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ELCA Board Appoints Task Force on Education

Mar 05, 2003 09:58 AM EST

CHICAGO -- The board of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Division for Church in Society (DCS) appointed 15 members to a task force that will help the church develop a social statement on education. At its meeting here Feb. 20-22, the DCS board also made provisions for one or two more task force members, as well as advisors and staff.

The ELCA Churchwide Assembly in August 2001 called for the development of a social statement on education. DCS is responsible for conducting studies and developing the church's social statements for consideration by a churchwide assembly.

The board named these members to the ELCA Task Force on Education:

+ Dr. Robert Benne, director, Center for Religion and Science, Roanoke College, Salem, Va.;

+ Dr. Marcia Bunge, associate professor of Theology and Humanities, Christ College, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind.;

+ Louise Burns, retired public school teacher, Los Angeles;

+ Rev. Michael Domenech, vice president for religious affairs, Inter- American University of Puerto Rico, San Juan;

+ Dr. Paul Dovre, retired president, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn.;

+ Dr. Richard J. Kraft, professor of education emeritus, University of Colorado at Boulder;

+ Christi Lines, principal, St. Paul's Lutheran School, Waverly, Iowa;

+ Marlene Lund, director, Lutheran Schools Association, New York;

+ Dr. Susan W. McArver, director, Center on Religion in the South, Columbia, S.C.;

+ Anne Fretwell Schmidt, physical education and health teacher, Kent Junior High School, SeaTac, Wash.

+ Dr. Barry Smith, hearing officer, Office of Dispute Resolution, Department for Education, Chambersburg, Pa.;

+ Rev. Harold Usgaard, bishop, ELCA Southwestern Minnesota Synod, Rochester, Minn.;

+ Dr. Emily Van Dunk, research director, Public Policy Forum, Milwaukee;

+ Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase, research astronomer, Adler Planetarium, and research scientist, The University of Chicago; and

+ Rev. Jean A. Zietlow, pastor, First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Tulsa, Okla.

Usgaard's appointment was at the recommendation of the ELCA Conference of Bishops.

The Rev. Rosa M. Key, Tabernacle Lutheran Church, Philadelphia, will serve as the DCS board's advisor to the task force. The board of the ELCA Division for Higher Education and Schools will appoint a campus minister as an advisor.

The Rev. Kaari Reierson, associate director for studies, and the Rev. John R. Stumme, director for studies, will staff the task force for DCS.

Three staff consultants were also named to assist the task force:

Mark E. Carlson, director, Lutheran Office of Public Policy, Sacramento, Calif.; Diane Monroe, associate director for Christian education, ELCA Division for Congregational Ministries; and Dr. Leonard G. Schulze, executive director, ELCA Division for Higher Education and Schools. Conversation during the board meeting included questions about asking a student to serve as a task force member. The Rev. Timothy J. Swenson, Alexander/Arnegard Parish, Arnegard, N.D., also asked that staff consider adding people to the task force with expertise in home schooling and charter schools.

The board decided to ask staff "to give serious consideration" to adding a student, as well as a parent with a school-age child attending a public school in an economically deprived neighborhood. In October, the DCS board defined the purposes of the possible social statement:

+ present a Lutheran vision of education for our time;

+ address issues of education and schooling for children and young people in our society, with attention to purpose and quality, equity and access for all, responsibilities, and religion's role in public schooling;

+ set forth an understanding of our church's own educational institutions (preschool, primary and secondary schools, and colleges and universities); and

+ consider our church's ministries in relation to public schools and universities and the vocation of Christians involved in education in different roles.

"Listening posts" next summer will act as hearings across the church. Study materials will be available in 2005, and the first draft of a possible social statement should be ready by 2006. The ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 2007 is to consider the proposed statement on education.

By Albert H. Lee
chtoday_editor@chtoday.com