On Aug. 9, the Churchwide Assembly voted 863-26 to approve the social statement “Faith, Sexism and Justice: A Call to Action” and its implementing resolutions.

The social statement, in part, confesses patriarchy and sexism as sin; names the resources of the Lutheran faith to address this sin; and calls the church to action and new commitments on a range of issues, including gender-based violence, workplace discrimination and economic inequality.

“For too long, women and girls haven’t been able to see God’s reflection in ourselves,” said Bethany Fayard, a member of the ELCA Task Force on Women and Justice: One in Christ from the Southeastern Synod, as the statement was introduced. “This social statement is a declaration by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that we stand with all women. Here I stand. Let us stand together.”

The 2009 Churchwide Assembly authorized the development of this social statement. Ten years later, national conversations on sexual misconduct, gender justice and institutional sexism are much more widespread and dominant in the news.

“This is for all of us. This is for the whole church. This is for all of humanity.”

“I’ve been waiting all my life for this. From my childhood, when I was told I couldn’t be a pastor, on,” said Jessica Crist, then bishop of the Montana Synod, in an Aug. 6 hearing on the social statement. “This is for all of us. This is for the whole church. This is for all of humanity.”

Adopted amendments included adding “American Indian and Alaskan native religious identity,” intended to expand the list of intersectional categories; clarifying that the statement doesn’t revisit the matters addressed in the 2009 ELCA social statement on human sexuality; and changing the title to remove the word “Lutheran,” making clear that the statement also speaks to public and ecumenical audiences.

Recommended assembly action included calling on the Office of the Presiding Bishop, in collaboration with appropriate units in the churchwide organization, to “establish and oversee processes for implementation of accountability for these resolutions,” and to report to the ELCA Church Council’s fall 2021 meeting.

Many voting members and guests displayed tears of joy after the statement was adopted. Following the vote, the assembly rose and sang “Canticle of the Turning,” featuring the chorus, “My heart shall sing of the day you bring. Let the fires of your justice burn. Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn.”

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