Five hundred years ago Martin Luther set out to reform the Roman Catholic Church. But his focus wasn't just on the church; Luther also created a new approach to service which laid the foundation for the work we do today.
Luther argued that because we are saved by grace, in gratitude, we are free to serve others. Together with the Wittenberg Council he established the Common Chest, which was essentially the first social services agency in Europe. The Chest provided funds to assist orphans, women and children, paid for education and vocational training and provided medical services.
The idea was that service was not about giving charity to the poor, but about helping people avoid poverty in the first place. Today we call this work Lutheran social ministry.
Lutheran social ministry grew significantly in the United States after the Civil War. Today there are over 300 Lutheran social ministry organizations in the country-including Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest.
That call for Christians to care for all is as relevant today as it was 500 years ago-and will remain relevant in the years ahead. Because while society has advanced, solving the problems of poverty and health care are no less complex.
As we prepare to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation I am writing to share two new tools that tell the story of Lutheran social ministry and highlight its roots in the Reformation.
Click below to download:
Please share these materials with your contacts and networks-the brochure is a good educational tool; while the video is an inspiring overview of our history.
Thank you to Lutheran Services in America for creating these materials!