Social Statement on Justice and Women
by Kathye Hamm
At the 2018 Synod Assembly there will be plenary workshop time dedicated to conversation about the “Draft ELCA Social Statement on Women and Justice.” Please look for these opportunities if you are attending the Assembly.
Luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
– “We recognize patriarchy and sexism are “a mix of power, privilege, and prejudice. They prevent all human beings from living into the abundant life for which God created them.”
Quote from the Draft of the ELCA Social Statement on Justice and Women Pg. 3
For 19 years, I worked with women, children, and men who have experienced sexual and domestic violence as a developer and pastor for a not-for-profit agency that focused on the spiritual healing for people that have experienced violence. After listening to over 1,000 stories of how patriarchy* damages our lives together, I realized that rape, battering and incest are ways to hold children, women, and men enslaved without tools to break free and be their true authentic children of God. Through co-facilitating a therapy group for men who are offenders of child sexual abuse, I have concluded that power, privilege, and prejudice hurts all of us and is definitely not a component of a Godly life. With the recent #MeToo movement and the thousands of years of slavery in the form of violence toward women and children – continuing to this day, we can probably all agree that living in a broken world is painful and does not give us abundant life.
Thanks to the voices of church members throughout the ELCA, we as members now have a draft social statement on Justice and Women. This powerful, tell-it-like-it-is document provides us as individuals and faith communities a way to confirm what we believe as a denomination, and includes commitments for our future together to change our world for generations to come.
In the past two years, the congregation I serve, St. Andrews Lutheran in San Mateo, CA, has studied “Faith, Sexism and Justice: Conversations toward a Social Statement on Justice and Women” and the draft of the Social Statement on Justice and Women. These materials have given us dozens of hours of honest conversation, and my parishioners keep extending the time that we spend on this topic. It has been important for women to share their realities and for men to listen. All around the table, people have spoken about how the patriarchal system has not brought them to a life of equality between men and women that was originally created by God.
Why does this matter to us? Because women and girls continue to die due to sex trafficking, and domestic violence. Rape and incest do huge damage to our self-esteem and our ability to trust others and feel safe. Women are paid less and have fewer opportunities in the workplace. The resulting economic insecurity keeps many women in poverty or constantly struggling.
Pastor Connie Winter-Eulberg
Prayer: Spirit of Truth and Love, you are the strength of the weak and powerless. We gather as communities of faith so that we don’t have to be isolated and hopeless. Guide us, Holy Spirit so that we can work together for healing and wholeness. Together we can create a world where your Word of love shines as a beacon in the sky. Bring us comfort and hope for a peace-filled world. AMEN”
* Patriarchy: “The social, institutional, legal, political, educational, economic, religious and interpersonal systems of society that benefit men and the interests of men with status and power. While all people within a patriarchal system participate in it, the system functions with men at the center. This means that, sometimes unconsciously, people participate in systems that control and oppress people who do not fit society’s ideas of maleness and masculinity.” (pg. 58 Draft Social Statement on Justice and Women)
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