ELCA NEWS SERVICE
January 31, 2007
ELCA Task Force Works Toward Completing Proposed Statement on Education
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Task Force on Education of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is in the process of completing "Our Calling in Education," a proposed social statement on education for the ELCA. The 16-member task force met here Jan. 26-28.
The proposed social statement will be forwarded to the program committee of ELCA Church in Society, staff of the ELCA churchwide organization and others. It will be presented to the ELCA Church Council with a request from the task force to place the proposed social statement on the agenda of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly for action. The council is the ELCA's board of directors and serves as the legislative authority of the church between churchwide assemblies. The council will meet here April 13-16. Assemblies are held every other year; the next is here Aug. 6-12.
Adopted by ELCA churchwide assemblies, social statements are social policy documents that address significant social issues. The 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly called for a statement on education. The task force, first assembled in 2003, produced an 82-page booklet, "Our Calling in Education: A Lutheran Study," to assist the church in its study of education.
"We have this remarkable tradition among Lutherans of always putting a great deal of emphasis on education and understanding, and we've always understood that education and living out our vocation go together. You really can't have one without the other," Dr. Paul J. Dovre, task force co-chair and retired president of Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn., said in an interview.
"Our confessions and our biblical heritage call us to be concerned about knowing, learning and growing because of our delight in God's creation and our response to God's call to be co-creators. Education has to be part of that enterprise. And, we just are naturally inquiring people, eager to know, eager to understand. It's a gift that God placed in us," he said.
In the proposed social statement, people can expect "us to be talking about the importance of education in the home and in the congregation," Dovre said. "We want to reinvigorate education in those areas," he said.
"They can expect us to express concern and argue pretty strongly for a strong role in supporting our public schools. And, we're pretty forthright in our analysis of that, and our advocacy for appropriate funding and appropriate support on the part of our members for our teachers in public schools and for the schools themselves, the students and programs," said Dovre.
"You can also expect a strong affirmation for Lutheran schools, childhood education centers, colleges and universities. Early childhood, pre-Kindergarten through 12, education is (a) growing frontier in this church, so it's an opportune time to be thinking about that and to be strategizing how we can show support for that," Dovre said, adding that the social statement also talks about ELCA colleges and universities and public higher education institutions.
"This is a church for which education is a foundation. It is tied closely to our baptismal vocation. It outlines how we live our calling into the world," Christi Lines, task force co-chair and principal of St. Paul's Lutheran School and Southeast Elementary School, Waverly, Iowa, said in an interview. "It seems to be an appropriate time in the church to take an intense look at how education affects people in their vocation and all of life," she said.
More than 200 elementary and 20 secondary schools are operated by ELCA congregations throughout the United States and Caribbean. More than 2,000 of the ELCA's 10,549 congregations operate early childhood education centers. In the past year, more than 100 congregations have expressed an interest in opening a school or center. The ELCA has 28 colleges and universities, eight seminaries and two seminary extension centers.
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Information about the ELCA social statement on education is at http://www.ELCA.org/socialstatements/education on the ELCA Web site. Information about ELCA schools and early childhood education, colleges and universities is at http://www.ELCA.org/vocationeducation on the ELCA Web site.
Audio of Dovre's comments is at http://media.ELCA.org/audionews/070131.mp3 on the ELCA Web site.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog