The head of one of the biggest Lutheran denominations in the world is Bishop Mark Hanson, who leads the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA]. ELCA could be an ally for Ray Sandford to stop his forced electroshock, but is taking a neutral position.

ELCA Bishop Mark HansonName: Bishop Mark Hanson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA]

City/State: Headquarters is based in Chicago, but ELCA has six divisions or “Synods” in Minnesota.

Connection to Ray’s case:  ELCA “sponsors” several hundred social service agencies that use their name, including Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSSMN) which is general guardian to Ray.  While ELCA and LSSMN do not directly oversee Ray’s electroshock, these organizations could stand up and speak as allies for Ray and others who are abused by the mental health system.

The general guardian for Ray, which should be speaking out for him, is LSSMN. LSSMN’s web site says it is “owned” by the six Minnesota Synods of ELCA.

Unfortunately, a representative of Bishop Hanson says they in no way provide any “supervision” to those agencies, including

Public position on Ray Sandford’s forced outpatient electroshock: Their spokespeople say they cannot break a client’s confidentiality, but on the other hand they claim Ray is in no way, shape or form their client.

Public position in general on outpatient involuntary electroshock over expressed wishes of subject: Has refused to engage in dialogue on the social justice issues of mental health human rights violations in general, or forced electroshock in particular.

IMPORTANT NOTE: MindFreedom and Ray endorse nonviolence principles. Even if an individual or agency opposes Ray’s human rights, MindFreedom and Ray ask that any communication be civil. 


The six Minnesota Synods of the “Evangelical Lutheran Church in America” [ELCA] — which is the largest Lutheran denomination in the USA — own Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota [LSSMN], which is Ray’s court-appointed general guardian.

ELCA and LSSMN have refused to speak out for Ray.

MindFreedom has been in touch with the office of Bishop Mark Hanson, who leads ELCA. Bishop Hanson asked Ruth Reko, ELCA’s Director of Social Ministry Department, to respond to MFI. Today, Ms. Reko told MindFreedom, “Supervision is not a concept we enter into with affiliates like LSSMN or our 299 other social service agency affiliates.”

Please ask Bishop Mark Hanson, to encourage ELCA, its Synods and its agencies to engage in productive dialogue on human rights and mental health, especially involuntary electroshock.

Please e-mail to Bishop Mark Hanson here:

Sample message (your own words are best):

“Dear Bishop Hanson:

“Please engage in dialogue about human rights and mental health. I am not saying ELCA is directly in charge of anyone’s forced electroshock, but ELCA could take a stand against it. In the name of social justice, ELCA ought to have more oversight over its affiliated social service agencies that receive taxpayer funds to guard clients.

“Your name and contact info: ___________”

You may also try phoning Bishop Hanson or Ms. Ruth Reko by calling (773) 380-2700, wait for an attendant.

More information:

For links on the MindFreedom web site regarding Bishop Hanson:

The web site for the general guardian for Ray (LSSMN) states that it is “owned” by the six ELCA Synods in Minnesota. MindFreedom has contacted all six Synods (which are within ELCA’s Region 3), but none have provided a substantive reply, here they are.

Region 3 coordinator

The Rev. Craig A. Boehlke, Regional Coordinator/Coordinator for Ministry Lead
Luther Seminary
2481 Como Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108-1445
phone: (651) 649-0454 /Ext 232
fax: (651) 649-0468


The Six Minnesota Synods Within Region 3:

3D  Northwestern Minnesota Synod
Bishop Lawrence R. Wohlrabe
Concordia College
Moorhead, MN 56562-0001
phone: (218) 299-3019 /Ext 11
fax: 218) 299-3363

3E  Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
1105 E. Superior St., Upper Suite
Duluth, MN 55802-2216
phone: (218) 724-4424 Ext 121
fax: (218) 724-4393

3F  Southwestern Minnesota Synod
Bishop Jon V. Anderson
Mail: PO Box 499
Redwood Falls, MN 56283-0499
Delivery: 175 E. Bridge St.
Redwood Falls, MN 56283-1621
phone: (507) 637-3904
fax: (507) 637-2809

3G  Minneapolis Area Synod
Bishop Craig E. Johnson
122 W. Franklin Ave., Ste. 600
Minneapolis, MN 55404-2474
phone: (612) 870-3610
fax: (612) 870-0170

3H  Saint Paul Area Synod
Bishop Peter  Rogness, Church Council Bishop Liaison-Reg 3
105 W. University Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55103-2094
phone: (651) 224-4313
fax: (651) 224-5646

3I  Southeastern Minnesota Synod
Bishop Harold L. Usgaard
Assisi Heights
1001 – 14th St. NW., Ste. 300
Rochester, MN 55901-2511
phone: (507) 280-9457
fax: (507) 280-8824