ELCA NEWS SERVICE
March 21, 2011
ELCA Presiding Bishop Tells Orion Samuelson 'Farming is God-Given Call'
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- In an interview with well-known agricultural journalist Orion Samuelson, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) said "farming is a God-given call and that farmers are exercising that call as they feed the hungry in the world, as they care for creation, as they provide for their own families and communities."
Samuelson interviewed Hanson about the church, its relationship to agriculture, and portions of a proposed ELCA social statement, Genetics, Faith and Responsibility, for Samuelson's weekly television program, "This Week in Agribusiness," on the satellite network, RFD-TV. The interview is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lFKqaedtFo on the Web.
Samuelson also aired the entire interview on his March 5 radio broadcast on WGN-AM radio, Chicago, available at http://ow.ly/4fXNz on the Web.
Agriculture and related issues are significant for many ELCA members, Hanson said. He told Samuelson that about 47 percent of the ELCA's 10,000-plus congregations are in rural communities or communities of less than 10,000 people.
Hanson recalled his own father's experiences growing up on a farm in South Dakota, and his father-in-law's experience working with sheep and taking high school courses by correspondence. Today's farmers work under different circumstances, he said, noting a recent visit to a friend's farming operation in South Dakota where computers are in regular use.
"The questions that farmers have today are so much more complex. The capacity we now have to feed the world and the complexity that comes with it beckons us to say, 'How do we use it responsibly?'" Hanson said in the interview. "Just because we can, I think we always (must) ask, 'Should we, and for whose sake?' Those kinds of questions are faith questions for the sake of God and the stewardship that God has placed in our hands for God's creation, and for God's people to be fed."
Hanson said the proposed social statement, requested by the ELCA Northeastern Iowa Synod and authorized by the 2005 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, honors the vocation of farming. It does not attempt to tell farmers how to manage their operations, nor does it criticize the use of genetically modified organisms, he said. Instead, it asks people of faith to consider how to use genetic knowledge and its power responsibly, Hanson said. People who work in agriculture and related industries should be part of that conversation, he said.
The proposed statement is intended to foster conversation and reflection about genetics and its uses in agriculture, medicine and science, Hanson said. It does not suggest what people should believe.
"These are questions that are before our people in the pews in our church that I think we want to provide resources for," Hanson said. "It's an invitation."
In the interview, Hanson emphasized that the ELCA has a "participatory process" leading to the development of its social statements, and he said the church is now "engaging" the proposed statement. ELCA social statements are teaching and policy documents, developed through extensive and inclusive deliberation by members, and provide ethical and theological perspectives on a particular topic.
After review by the ELCA Church Council in April, the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly is expected to consider adopting Genetics, Faith and Responsibility as an ELCA social statement when it meets in August in Orlando, Fla. The ELCA Conference of Bishops commented on the proposal at its meeting earlier this month in Itasca, Ill.
The text of the proposed social statement, Genetics, Faith and Responsibility, is at http://www.ELCA.org/genetics on the ELCA website.
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with approximately 4.5 million members in more than 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
John Brooks, (773) 380-2958 or email@example.com