Lutheran Ethicists Gathering

AM Materials:

Government and Civic Engagement in These Times: Lutheran Reflections

Lutheran Ethicists’ Network Gathering 2020

January 8 (evening) and 9 (full day)

At the Renaissance Downtown, Washington, D.C.


Questions about government and the relation of the church to the state continue to sharpen with each passing year. While in D.C. it seems appropriate to probe what Lutheran are or should be saying.  Join us!

Contact Heather Dean for more information and to register.

Program Description:

The social context today is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.  In that context the social dynamics of pluralism, secularism and nationalism, among others, weave fresh tensions and questions around perennial questions of the relation of church and state, of Christians and government.  The tensions and questions are multiple, splayed across media headlines.  For example: Should government be large or small? Should the federal government encourage religious providers of social services? In short, the arena of church-state relations appears in great flux.

In 2003 the Department for Studies (predecessor to the current desk for Theological Ethics) published Church and State, a state-of-the-art ELCA investigation of the meaning of religion in public life for Christians attentive to the Lutheran tradition.  That anthology explored classical sources of Lutheran political theology but also reclaimed neglected resources.  It has provided important insights and support for many, ranging from the arenas of scholarship to advocacy.  However, the ELCA never has developed a social teaching document on church and state. 

This year’s Lutheran Ethicists’ Gathering will invite several scholars and practitioners to assess the resilience of Lutheran political theology on church in state in light of contemporary tensions and question.  The presentations will range from a look at historical sources to realities in the world of advocacy.

While their reflections will not be dedicated to a single question, each presenter also will be asked to suggest answers to a pending question.  That is, when the ELCA develops a social statement on church and state, what should it address?  What themes, resources, and questions should be front and center?  This gathering will provide opportunities for question and answer with presenters but also emphasize breakout sessions among participants that are dedicated to the same question.  While it will have no formal authority, a goal of this year’s gathering is to provide a working list of answers to that question.


Amy Reumann, Director for Advocacy, ELCA: Thinking about contemporary needs for advocacy from Lutheran sources.

Robert Tuttle, Ph.D., Professor to Religion & Law, George Washington University: Some Lutheran Reflections on Current Issues in US Church-State Law.

Yang Myung Su, Ph.D., Professor of Christian Studies, Ewha Womans University: A presentation focused on Luther’s political theology of church and state.