In an overwhelming vote, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery. The measure was approved by delegates attending the ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans this week. The vote Tuesday was 912-28.
The Churchwide Assembly is the ELCA’s highest legislative body and meets only once every three years. The Assembly will continue meeting through Saturday.
The final language approved by the delegates is not yet available on line. We will reprint it when we get a copy. Many ELCA synods, including the Minneapolis and St. Paul synods, approved memorials to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery and forwarded them to the Churchwide Assembly for consideration. The final language most likely will reflect these earlier drafts. Here is a link to the ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod Memorial, which read in part:
Resolved, that the 2016 Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly explicitly and clearly repudiates the European Christian-derived “doctrine of discovery” and its continuing impact upon tribal governments and individual tribal members to this day, acknowledges the unearned benefits this church has received from the evils of colonialism in the Americas, [and] repents of this church’s complicity in this doctrine …
The ELCA joins a growing list of churches and organizations which have repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, including the Episcopal Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, the World Council of Churches, the Community of Christ and the Presbyterian Church USA. (To see their statements, click here.)
Next up appears to be the Mennonite Church USA. It hopes to formally repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery next year, according to Iris de León-Hartshorn, director of transformative peacemaking for the church. “[O]ur hope is to work together to come up with a resolution for the Delegate Assembly at Orlando 2017,” she said in a May 12 Mennonite USA post. “We want the denomination to take a definitive stand against the use of the [Doctrine of Discovery].”
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