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Dear Missoula neighbors and friends:

On Sunday, Feb. 17, multiple congregations of multiple denominations discovered a leaflet taped to or stuck in their entry doors. The contents of the leaflet are not worth repeating, but the message seemed clear: an invitation to Christians to join, and justify, anti-Semitic rhetoric, actions and worldviews. They sought to bear false witness against our neighbor, and to divide Missoula and those of faith and conscience from one another.

They failed.

Congregations in and around Missoula are dismayed and outraged at the appearance, once again, of anti-Semitic literature in Missoula. As Lutheran Christians, we have a particular responsibility to speak against the message contained in the leaflet. Some of the words of the recent leaflet were taken from the later writings of Martin Luther — German monk, professor and noted figure of the protestant Reformation.

We as Lutherans cannot deny the historical liability of these words, nor our past complicity in harm done to our Jewish friends and neighbors. However, the anti-Judaic writings and violent words of Martin Luther are not confessional, authoritative or accepted as a Lutheran stance or doctrine in Christian-Jewish relations.

The welfare and safety of our Jewish neighbors is sacred. Our solidarity with, service to, and regard for our neighbors is rooted in God’s love, grace and command. There is no equivocation.

The Declaration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church to the Jewish Community, adopted in 1994, concludes this way:

“Grieving the complicity of our own tradition within this history of hatred, moreover, we express our urgent desire to live out our faith in Jesus Christ with love and respect for the Jewish people. We recognize in anti-Semitism a contradiction and an affront to the Gospel, a violation of our hope and calling, and we pledge this church to oppose the deadly working of such bigotry, both within our own circles and in the society around us. Finally, we pray for the continued blessing of the Blessed One upon the increasing cooperation and understanding between Lutheran Christians and the Jewish community.”

With you, we stand as a community of love, inclusiveness and the strength of one another. 

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This column is signed by the following leaders of local Lutheran churches: Rev. Daniel Disch, Atonement Lutheran Church; Rev. John Lund, Emmaus Campus Ministry; Rev. Carol Seilhymer, First Lutheran, Plains, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Thompson Falls; Rev. Molly Sasser-Goehner, Immanuel Lutheran Church; Rev. Chris Flohr, St. Paul Lutheran Church; Rev. Eric Huseth, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Bonner; Rev. Aprille Jordan, Valley of Christ Lutheran Church, Frenchtown; and Bishop Jessica Crist, Montana Synod.

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