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Individuals: Why Lutherans?


Why Lutherans Care for All Creation


Foundations for an Eco-Justice Reformation


1. Theology: Rooted in the theology of Martin Luther and the ongoing Lutheran reformation tradition, we affirm God as creator of all, with an incarnation theology that cherishes the continuing presence of God in, with, and under all reality. We see redemption through Christ as a “new creation.” And we experience the Holy Spirit as sustainer of all, straining toward the fulfillment of creation.


2. Cross and Resurrection: The gospel  of the cross leads us to see God in solidarity with the human situation and all creation in all its pain and agony, especially the most vulnerable. A theology of the cross gives us communion with “creation groaning in travail” and stresses that God redeems all creation. Our affirmation of resurrection offers hope for new life in this world.


3. Worship and Sacraments: We affirm that the material world is good and capable of bearing the divine and that Christ is present in such ordinary elements of life as grapes and grain—the basis for our delight in and reverence for all creation. Our worship invites us into transforming encounters with God in the flesh and in the whole natural world. We are called to worship God with creation.


4. Vocation: Our biblical vocation is “to serve and to preserve” Earth. We believe that the church exists for the sake of the world. As such, we are called to continual reformation in response to the needs and crises of this life. Our vocation is to work here and now for human justice and care for all creation. When Luther was asked what he would do if the world would end tomorrow, he replied, “Plant a tree.”


5. Ethics: We have an ethic of faith-active-in-love for vulnerable neighbors and the vulnerable in all creation. Liberated from a legalism that limits and enslaves, we live in the freedom to address new situations, such as the ecological state of the world. We do so not to dominate but as servants to all Earth community. We do so not out of fear or guilt or arrogance but joyfully out of gratitude, grace, and love. 


6. Social Ministry: With a heritage rooted in the Reformation, Lutherans have a history of social service to the poor, the elderly, the sick, the oppressed, the marginalized—through hospitals, homes for the elderly, social ministry agencies, Lutheran Immigration Service, and Lutheran World Relief. Now we extend these commitments to healing and restoring Earth community (www.elca.org/careforcreation).


7. Advocacy: The ELCA has adopted social statements “Caring for Creation” and “Sustainable Livelihood for All.” We have fulltime staff in an environmental/hunger advocacy office in Washington DC and in Lutheran Public Policy offices in many states (www.elca.org/advocacy).


8. Scholarship and Education: Lutheran scholars have written, lectured, and taught on ecology—in theology, ethics, biblical study, and social commentary. Colleges and seminaries of the ELCA have environmental/eco-justice programs that prepare Lutherans for leadership in the church and in the world. Continuing education events for clergy and laity highlight creation care and eco-justice.


9. Caring for Creation across the church: Several synods are self-identified as Care-For-Creation Synods. Synodical and churchwide resolutions call for us to address environmental crises. Many Lutheran congregations incorporate Earth-care commitments in their life and mission—worship, education, building and grounds, discipleship at home and work, and public ministry. Lutheran camps have brought environmental concerns to many people. The ELCA headquarters has a Green Team that models environmental action. The ELCA offers grants for environmental projects.


10. Organizations for Earthkeeping: Lutherans have led in the Green Congregation Program, the Green Seminary Initiative, promoted care for creation worship (www.letallcreationpraise.org), and offered resources and programs through Lutherans Restoring Creation (www.lutheransrestoringcreation.org).


 


Lutherans are in a critical position to listen to the cry of the poor along with the cry of the Earth and to take leadership in these critical issues of our day. Eco-justice and caring for creation are not add-ons. They are foundational to our faith. We encourage everyone to participate in this great work of our time.


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