ENGAGE is a Saint Paul Area Synod public witness committee on gun violence prevention. ENGAGE and the Saint Paul Area Synod are part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

Our mission is to meditate on, educate about, and advocate for gun violence prevention in the non-violent spirit of Jesus.

Why is the ELCA actively raising awareness on gun violence?

The ELCA has a long history of church-wide resolutions advocating for peace and encouraging church members to counter the reality and fear of violence in their communities.

  • 2013 Church-wide Assembly. In an 834 to 41 vote, the assembly voted to encourage ELCA members consistent with their bound consciences, to contact their elected officials and advocate for passage of legislation that promotes universal background checks, prevents gun trafficking, and requires the reporting of lost or stolen guns to law enforcement. The church also called upon congregations and synods to engage their members in ways to prevent suicide.
  • 2013 Church Council to affirm the church’s commitment to addressing issues of violence through worship, education, service, advocacy, and ongoing moral deliberation….to educate members of this church that more people die from suicide than die from homicide…and to lift up the ELCA social messages on suicide prevention, community violence, and mental health…and to call upon congregations and synods to engage their members on ways to prevent suicide.
  • 1995 ELCA Social Statement, “For Peace in God’s World”. Through the Holy Gospel, the Holy Spirit calls and gathers a people…to witness to the God of peace by equipping the faithful to act for peace in their communities.
  • 1994 Church Council to declare the ELCA’s stance on advocating in favor of gun control, and join with other religious communities in anti-violence initiatives that stem the proliferation of guns in our streets, schools, and homes.
  • 1993 statement on Community Violence and Gun Control to communicate to Congress and the President of the United States the urgent concern of the ELCA regarding the violence associated with the widespread availability of handguns and military assault weapons.
  • 1989 resolution on the Ban of Military-Style Semi-Automatic Weapons to study the issue of gun control and encourage elected government officials to address the management of these weapons through an outright ban or regulation of lawful sales of military-style, semi-automatic weapons.

We lament the tragedy of gun violence in our country. We are grieved by the way violence impacts our communities. In this time of public attention to gun violence, local communities of faith have a unique opportunity to strive to find a way to a better future.

Who is involved with ENGAGE?

In 2015, Saint Paul Area Synod (SPAS) Bishop Patricia Lull requested the formation of a working group to address gun violence in our congregations and communities. Members of ENGAGE include pastors, concerned parents, gun owners, and activists in our community committed to prayerfully and respectfully reducing gun violence.

Meet the dedicated members of ENGAGE:

Ron Letnes

Rev. Ron Letnes, D.Min., retired,
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church,
Circle Pines, MN

Jay Thacker, Unaffiliated

Jay Thacker,

Uwe Bilger

Uwe Bilger, Gloria Dei, Saint Paul, MN

We represent diverse backgrounds and interests. Our mission is to unite, not divide, and we want to encourage a balanced approach to gun violence prevention and gun safety. Both gun-owners and non-gun owners are represented, respected, and welcomed. ENGAGE respects and affirms gun ownership rights for hunting, sport, and personal protection. ENGAGE also recognizes how gun violence threatens and destroys life. As people of God, we confess our brokenness and affirm efforts to reduce gun violence, pursue justice, love our neighbors, be peacemakers, protect the vulnerable, and trust in Christ Jesus.

Contact us