Our Calling in Education

What does the ELCA teach about… Education?

Our discussion on the social statements of the ELCA continues with what has been – at least to my mind – one of most universal in the list: Our Calling in Education.  This social statement was developed in 2007 and covers the many ways we think of “education” in our world.  You can read the entire social statement on the ELCA webpage at:  https://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Education.

“Education” tends to be a word that is used in so many ways – which may be why the full ELCA social statement is over 70 pages long.  As a tradition, the Lutheran Church has taught from its beginnings that it is good and right for every Christian to be able to read The Bible.  Because of that belief, the importance of public and quality education has been a long-held value and continues into this day.  When looking at Education and how it intersects with our Christian Faith, the ELCA social statement addresses it in two major branches.  (1) The role of public/private/parochial education in the world and (2) Christian education – particularly education of the Christian faith for children and youth.

The social statement calls on individuals, congregations, and other denominational bodies to:

  1. Support and encourage high-quality K-12 education for all children – recognizing the role of socio-economic status, family life, health, etc. as barriers for children to receiving the best education.
  2. Support and encourage parents and caretakers as those who are the first faith educators of their children.
  3. Support and encourage efforts such as Outdoor Ministries and Campus Ministries as ways to extend the education of our children and youth.
  4. Support and encourage a love of learning in all stages of life – whether that be academic or oriented to our lives as Christians.

While the social statement does not address all of the “hot button topics” directly, here are my interpretations of the social statement with some of the challenges in education:

  1. School Prayer:  The ELCA teaches that the study of religion has a place in public schools, but as a type of social studies curriculum where other world religions are also discussed.  Specific religious activities or practices should not be promoted or required by students, teachers, or staff in public schools.
  2. Evolution and Creationism: The natural sciences (biology, astronomy, chemistry, physics, etc.) are not in disagreement with our statements of faith and students need not avoid those studies as a result.  Our own schools should teach them and reinforce science and faith as cooperative disciplines in understanding the world.
  3. Christian Education: The role of Christian Education begins with the primary caretakers of children but extends to their church community.  All members of the church have the responsibility to encourage young people in their learning.

If you have questions about any of our social statements, let me know.  I’d be happy to sit down and discuss them!

In Christian Love,

Pr. Sharilyn