Do Justice: August 20, 2019

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Welcome to Do Justice, a semi-monthly newsletter of the Virginia Synod, lifting up God’s call and command that we, God’s people, do justice. You will find helpful info about justice ministries in congregations, around Virginia, and through the ELCA. If you have stories of justice to share from your congregation, please share those with me at bayerderrick@vasynod.org so I can share them with others in the synod!

The Rev. Kelly Bayer Derrick
Assistant to the Bishop

Creator God, you created all humankind in your image. On Sunday, August 25, when we commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans arriving in Virginia, we repent of not seeing all your people as made in your Holy Image. We ask you to uplift and support all the descendants of slaves and to help us work for a just economic and social system, especially for those most suffering today from the continued effects of slavery, Jim Crow laws, racially motivated violence, and mass incarceration. Create in us, your church, the ability to work toward New Life together for all of your beloved children. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
-prayer from the ELCA African Descent Ministries

Resources for Commemoration

On August 25, many churches and communities will be marking this quad-centennial of “Landing Day,” a tragic event that ushered in four centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and racism which persists today. The ELCA continues to grapple with its complicity in these injustices. ( See the recently approved declaration.) The Southwest California Synod shares these liturgical resources for commemorating the 400th Anniversary of the Arrival of the First Enslaved Africans to North America. Consider using these resources on Sunday, August 25, or any time during the remainder of this year.

Churchwide Assembly Justice Focused

Gathering under the theme “We are church,” voting members of the 2019 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) made a number of key decisions to further the mission and ministry of this church. The assembly, the chief legislative authority of the church, met August 5-10 at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee.
  • Approved the social statement “Faith, Sexism and Justice: A Call to Action” and its implementing resolutions. The social statement, in part, names patriarchy and sexism as sins and calls the church to action on a range of issues, including gender-based violence, workplace discrimination and economic inequality.
  • Adopted “A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment,” which will serve as church policy for inter-religious relations. The policy statement was adopted with the witness of 39 ecumenical and inter-religious guests in attendance.
  • Adopted the “Strategy Toward Authentic Diversity in the ELCA,” which consists of a report and recommendations on how the ELCA exhibits authentic diversity and formulates goals for racial diversity and inclusion.
  • Witnessed the presentation of the “Declaration of the ELCA to People of African Descent,” which was accepted by the Rev. Lamont A. Wells, president of the African Descent Lutheran Association (ADLA), and members of ADLA.
  • Adopted 26 memorials en bloc, ranging in topics from gun violence to engagement in the Holy Land and gender identity to seminary tuition.
  • Adopted a memorial that affirms the ELCA’s long-standing commitment to migrants and refugees and declares the ELCA a sanctuary church body.
  • Adopted a memorial that calls for the development of a social statement and social message on the relationship of church and state.
  • Adopted a memorial to encourage all synods and congregations to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ELCA’s ordination of women in 2020, the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women of color in the Lutheran tradition and the 10th anniversary of the ELCA’s decision to remove barriers to ordination for people in same-gender relationships.
  • Adopted a memorial to support the vision and goals of the Poor People’s Campaign that align with the ELCA’s social teachings.
  • Adopted a resolution that committed the ELCA to support the World Council of Church’s “Thursdays in Black” campaign toward a world without rape and violence.
  • Adopted a resolution to commemorate June 17 as a day of repentance in the ELCA for the martyrdom of the Emanuel 9—the nine people who were shot and killed June 17, 2015, during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
  • Adopted a resolution to condemn white supremacy, calling all ELCA congregations to engage in a “study of the structures and rhetoric that empower and fuel racism and white supremacy and to take to heart the teaching of Scriptures, so we may all be better equipped to speak boldly about the equal dignity of all persons in the eyes of God.”
To get caught up on more from the 2019 Churchwide Assembly, check out  a synopsis of the actions taken at the 2019 CWA  formatted as a bulletin insert,  coverage provided by Living Lutheran , as well as  comprehensive video from each of the six days of the assembly  so you rewatch all the action.

Faith in Action Campaign Celebration in Harrisonburg

Muhlenberg Lutheran in Harrisonburg and Trinity Lutheran in Rockingham County are Covenant Congregations of Faith in Action I along with other members from these congregations participated in this celebration for Criminal Justice. Below is an explanation of what Faith in Action is and a summary of the event.
Faith in Action
Faith in Action is a coalition of congregations working together to effect systemic change in the Harrisonburg-Rockingham community. Bound together in strong relationships within and among our Covenant Congregations, associated groups, and beyond, we have the “people power” necessary to open minds and demonstrate significant public support for change on a given issue.
Each year, Faith in Action committees vote to take on a new campaign for change in the community. Faith in Action is committed to our guiding values:
  • Reflect and respect diversity
  • Learn and lead in joyful partnership
  • Communicate clear vision and plans
  • Strengthen congregational and community networks
  • Connect our faith traditions with local justice concerns
  • Act together for justice
To read the full article about the Faith in Action Celebration, click here.
By | 2019-10-30T10:17:43-04:00 August 20th, 2019|Do Justice, News|Comments Off on Do Justice: August 20, 2019

About the Author:

Emily is the Director of Communications for the Virginia Synod. She is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington where she earned her BA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and a minor in Digital Studies. If you have an announcement, upcoming event, or news story idea you would like to share, get in touch with Emily via email or by phone at (540) 389-1000