Faith Community Mental Health Training Network, providing education and resources so congregations and communities can support veterans, their families, and those affected by mental illness;


• Bringing together all people of faith to our state capitol for the annual Interfaith Advocacy Day, to be a powerful unified voice advocating for the protection of the vulnerable and reflecting our common vision of a compassionate, just society;


• Building interfaith and ecumenical relationships and coalitions for a unified, strong moral voice and public witness;


• Educating with forums, workshops, and public actions, and by providing guest speakers in congregations on important public policy priorities, current events, advocacy, and resource sharing.


You can sign up for FAN Advocacy Alerts and E-News.