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Rev Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada writes a regular column for each issue of Canada Lutheran.

ELCIC congregations are welcome to republish this material in their church publications. Please acknowledge its original publication by including the credit line:

Canada Lutheran, Month, Year, Volume# and Issue#


A Preferential Option for the Poor
Our emphasis on Compassionate Justice lives this out.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus demonstrated a preferential option for the poor. In Matthew 25, Jesus defines the behaviours of the righteous in this way: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. He goes on to say, Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.

Currently 4.8 million people struggle to make ends meet, to pay their rent, feed their families, and address basic needs. That is one in seven Canadians.

What does this mean for us as a church In Mission for Others?

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) lives out this preferential option for the poor through our emphasis on Compassionate Justice, one of four strategic directions of our church.

Part of this strategy includes ways we work to reduce and advocate to end poverty in our country and around the world. We do this with our Global Mission partners in Peru and Argentina. We do this through our work with Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) internationally and through the ELCIC’s Compassionate Justice Initiatives in the synods.

We do this in partnership with Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. We do this in partnership with the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) and in particular their Commission on Justice and Peace. And we do this with our full communion partner, The Anglican Church of Canada, as we live out our Joint Assembly commitment on homelessness and affordable housing.

A number of our partners and other like-minded organizations have worked together to create Dignity for All: A National Anti-Poverty Plan For Canada. The report makes recommendations in six policy areas: income security, housing and homelessness, health, food security, early childhood education and care, and jobs and unemployment.
It calls upon the federal government and all major parties to make commitments for a national anti-poverty plan especially as we prepare for a federal election later this year. You can find out more information about the plan here:

The CCC is organizing a Justice Tour this spring with the theme “All that’s in the world is the Lord’s.” The 25 members of the CCC, of which the ELCIC is a member, believe Psalm 24, which sings that the earth is the Lord’s and all that’s in it, the world, and those who live in it. Thus, our work of service towards social and environmental justice is a reflection of our love of God.

The Justice Tour has been designed to encourage our faith communities to listen, learn, reflect and act throughout 2015, to manifest our faith in and love of God, God’s creation and all God’s creatures.
The Justice Tour focuses on two priority issues: climate justice and ending poverty in Canada.

I’m excited to be participating in the Justice Tour. I hope that I will be able to meet with many of you to discuss these important issues and to hear what your concerns are for our church, our partners and our country.
This is not just a political issue. This is not just a justice issue. This is a discipleship issue. How we are called to live out our faith in our daily lives? How does your discipleship, and the discipleship of your congregation, live out this preferential option for the poor?

For further information on Justice Tour 2015, visit and consider marking the following dates of the tour on your calendar:

            •  April 13—Vancouver
            •  April 14—Edmonton
            •  April 15—Saskatoon
            •  April 16—Winnipeg
            •  May 10–13—TBA (Halifax, Montreal and Ontario)


Canada Lutheran, Mar 2015

Rev. Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada writes a regular column for each issue of Canada Lutheran.