Monday, Jul. 22, 2019

Sierra Pacific Lutheran Synod Endorses Department of Peacebuilding Legislation

By Nancy Merritt · May 27, 2017

Pr. Doug Merritt, Bishop Mark Holmerud, Nancy Merritt <span>&copy;  </span>

Pr. Doug Merritt, Bishop Mark Holmerud, Nancy Merritt


Thumbs Up on DoP Endorsement from St. Paulus San Francisco <span>&copy;  </span> St. Paulus Celebrates 150th Anniversary Booth <span>&copy;  </span> Dept. of Peacebuilding Booth & Supporters <span>&copy;  </span>

The Sierra Pacific Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), endorsed legislation calling for establishment of a cabinet-level Department of Peacebuilding (HR 1111) at its annual assembly in Fresno, CA on May 6, 2017.  Advocates will work with other Lutheran synods to take this resolution to the churchwide convention in 2019.  The resolution cited the church’s 1995 social statement “For Peace in God’s World” on the responsibility of this church to work for peace. 

The ELCA Sierra Pacific Synod includes approximately 63,000 Lutherans in 204 congregations across 48 counties in northern California and 12 counties in northern Nevada.  The synod is headed by Bishop Mark Mark W. Holmerud.  Approximately 500 pastors and lay members attended the synod convention. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America represents 13 million people.  (See www.elca.org and www.spselca.org) 

The resolution was submitted by Pastor Doug Merritt, with support from Nancy Merritt, Pastor Dan Solberg, Saint Paulus Lutheran Church in San Francisco and Pastor Brian Stein-Weber of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA.  As the resolution came up for discussion, one person called out, “What would Martin Luther do?”

The Synod resolution provides that House Resolution 1111 (HR1111) would implement action in keeping with the goals stated in “For Peace in God’s World,” by creating a Cabinet-level Department of Peacebuilding that will work to reduce domestic and international violence, to gather and coordinate information and recommendations, to teach violence prevention, generosity, compassion and mediation to America’s school children, to treat and dismantle gang psychology, to rehabilitate prison populations and to support our military with complementary approaches to ending violence.  HR 1111 was introduced in Congress on 2/16/17 by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13).

The Synod meeting coincided with the 150th anniversary of one resolution sponsor, St. Paulus Church in San Francisco.  That church survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and currently ministers to the homeless community. 

The complete resolution is:

SIERRA PACIFIC SYNOD: RESOLUTION 2017-3
REGARDING Creation of a Department of Peacebuilding in the U.S. Government

WHEREAS Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, admonishes us with the words, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9); and

WHEREAS Scripture calls us to pursue what makes for peace (Romans 14:19), peace in marriage (1Corinthians 7:15), peace in our relationships with others (2 Corinthians 13:11), to strive for peace with all people (Hebrews 12:14); and

WHEREAS the Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA in 1995, adopted the social statement “For Peace in God’s World” on the responsibility of this church to work for peace; and

WHEREAS House Resolution 1111 (HR1111) would implement action in keeping with the goals stated in “For Peace in God’s World,” by creating a Cabinet-level Department of Peacebuilding that will work to reduce domestic and international violence, to gather and coordinate information and recommendations, to teach violence prevention, generosity, compassion and mediation to America’s school children, to treat and dismantle gang psychology, to rehabilitate prison populations and to support our military with complementary approaches to ending violence; and

WHEREAS “There is a convergence of the ELCA's peacemaking priorities with the constitutive goals of a United States Department of Peace[building] (HR1111 – 2017) worthy of further exploration by the ELCA's expressions and affiliated and related independent organizations.” (Program Unit for Church in Society of the ELCA – 2010); therefore be it

RESOLVED that the Sierra Pacific Synod, meeting in assembly 2017, memorialize the 2019 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA to endorse and advocate for HR1111 by calling on the Office of Domestic Mission of the ELCA to notify the nationwide network of state public policy advocacy offices and the members of the United States House of Representatives of this church’s support for HR1111; and be it further

RESOLVED that the Sierra Pacific Synod, meeting in assembly, memorialize the 2019 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA to endorse and advocate for HR1111 by calling on the Office of Domestic Mission of the ELCA to encourage “affiliation” between The Peace Alliance/U.S. Department of Peace-building and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and be it further

RESOLVED that the Sierra Pacific Synod, meeting in assembly, memorialize the 2019 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA to call for the Strategic Communications unit to provide ELCA congregation members and staff with information about HR1111 through all appropriate media including, but not limited to, Living Lutheran magazine and the ELCA website.

RESOLVED, that the Sierra Pacific Synod in assembly direct the Synod Council or its designee to communicate to member congregations of this Synod and to all other Synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America through their appropriate units the substance of this “peace initiative” by the distribution of the Delegate Packet entitled “Regarding: Creations of a Cabinet-level Department of Peacebuilding in the U.S. Government HR1111,” encouraging the study of its content, followed by the consideration of endorsement and advocacy of HR 1111 through all means available to those engaged.

Approved by the 2017 Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly, Saturday, May 6, 2017 

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