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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Get faith right and works will follow

Bishop column, minimum wage & 'trump cards' articles stir up readers

More than social work
The study guide "Activism: 'Doing church' a new way" (November, page 26) seems to be saying that social work can be the main purpose of the church. The church is not just another social service agency. Its main purpose is to praise God, which is both our duty and our joy. It is also there to bring up children in the faith through baptism, Sunday school, worship services, communion, confirmation and youth groups, and to evangelize, as well as to do good works in the community and the world. If you get the faith right, it will produce good works, which is the evidence of faith. If works isn't there, go back and look at the faith of the church. It doesn't work the other way around — works doesn't lead to faith.

Richard N. Bergesen
West Chester, Pa.

Nailed it
The article on the installation of Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton (November, page 8) and her first column (page 70) were great. I wish the column could be reproduced and sent to all households for everyone to read. Yes, she really nailed it, what it means to be Lutheran.

The Rev. William Perkins
Duluth, Minn.

Get up and go
More pastors need to take a minimum wage job for three months to discover the challenge many people experience (November, page 69). The Rev. Barbara L. Girod's article omits the many shortcomings of such workers — high school dropouts, refusal to take vocational training, going to college with no occupational aim. People shouldn't whine about pay/income and not do anything about it. The problem is we are too comfortable within the current culture and not willing to go where the work is or secure retraining.

August H. Luthens
Colfax, Iowa

A great story
I just wanted to read more about the Rev. Joseph Ellwanger's role in the civil rights movement (November, page 34). Please consider another article or possibly tell me where I could read more about this amazing pastor.

The Rev. Marlin Otte
Marion, Ill.

There is a way to God
I strongly disagree with the Rev. Dave Daubert's statement that "there is no way to God" (October, page 28). In John 14:6, Jesus clearly states that he is the way. Ephesians 2:8 reminds us that we are saved by grace through faith. The faith response is absolutely essential — that is "the way." That may take the form of baptism, confirmation or a simple prayer expressing faith ("Lord, I believe, help my unbelief") and so on. Everyone's faith journey is unique and there is no set "formula," but there has to be a commitment to an ongoing relationship with our Lord. To say that we don't have a part in the equation takes away the personal responsibility we all have and dangerously implies we can just sit back, do nothing and all is OK.

Dave Gale
Auburn, Wash.

Supper and prayers
"All of us behind one" was very interesting (October, page 30). The women of the American Lutheran Church Maumee Valley Conference of Northwestern Ohio sponsored a missionary beginning in 1970. After the denominational merger and the Women of the ELCA was formed, we voted to continue this sponsorship. We did not realize it was a unique project and are truly blessed to share Christ's great commission through financial support and prayers for John and Barbara LeMond for the past decades.

Sue McKibben
Defiance, Ohio

It's God's creation to lose
Climate change is an issue that the church should be involved in ("Letters to the editor," October, page 48) because more than anything it embodies the essence of stewardship. The earth is a conditional offering, loaned to us with the stipulation that we preserve and protect rather than pillage and plunder. The mining of carbon and emitting it into the atmosphere is the most radical experiment ever, yet we refuse to listen to our modern-day prophets who, using the best available science, warn us of an impending disaster. It is unconscionable for the church to remain silent. The stakes are simply too high.

Loren Johnson
Elkhorn, Wis.

Still a problem
The "airbrushing" of women did not end in the early history of the church (October, page 10), but is rather alive and well today. Deaconesses, women associates in ministry and pastors' wives have been airbrushed in our own time. Most Lutherans have no concept of the ministry of women outside the ordained ministry. It would be interesting to have articles in The Lutheran about the work of the non-ordained women and deaconesses.

The Rev. John T. Allen
South Milwaukee, Wis.

Inconsistent ethic
The Rev. Bernard K. Kern's article about the death penalty (September, page 49) was well written and logical. But it is hard to get motivated on that subject while we continue to kill our children at a rate of about 23,000 per week. The sin of silence in the ELCA on abortion is very grievous.

Dave Nelson
Billings, Mont.

1-2-3 strikes you're out
Want people to return to church? Stop the passing of the peace. A beautiful service is going on — my body and soul are really into the service — and bam. Seventh inning stretch.

Marjorie Sartori
Lindsborg, Kan.


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December issue

DECEMBER issue:

Advent: Waiting together

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