A Conversation Around Gender and Justice

On Sunday, I got to talk to members of Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Denver about the Draft Social Statement on Women and Justice and my soul is on fire -- in the best way. Around 30 people sat with me to discuss the document and issues surrounding gender justice. What was the best part? They cared. They asked questions and wanted to know more.

Back at Wartburg College, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to be part of a student-led group that was reviewing the document. I went to my first meeting without prior knowledge that social statements even existed in the ELCA, and I came out changed. Our group of students consisted of men, women, people who are gender nonconforming, people who are transgender, people of various religions and folks of diverse, intersecting identities. Needless to say, we had some great conversations. My colleague, a member at Our Savior's, made the connection and invited me to host an adult forum, so that's how this opportunity came about.

I struggle with the social statement because I want it to be a strict policy, meaning the Church would have to enforce equal representation at all levels of leadership and membership. However, the beauty of the ELCA is that there are such freedoms; one person's beliefs on a particular topic might look very different from another's, but in leadership we are all oriented toward the same goals. 

I wish everyone could have been at the forum to hear what we talked about, because difficult (and sometimes uncomfortable) topics came up: the differences between gender and sex (as a noun), the history of the social statement, whether or not the statement matters, toxic masculinity, the fact that men are also influenced by patriarchy and sexism, the need for a human rights framework, person-first language and Galatians 3:28 (to name a few). We were lucky to have a gracious crowd of folks all truly interested in the social statement and concerned for its success -- the crucial conversations would not have been possible otherwise.

A major purpose of social statements such as this one is to generate conversation, and it's working. They are tools to inform and equip the church and its members, and that's what we're doing (and it feels so dang good).

- Intern Katie