Thursday, December 29, 2016

2017: Which Way for the Church? Anti-Racism? or Comfort?

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) -- and other US denominations -- can and should choose to emphasize anti-racism work in 2017. (I think it is a critical moment.)

From @scarry:
What if we all did a personal inventory of how our "personal
success story" was built on white privilege? #ELCAcwa

(Image: ELCA presiding bishop Rev. Elizabeth Eaton and quote:
"When my dad came back from the war, the GI bill meant he and
my mom could get a low interest loan. That was not available to
African American veterans. That's white privilege. It's baked into
the system. Now, we didn't create it, but if we don't work to
change it, we are complicit."

The tweet shown above was very heavily shared when I posted it during the churchwide assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) this past summer.

I have been very hopeful that the Church -- Lutheran and other denominations -- will be a leading force in working against racism. (If not the leading force.)

Some of the things I've written:

How Might the White Church "Die to 'Whiteness'"?

"Personal Success Story"? "White Privilege"? or Both?

Can "Lutheran" Be a #BlackLivesMatter Denomination?

Decolonize Lutheranism -- A Northern California Installment

At the same time, I think there's a lot in the Church that makes it just want to turn its back on the world and seek comfort. I think that impulse is acute as 2016 draws to a close.

Which will it be?

From where I sit, it seems that the choice to emphasize anti-racism work is a matter of life and death for the Church.

My personal belief is that it will require a choice by the entire membership -- and not just isolated acts of leadership by a few people in the churchwide office, or a handful of charismatic pastors. It certainly can't be left to a few stalwarts on the "Social Justice" committee.

It needs to be the work of the whole Church.

The Church, after all, is the people.

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