Dennis Frado directs the Lutheran Office for World Community based in New York City. The advocacy office monitors the work of the United Nations.
Among the current staff of the ELCA engaged in advocacy I definitely qualify as a “gray hair”. Yes, the hair still left on my head is increasingly gray, but I’m really talking about having done this kind of work off and on for the past thirty-five or so years.
But the fact of the matter is Lutherans in the United States have been formally engaged in public policy advocacy since shortly after the Second World War II when the National Lutheran Council decided to establish an office in Washington, DC. The Rev. Dr. Robert E. van Deusen oversaw that work for more than 25 years before he retired in the mid-1970s.
Over the years the “Office for Public Relations” evolved from a stance of “eyes and ears” for the national Lutheran leadership to one of a more comprehensive public witness of the church to society as it carries out God’s mission and ministry in this nation and the world.
Through this work, Lutheran leaders then, as today, have affirmed that “The witness of this church in society flows from its identity as a community that lives from and for the gospel. Faith is active in love; love calls for justice in the relationships and structures of society. It is in grateful response to God’s grace in Jesus Christ that this church carries out its responsibility for the well-being of society and the environment.” (The Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective).
That’s why we are engaged in advocacy in Washington D.C., in state capitols, with corporations, and here with the United Nations. I am grateful for the privilege of serving our church in this way.