Our children and youth are like a young Jeremiah prophesying to the people: For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jer. 29:11) 

 Recently, the students, faculty and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida experienced tragedy. Seventeen people - students and teachers - were killed by a 19-year-old shooter. In response, students have invited their teachers, families and allies around the nation to join with them for a March for Our Lives on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC; calling our country into a deeper conversation about school safety and second amendment rights and responsibilities. 

 We recognize this incident is the latest in a long list of tragic shootings in our country and young people have been calling for protest and change for many years. Some of those young voices have been ignored or silenced because of racial and economic injustice. We cannot let that reality keep us from acting now.  

 Adopted in 1994, the ELCA social message on Community Violence remains sadly relevant today. The message speaks about the causes of violence as complex and pervasive, and of how violence breeds violence. In proclaiming the forgiveness and love of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the church addresses the root of violence while being committed to social actions that respond directly to violence and the people it affects.  

 From the Social Message: In the face of violence, God’s resolve for peace in human communities is unshakable. Deliberate acts to harm or kill innocent people violate God’s intention for human community. God’s commandment is “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13). In proclaiming God’s law, we declare that all people are accountable before God and the community to honor and respect the life God has given. Christians, as salt of the earth (Mt. 5:13) and light of the world (Mt. 5:14), are called to respond to violent crime in the restorative ways taught by Jesus (Mt. 5:38-39) and shown by his actions (Jn. 8:3-11). We are empowered to take up the challenge to prevent violence and to attack the complex causes that make violence so pervasive. 

 According to Lutheran theology, society is to be ruled by the civil use of the Law. Government is responsible under God for the protection of its citizens and the maintenance of justice and public order. As citizens in a democracy, we have the responsibility to join with others to hold government accountable for protecting society and ensuring justice for all, and to seek changes in policies and practices toward these ends. 

 That social message was amplified by a social statement, For Peace in God’s World (1995) which, as part of its adoption, offered concrete implementation actions, including: To call upon the members and leaders of this church to support our youth in their struggle to define their identity and vocation as present and future peacemakers… 

 The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in solidarity with our children and youth, and in response to our common baptismal vocation: living among God’s faithful people, hearing the word of God and sharing in the Lord’s Supper, proclaiming the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, serving all people following the example of Jesus, and striving for justice and peace in all the earth; offer our support, partnership and prayers for the March for Our Lives, its satellite city events, and our children and youth who are leading us forward as peacemakers. 

The undersigned members have given their names in public and personal support of the statement.

The Rev. Thomas M. Aitken, Bishop

Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Abraham D. Allende, Bishop

Northeastern Ohio Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Jon Anderson, Bishop

Southwestern Minnesota Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Jim Arends, Bishop

LaCrosse Area Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Tracie L. Bartholomew, Bishop

New Jersey Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Daniel G. Beaudoin, Bishop

Northwestern Ohio Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Wm. Chris Boerger, Secretary

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Rev. Claire Schenot Burkat, Bishop

Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Michael Burk, Bishop

Southeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Jeffrey Clements, Bishop

Northern Illinois Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Barbara J. Collins, Bishop

Upper Susquehanna Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Jessica Crist, Bishop

Montana Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Steven H. Delzer, Bishop

Southeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Suzanne Darcy Dillahunt, Bishop

Southern Ohio Synod, ELCA

The Rev. James Dunlop, Bishop

Lower Susquehanna Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Paul D. Erickson, Bishop

Greater Milwaukee Synod, ELCA

The Rev. R. Guy Erwin, Bishop

Southwest California Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Katherine Finegan, Bishop

Northern Great Lakes Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Mary Froiland, Bishop

South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, ELCA

The Rev. William O. Gafkjen, Bishop

Indiana-Kentucky Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Mike Girlinghouse, Bishop

Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod, ELCA

The Rev. William Gohl, Jr., Bishop

Delaware-Maryland Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Jim Gonia, Bishop

Rocky Mountain Synod, ELCA

The Rev. H. Julian Gordy, Bishop

Southeastern Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Richard H. Graham, Bishop

Metropolitan Washington, DC Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Erik K. J. Gronberg, Bishop

Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Roger Gustafson, Bishop

Central States Synod, ELCA

The Rev. James Hazelwood, Bishop

New England Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Mark W. Holmerud, Bishop

Sierra Pacific Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Rick Hoyme, Bishop

Northwest Synod of Wisconsin, ELCA

The Rev. Robert F. Humphrey, Bishop

Virginia Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Rick Jaech, Bishop

Southwestern Washington Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Ralph E. Jones, Bishop

Northwest Pennsylvania Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Donald Kress, Bishop

Southeast Michigan Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Kristen E. M. Kuempel, Bishop

Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Wilma Kucharek, Bishop

Slovak Zion Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Kurt F. Kusserow, Bishop

Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Felipe Lozada-Montanez, Bishop

Caribbean Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Patricia Lull, Bishop

St. Paul Area Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Brian Maas, Bishop

Nebraska Synod, ELCA

The Rev. John S. Macholz, Bishop

Upstate New York Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Gerald L. Mansholt

East Central Synod of Wisconsin

The Rev. Donald. J. McCoid, Interim Bishop

Metropolitan New York Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Wayne N. Miller, Bishop

Metropolitan Chicago Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Rodger G. Prois, Bishop

Western Iowa Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Michael Rinehart, Bishop

Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Michael L. Rhyne, Bishop

Allegheny Synod, ELCA

The Rev. S. John Roth, Bishop

Central/Southern Illinois Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Craig Alan Satterlee, Bishop

North West Lower Michigan Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Timothy M. Smith, Bishop

North Carolina Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Pedro Suarez, Bishop

Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Ann Svennungsen, Bishop

Minneapolis Area Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Andrew A. Taylor, Bishop

Pacifica Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Ray Tiemann, Bishop

Southwestern Texas Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Kirby Unti, Bishop

Northwest Washington Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Steven L. Ullestad, Bishop

Northeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Shelley R. Wickstrom, Bishop

Alaska Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Lawrence R. Wohlrabe, Bishop

Northwestern Minnesota Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Herman Yoos, Bishop

South Carolina Synod, ELCA

The Rev. Samuel R. Zeiser, Bishop

Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod, ELCA

Additional Resources