The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, met in biennial churchwide assembly in Orlando, Florida, passed a resolution submitted by 37 of its 65 synods that seeks to join the church at all levels in efforts to seek out, curb and work to eliminate bullying in church, school and society.
The assembly heard from a series of young people who have been bullied or seen the consequences of bullying. The assembly heard them speak of being attacked for physical attributes that can’t be changed, of being vilified because of their sexual orientation, of not knowing what to do when friends are bullied, and of losing a friend to a violent attack.
By a 932-23 vote, the assembly voted to “encourage new partnerships among the churchwide organization, synods, congregations, campus and outdoor ministries, Lutheran School Associations, Lutherans Concerned/North America, Lutheran Social Services organizations, public schools, counseling centers, and other governmental organizations in order to support the prevention of bullying, harassment, and other related violence.”
These partnerships are to join or create programs that utilize positive, inclusive, empowering and developmentally appropriate materials; raise participants’ awareness about the issue; focus on prevention; seek to change bystander behavior into ally behavior – that is, to stop the bullying at its source and when it happens. These partnerships are to be intergenerational, involving youth and adults, and to specifically address the use and abuse of social media as they are used to bully and harass.
Emily Eastwood, Executive Director, Lutherans Concerned/North America, said, “It was amazing to see so many young people at the microphones addressing this important issue from their particular contexts in youth groups, schools and neighborhoods. Bullying cuts through every demographic line, but victims from groups most oppressed in society at large are at particular risk. For those of us in LC/NA who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, we know first-hand the damage that bullying on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity can do. We applaud this action of the denomination in churchwide assembly and pledge our partnership and collaboration in creation of resources and trainings for congregations, youth groups, and Lutheran schools.”
The anti-bullying resources, a booklet of stories, theological reflections and devotions and the curriculum for large and small group discussion of bullying, appropriate reactions, and prevention, are available for download from www.lcna.org under the Resources tab.