ELCA aims to be 'peacemakers in a culture of violence'

(Photo Credit: ELCA)The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, delivers a pastoral message in a video released on January 17, 2013.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has made a commitment "to being peacemakers in a culture of violence," said the head of the denomination in a pastoral message.

"As long as a culture of violence is holding us captive, our spirits, our imagination, our debates, our actions, then we have work to do," he said.

He said the church in its social statements had promised to embraced "victims of violence who need to speak of their pain and lingering fears and who need to hear the word of new life that brings healing and hope."

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Jesus' words of promise mean we have work to do," ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson said in a message released on Thursday.

The bishop referred to ongoing societal problems including gun violence in schools, domestic violence and images of violence as entertainment. He also spoke of issues like mental illness, persecution on the basis of faith, and consumptive living leading to damage to the environment.

"It is the work of peacemaking, of reconciling relationships and restoring communities. For this you have been marked with the cross of Christ. The cross and resurrection have broken the cycle of violence freeing us for God's future for one another," he added.

In the message he also asked that the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King be honored, remarking on his non-violent approach.

Hanson noted the Reverend had said that approach "does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect. It calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had. May it be so for us."

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