Bibliography of Resources for 2016 Elections:

“Faithful participation in society is integral and vital to the mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.”

The ELCA is blessed with numerous carefully prepared, theologically faithful, and thoughtfully written social statements and messages, providing remarkable resources to guide us as we engage as citizens in the public square. Below is a bibliography (with brief annotations) of links to some of the most relevant documents to resource us in the context of the 2016 elections.

Politics and the Pulpit via The Pew Forum (link)

Being a Public Church: IRS Guidelines (link)


Social Teaching Documents:

ELCA social statements are teaching and policy documents that provide broad frameworks to assist us in discussing social issues in the context of faith and life. They are meant to help communities and individuals with moral formation, deliberation and thoughtful engagement with current social issues as we participate in God’s work in the world. Social statements also set policy for the ELCA and guide its advocacy and work as a publically engaged church. They result from an extensive process of participation and deliberation and are adopted by a two-thirds vote of an ELCA Churchwide Assembly.

The 1991 Church and Society Social Statement provides a helpful overview.

The complete list of ELCA Social Statements: Abortion (1991); Church in Society (1991); Criminal Justice (2013); Death Penalty (1991); Economic Life (1999); Education (2007); Caring for Creation (1993); Genetics (2011); Health and Healthcare (2003); Human Sexuality (2009); Peace (1995); Race, Ethnicity and Culture (1993).

In addition to social statements, there are ELCA policy resolutions and social messages relevant to the election: Extremist Groups (social policy resolution, 1995); Immigration (social message, 1998); Immigrant Welcome (social policy resolution, 2011); Living in a Time of Terrorism (social message, 2004); Voting Rights to All Citizens (2013); Toward Compassionate, Just, and Wise Immigration Reform (social 2009); A social policy resolution on Immigrant Welcome (social policy resolution, 2011)

Talking Together and Discernment:

As a community of moral deliberation, the Church seeks to ‘discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect’ (Romans 12:2). Christians struggle together on social questions in order to know better how to live faithfully and responsibly in their callings. We fulfill our vocation in many ways that reflect the rich variety of the gifts of the Spirit. As a result, we often disagree passionately on the kind of responses and reactions we have to social questions and issues. United in Christ, we welcome and celebrate our diversity. The ELCA is a church committed to lively conversation as we strive to discern God’s guidance within the ambiguity of daily life and embrace each other — questions, complexities and all. 

In 2013, the ELCA Task Force on Communal Discernment presented its report on the practice of decision-making and communal spiritual discernment, an important resource available by searching for Report of the Communal Discernment Task Force at

Publicly Engaged Church:

We are a publicly engaged church that rolls up our sleeves and gets to work. We do God’s work in the world, the work of restoring and reconciling communities. We pursue justice and seek peace no matter how long the journey or wide the chasm. Because we are grounded in God’s love and forgiveness, we are well equipped to live and serve here and now, in the world, with all its complexities, tensions and ambiguities. There is no aspect of life in which God is not active, no place where God is not present. And this is exactly where we are called to participate in God’s work, in the thick of life, embracing individuals, families and communities that are hungry for hope and healing, justice and peace, advocates and partners. 

Our faith and our call to boldly serve and love our neighbor take us into some interesting and challenging aspects of life: advocacy, corporate social responsibility, racial justice, science and ethics, peacemaking, justice for women, social issues, and community organizing. We are drawn into every corner of life, society and its institutions to bring the good news of Jesus Christ and to work for lasting, positive change that upholds human dignity. You have a place in the ELCA and an important role in God’s work in the world — find ways here to get connected to a community of faith and the work of our publicly engaged church.

ELCA Advocacy Action Center:

As members of the ELCA, we believe that we are freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor. God uses our hands, through our direct service work and our voices, through our advocacy efforts, to restore and reconcile our world.

The ELCA works for change in public policy based on the experience of Lutheran ministries, programs, and projects around the world and in communities across the United States.  Our faith calls us to learn more and speak out on issues affecting our vulnerable neighbors and the forces threatening creation. 

Called to be a Public Church:

This ELCA civic participation guide was prepared by the ELCA’s Washington Office in 2014 and is available for download by searching for Called to be a Public Church: Guide to Civic Participation under the tab “Advocacy Toolkit” at the above link. 

ELCA Votes:

ELCA Votes is an initiative to:

  • Expand the role of the church in encouraging faithful and non-partisan voter participation by providing faith based resources around voting;
  • Provide a framework for all Lutherans to understand and speak out about the intersection of voting/elections, racial/gender and economic justice;
  • Provide young adults the tools to understand and speak about what it means to be a young person of faith who is civically engaged; and
  • Engage with and equip ethnic communities to talk about voting rights and race and their connection with elections today.
  • “[It is] resolved, that members, congregations, and synods of this church be encouraged to “promote public life worthy of the name” by speaking out as an advocate and engaging in local efforts such as voter registration and supporting legislation to guarantee the right to vote to all citizens …” Social Policy Resolution “Voting Rights to All Citizens” adopted Aug. 2013

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