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Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Official statements, contemporary and historical references on animals

  • Hummingbird in flight. The HSUS

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) traces its origins to the 16th century Protestant Reformation, although it achieved its current form in 1988 when three previously independent churches merged to form the largest Lutheran denomination in America.

More information about the ELCA, including the Church’s beliefs, structure, and history, can be found on their website at elca.org.

Martin Luther on animals:

"Thus Christ now speaks: …you daily see how your heavenly Father feeds the little birds in the field, without their having any care…[H]e holds them in such high esteem that he daily feeds them, as if he had only these to care for; and he takes pleasure in it, that they quite without care fly about and sing, as if they should say:  I sing and am cheerful..."

—from Martin Luther, Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, trans. Charles A. Hay (Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1892), 341 (re:  Matthew 6:26-27).

The ELCA's Presiding Bishop, Mark S. Hanson, explains that " we cannot love God or our human neighbor without caring for creation."

From Bishop Hanson:

"We cannot escape the interconnectedness of the earth’s fabric of life. Creation is the matrix of all our activities, both as human beings and as Christ’s church. God gives us and all creatures life through the water, air, food, and all the other gifts that come to us from the earth. Everything we do both depends on these gifts, and has some kind of impact upon them. If these gifts are treated with contempt and abused, people, animals, and plants suffer together. If they are graciously received and cherished, people will flourish with the rest of creation. We cannot love God or our human neighbor without caring for creation."

—Letter first published November 2003. Excerpt reprinted in ELCA, Awakening to...Earthkeeping, 11.

Find more information, including links to articles and sources, in our factsheet about the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.


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