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 firstname.lastname@example.org so I can share them with others in the synod!
The Rev. Kelly Bayer Derrick
Assistant to the Bishop
Racist Laws Being Purged in Virginia
This past week, Virginia was in the national news again on the subject of race, with the release of initial findings from the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law.
This Commission, appointed by Gov. Northam, was prompted in part by our work this year to help pass bills by Senator Spruill (SB 1079) and Delegate Price (HB 1079) to remove racist Jim Crow-era language from Virginia’s minimum wage laws. The Governor said, “Racial discrimination is rooted in many of the laws that have historically governed our Commonwealth—identifying and eliminating racist and discriminatory language will help make Virginia more equitable for all who live and work here.”
The Commission’s report recommends that dozens of these laws be repealed. This shows the direct impact of legislative advocacy – and how one small piece of legislation can help ignite an initiative to address many racist laws.
Today’s RVA Magazine op-ed by Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy board member, Rabbi Michael Knopf, is about Virginia’s legacy of slavery. He says, “bad faith broke us, but good faith can fix us.”
Day for All People
Join the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (VICPP) on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 at the General Assembly. Join with people from around the Commonwealth for a day of advocacy at the General Assembly, meet with your legislators and learn about social justice issues. The Rev. Kelly Bayer Derrick, Assistant to the Bishop, plans to be present during this event. We will announce a meeting spot for those attending from the Virginia Synod in advance of the Day for All People.
Join our Social Media Team. Volunteers repost one message a day (Mon.-Fri. during the General Assembly) to help amplify our message. Email Roberta Oster at email@example.com.
Be a Witness at the Capitol. These volunteers serve either for one entire week or at least one day per week during the General Assembly.
For more information about the day, and to register for the event, click here.
ELCA Takes First Step in Declaration to People of African Descent
Recently, George Kegley asked me to share my thoughts about the apology, the Declaration of the ELCA to People of African Descent, that was presented and accepted at the Churchwide Assembly in August 2019.
In this apology, the ELCA recognizes and takes responsibility for this Body of Christ’s lack of fulfillment of its baptismal promises in not following the example of Jesus to strive for justice for all people (my interpretation).
It is good to confess, and it is good to receive forgiveness, but it is even better to begin to take the action steps that are needed toward full inclusion and equity for all.
When George asked me for my response, I must admit that I said, “Why me?” Oh, yeah, I was the “rostered person of color representative elected by the Virginia Synod”.
An article that I thought would be an easy task to write, has turned into an introspective look at not only my role as an ordained pastor in a predominately white denomination, but an honest and realistic look at what may be my own Synod’s struggle as well.