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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 182,077 baptized members in 624 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches.
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A NEWS RELEASE
From the Office of the Bishop
Winnipeg, September 14, 2001 (ELCIC) -- Rev. Telmor Sartison, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) and Rev. Raymond Schultz, National Bishop-Elect, have issued a joint letter to members of the ELCIC expressing their concern over reports of threats and violence directed at Muslims, Arabs and Jews living in Canada in the aftermath of the events of September 11th. They call for ELCIC members to counteract such reaction with prayer and by reaching out to their Jewish and Muslim neighbours with expressions of concern and support.
The text of their letter follows.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Three days ago we wrote to you concerning the events of September 11th, the devastation caused by terrorist actions in New York and Washington. We encouraged you to "pray for our sisters and brothers who are in the forefront of this disaster" and to pray "for peace with justice for all people." Using the imagery from Micah we added, "We must pray and work beyond this story into a new story where people shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks."
We must add to our prayers and our spirit of response locally, nationally and internationally another dimension.
One of the offspring of terrorism is the desire for revenge. The anger and self-righteousness driving the desire for revenge becomes as indiscriminate as the terrorist act itself and is in fact a new act of terrorism, an offspring of the first. One horrible act begets another.
The news carries daily the speculation about countries of origin for these cells of violence. In the terrible economy of retribution, driven by human pain and a sense of loss, response in kind is seen by some as justified.
In such an environment innocent people suffer. They are molested, threatened, injured and terrorised in the name of justice. They are targets of a natural response of anger; but anger does not justify such action. They are targets because of race, religion, colour, culture or whatever associations are made between them and the persons either responsible or assumed responsible for the devastation.
We have already read of threats and attacks upon people of Moslem persuasion and Arab background. We have already heard that in some places Jewish synagogues are once again targets of violence.
Let us not respond to September 11th with our own indiscriminate and terrible violence. We cannot in the name of justice threaten their wellbeing or take the lives of people. To do so would be to act as diabolically with our power - whether personally in our community or internationally with NATO - as the terrorists did with their "power."
Therefore, we call upon you, the members of this church, to pray for one another, for the people at the forefront of the disaster, for leaders in government and church, for children, men and women in your communities. Pray that God will give us the wisdom to act with grace and the rule of law rather than the rule of passion and angry promise. Pray for personal wisdom. Pray for the neighbour who wants to strike out in anger. Pray for the neighbour who is threatened. Pray that our communities, whether local or international, will find the God given way through this time of the devil's opportunity, to healing, justice, peace, international accord and understanding.
We also call upon pastors and other leaders in this church to take whatever measures they can to help our members to respond appropriately to this tragedy and to reach out to their Jewish and Muslim neighbours with expressions of concern and support.
We must continue to pray and to work to fulfil Micah’s vision that swords be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.
Rev. Telmor Sartison
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Rev. Raymond Schultz
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada