Open Letter to the Presiding Bishop & Conference of Bishops of the ELCA

December 23, 2021

An open letter to the presiding bishop and the Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

We have been watching the situation unfold in which great harm was done to the Mision Latina Luterana congregation, Pastor Nelson Rabell-Gonzales and staff members of the Sierra Pacific Synod. Our hearts are breaking along with Asociación de Ministerios Latinos de la ELCA, African Descent Lutheran Association, and Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (links to their recent statements on this situation).

How Strategic and Authentic is our Diversity; A call for Confession, Reflection and Healing Action (Authentic Diversity) was adopted by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 2019. We support the recommendation on page seven of that document to “Encourage individuals to report instances of oppression, exclusion, etc. to a designated person outside their system who will document and facilitate resolution.” This recommendation points towards a process involving persons outside of a synod to assist with such grievances. We encourage the Sierra Pacific Synod and/or the Office of the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA to utilize such a process in a thorough and impartial way to address the harm done to Misión Latina Luterana, Rev. Nelson Rabell-Gonzales, and anyone else negatively affected by the current situation.

We join the lament of the many who have shared stories of harm done within synods and by bishops who have had no place to bring their grievances. In the executive summary on page one of this Church’s Authentic Diversity document there is a call for “structural accountability to deepen the intentional focus of ELCA policies, governance, related structures, agencies, land organizations, so that they might service the goals and initiatives of an authentically diverse church in society”. The time is past due to follow these recommendations because the church keeps hurting People of Color and Black and Indigenous people.

• We seek to dismantle the evil of white supremacy which is insidious and lives in us and our institutions.

• As individual EDLARJ board members we work to dismantle white supremacy out of ourselves.

• To change anything, both individuals and institutions need to be actively anti-racist. We call for processes grounded in transformative justice that provide for both accountability and healing.

• Our goal is collective liberation which eliminates white supremacy rather than eliminates or “cancels” people.

• We support constitutional and structural changes to live into the church’s call for Authentic Diversity.


The European Descent Lutheran Association for Racial Justice Board

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