The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a predominantly white denomination whose structure includes five official ethnic associations for African Americans, Native Americans and Alaskans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Latinos, and those of Arab and Middle Eastern heritage, decided in 2006 that it needed one more group.
A federal immigration raid with arrests of about 390 people at a meat processing plant in Postville, Iowa, has brought “devastation” to the community, said a Lutheran bishop at an ecumenical prayer service at a Catholic church in nearby Waterloo.
While it can’t cut back on travel for church business, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has indicated, it hopes to elevate its ecological modeling to make up for the heavy environmental cost of air travel.
“The Church’s Unfinished Sexual Revolution” was the title of an article in the spring 2006 issue of Yale Divinity School’s Reflections magazine. In it longtime Christian ethicist James B. Nelson described some progress in church thinking about sexual ethics, but contended that the church’s agenda on sexuality remains “confusing, unsettled, unfinished.”
The nation’s largest Lutheran denomination has issued election-year guidelines for congregations and outlined seven issues, from hunger to health care, that reflect the church’s emphasis on social justice.
For years, the largest U.S. Lutheran denomination has avoided some of the rancor over the issue of same-sex relationships that has divided the Episcopal Church and, to a lesser extent, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Methodist Church.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America saw a slight drop in membership in 2006, continuing a trend of decline since the 1990s. The total of baptized members at the end of last year was 4,774,203—a 1.6 percent decrease from the 2005 total of 4,850,776, denominational officials said.