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Weekly News 6/2/20

As we face so much in our nation right now, I would like to share two recent items from our denominational leaders. The first is a joint letter from Bishop Bill Gafkjen of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod and the conference minister of the Indiana-Kentucky Conference of the United Church of Christ. Following is a statement reaffirming the ELCA's commitment to combating racism and white supremacy. For many of us, it is overwhelming to consider how we might be part of moving forward in a solution. The first step is for us to confess our own part, intentionally or unintentionally, known or unknown, and then to look for a way forward. If you are interested in learning more about anti-racism work, studying together or engaging in discussions, please reach out and let me know as I am looking for ways for us to be part of this life-giving work. You can email me at As with many things, we know that the way forward may be difficult or uncomfortable, but that God goes with us every step of the way. In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord, Pastor Lecia


May 29, 2020 Dear Friends, Today we write to you with a heavy heart. The events of the past several weeks and months with racial violence and brutality in our country has been both tragic and overwhelming. As both a Bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and a Conference Minister in the United Church of Christ sharing the same geographies of service in Indiana and Kentucky, we both wanted to join our collective voices in this moment. In recent days we have seen alarming trends of racial violence from two white men murdering Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, a police officer placing his knee on the neck of George Floyd in Minnesota, a drive by shooting of a mosque and the killing of Dreasjon Reed in Indianapolis and Breonna Taylor being killed as she slept in her Louisville apartment. The continual harming of black bodies raises to our awareness a need for us to speak out and say “No More” to this hate and harm to our siblings in the human family. As people of faith, we believe in a beloved community, where no matter who you are and where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome and ought to feel safe. When a person of color cannot jog, sleep, or pray without harm coming to them, then we must find a way to change as a society. As people faith, we have a different narrative to share in the world than the one that is currently on display. We are people who are called to “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” We are called upon to say as Paul indicates in 1 Corinthians 12 “The eye can’t say to the foot, ‘I have no need of you.’” No, we are all members of the body, all members of the human family, created in the beautiful image of our beloved Creator. Yet, the continual harming of people of color seems to suggest that we are saying “we have no need of you.” This is not our narrative as Christians. We are all children of God and we are, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality, a single garment of destiny.” This means that, as Paul writes, “When one member suffers we all suffer and when one member rejoices we all rejoice.” Today, we mourn and grieve with the Arbery, Floyd, Reed, and Taylor families and with all of our communities of color. We ask as your Bishop and Conference Minister that we all extend beyond our praying and begin to do the hard work of dismantling racism. It is hard work. For those of us who are white, it means coming into awareness of our biases and privilege. It means standing with others whose lives experience the trauma of racial violence. It means a willing heart to humbly learn. We will soon be inviting you to join us in a joint effort across two denominations to embrace this hard work together. We will have conversations across our churches and we will discern together how to develop strategies of advocacy that can address these historic and ongoing injustices in our world. We pray for God’s healing and justice to roll down like an ever-flowing stream, so that there may by peace. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with each of us. Sincerely,

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What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8). The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) reaffirms its commitment to combating racism and white supremacy following the recent murders of Black Americans. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, and George Floyd were our neighbors. Ahmaud Arbery was chased down, shot and killed by a retired police officer and his son while jogging in Brunswick, Ga. (Feb. 23, 2020). Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was shot eight times by Louisville Metro Police Department officers who entered her apartment while serving a "no-knock warrant" (March 13, 2020). Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, a 21-year-old from Indianapolis died after being shot at least eight times by an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer (May 6, 2020). George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis while begging for his life, a block away from Calvary Lutheran, an ELCA congregation (May 25, 2020). As the Conference of Bishops, we condemn the white supremacy that has led to the deaths of so many unarmed Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color in our country. We grieve with, pray for and stand in solidarity with the families and friends of all whose loved ones have been and continue to be victims of injustices run amok, racist violence and the insidious venom of white supremacy. The ELCA’s social policy resolution, “Condemnation of White Supremacy and Racist Rhetoric,” adopted by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, states: “As persons called to love one another as God has loved us, we therefore proclaim our commitment to speak with one voice against racism and white supremacy. We stand with those who are targets of racist ideologies and actions.” As church, together we must work to condemn white supremacy in all forms and recommit ourselves to confront and exorcize the sins of injustice, racism and white supremacy in church and society and within ourselves as individuals and households. On May 21, the ELCA Southeastern Synod hosted a webinar: “Becoming the Body of Christ – Condemning White Supremacy” in response to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. This is one of many strategic opportunities happening across this church to address white supremacy and racist rhetoric. On June 17, we will gather again as church to commemorate the Mother Emanuel 9 and to repent of racism and white supremacy. An online ELCA prayer service, including leaders from across the church and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton as preacher, is being planned for June 17, 2020, marking the fifth anniversary of the martyrdom of the Emanuel 9. We encourage congregations to reaffirm their commitment to repenting of the sins of racism and dismantling white supremacy that continue to plague this church by marking this day of penitence with study and prayer leading to action. The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton - Presiding Bishop and the whole conference of Bishops

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