calendar August 28, 2019 in ELCA, Faith in action

ELCA Declaration to African Descent Peoples

Acknowledging “with regret that the ELCA as an institution has and continues to contribute to racial harassment and discrimination against people of African descent through corporate action, policy, and practices,” the 2019 Churchwide Assembly formally adopted a “Declaration…To People of African Descent.” The Assembly “confess(es) and repent(s) of the Lutheran church’s complicity in four hundred years of enslavement, oppression, and marginalization of African-descent people and other marginalized populations.”

The Declaration, adopted by the ELCA Church Council in June, states:

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) apologizes to people of African descent for its historical complicity in slavery and its enduring legacy of racism in the United States and globally. We lament the white church’s failure to work for the abolition of slavery and the perpetuation of racism in this church. We confess, repent and repudiate the times when this church has been silent in the face of racial injustice. …

The ELCA trusts that repentance begins and ends with the work of a gracious God. In prayerful response to the African Descent Lutheran Association’s request for an apology, this church enters into a season of confession and lamentation. Beyond empty promises or well-meaning intentions, this church recommits to the work of racial justice, socioeconomic equity, and racial reconciliation.

“From colonial rule to this present day, racism has remained a constant. This structural racism has resulted in perpetual wage gaps, achievement gaps, and wealth gaps,” the Rev. Lamont Anthony Wells, national president of the African Descent Lutheran Association, said in receiving the apology. “And the Church, the very organization that has been called to “stand in the gap” for all of God’s people, has often expanded the gap into a larger chasm.

“If this apology is real, we must abandon our lust for oppressive power, wealth and even our own comfort for the sake of fulfilling God’s command to love others,” he said.

  • View the presentation of the Declaration and Pastor Wells’ response in the video below