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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A proposal for the church

In the past, Lutherans have proposed that the ELCA declare ending world hunger a "core conviction" or a status confessionis of the ELCA — stronger language than what was used in a 2005 memorial. Approved at the 2005 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the memorial included the statement: "By establishing the World Hunger Program, the ELCA made a core theological and ethical commitment to bringing the scandal of hunger to an end." In addition, the memorial resolved "to confront the scandal of hunger in this world as a core dimension of living out the Christian faith."

That language differed from a proposal made by 17 ELCA synods that year to declare ending world hunger a core conviction of the ELCA. "The feeling was there was no common understanding of the language ‘core conviction' and it could begin a process whereby any number of causes could be called a core conviction," said Leslie Weber Jr., associate executive director of ELCA Church in Society. "It also was felt that in the end, the declaration of a core conviction would not strengthen the ELCA's already strong commitment to hunger. Declaring a core conviction or status confessionis would be confusing and historically inaccurate for this case."

Status confessionis refers to a situation (status) in which the church declares that a particular reality threatens the truth of the gospel, meaning that people are denied hearing the word and receiving the sacraments, Weber said. "As terrible as hunger is to the person who is hungry, as repugnant to Christians as it is, and as counter to how Christ wishes us to care for the neighbor, hunger by itself does not prevent people from hearing or receiving the gospel," he said.


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