A Pastoral Message from Bishop Constanze Hagmaier
Dear siblings in Christ,
Grace and peace to you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!
It is that time of the year where our elected state government leaders gather in Pierre to do what we elected them to do in accordance to their powers and duties as prescribed in the South Dakota State Constitution. First, I would like to remind all of us that as people of faith we live in this world, but we are not of this world (John 17:13-19). As people that live in the world, we are called to keep our elected leaders in our prayers, regardless of whether we agree or disagree with them (Romans 13:1-6). Our prayers and our respect for our legislators and each other as siblings in Christ is our living witness to the Gospel that we are not of this world, but truly believe that through the power and hope of reconciliation in Jesus Christ, we are of one body.
Secondly, I would like to remind all of us that as people in this world we were given a distinct voice. Our democracy strongly encourages us to use our voice to uplift and uphold the laws of the land. We have different means available to us to live out this calling effectively. The intent of these laws was, and still remains, to be a nation that grants liberty, justice and freedom to all who reside in our borders regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religious or personal beliefs. As people of faith, we share these values of liberty, justice and freedom for all because Christ commands us to do so (Mark 12:28-33). We believe that each and every person’s dignity is sacred and needs to be respected as God‘s very good creation without casting judgment. It is one of our faith’s core values that no one has the right to infringe on their neighbor’s personhood and understanding of oneself. Only love will do you no wrong (Romans 13:9-10).
In closing, I urge you as a citizen of the State of South Dakota, and as a person of faith, to use your voice to speak up on behalf of your neighbor.
God’s grace and peace be with you!
In Christ’s Service,
Rev. Constanze Hagmaier
Bishop of the South Dakota Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America