The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly is meeting in New Orleans this week and racial justice is high on its agenda — including a proposal to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery.
The Churchwide Assembly will run from Monday, Aug 8 to Saturday, Aug. 13. It is the ELCA’s highest legislative body, according to a media release. Nearly 1,000 voting members will represent 3.7 million ELCA congregants. The Assembly’s racial justice work coincides with the ELCA’s plans to celebrate the Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary next year. In 1517, Martin Luther wrote The Ninety Five Theses that began the schism with the Catholic Church over what Luther saw as injustices and corrupt church practices of selling indulgences
The Churchwide Assembly’s Thursday afternoon session titled: “God’s Grace in Action” notes that there are still plenty of injustices in the world that need the church’s attention:
As the ELCA prepares to observe the 500th anniversary of the Reformation—people of color around the globe continue to suffer 500 years of oppression and marginalization. Participants will explore how influential religious documents, such as the Doctrine of Discovery, influenced colonialism and the forced removal of the indigenous peoples in the U.S. We will examine historic immigration and naturalization trends that created a nation of white privilege. What really happened after the Emancipation Proclamation? Were black people free to pursue happiness and enjoy justice for all? Or, does today’s #BlackLivesMatter confront us with a different story? What contributes to the U.S. prison population disproportionately represented by indigenous, black and brown peoples? This session will cover many of today’s current headline stories about race relations in the U.S. As a church of moral discernment, how must respond?