By Melissa Ramirez Cooper, Associate Director, ELCA Publications and Public Relations
As racism remains an enduring crisis in the United States, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), is continuing her call to the 3.7 million member church to address the complexity and implications of the issue in “Confronting Racism: A Holy Yearning” – a live webcast Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. (CST). This is Eaton’s second live webcast on the topic of racism.
Among other topics, the January webcast will raise the question of the racial disparity in the U.S. criminal justice system, emphasizing the ELCA’s commitment to pray for the incarcerated, their families and communities, and those wrongly convicted, as well as to pray for law enforcers and those who work in the system. The webcast will also underscore the denomination’s declaration to name racism as a sin and highlight the ELCA’s ongoing work to eliminate racial, ethnic discrimination in the church and society.
“Racism still exits. One webcast or one call for a conversation about race in our church and society will not address this reality. We must continue our work as a church even when some other issue has grabbed the headlines. The Jan. 14, 2016 live webcast keeps the conversation going and provides an opportunity for members and congregations to go deeper in our listening and in building relationships,” said Eaton.
William B. Horne II, a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Clearwater, Fla., and a former member of the ELCA Church Council, will serve as webcast host.
ELCA members joining Eaton and Horne are Judge Yolanda Tanner, an associate judge for the Baltimore City Circuit Court; Leonard Duncan, who will share his experience of incarceration, poverty and homelessness; and Charlene Guiliani, a former police sergeant.
Duncan is a student at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP); Guiliani is a student at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa. Both are scholarship recipients of the ELCA Fund for Leaders, an endowed scholarship fund to provide tuition assistance for qualified candidates studying at ELCA seminaries. LTSP and Wartburg are two of eight ELCA seminaries.
In several public statements, the ELCA presiding bishop has called for sustained conversations about racism and racial justice, particularly in response to several events across the United States, including incidents in Charleston, S.C; Baltimore; and Ferguson, Mo. Recent incidents at some U.S. colleges and universities, such the University of Missouri and Yale University have further perpetuated the urgency in addressing racial discrimination.
“God’s intention for all humanity is that we see the intrinsic worth, dignity and value of all people. Racism undermines the promise of community and fractures authentic relationships with one another. We need to talk and we need to listen, but we also need to act,” Eaton said in a June 24 statement.
“Each of us and all of us need to examine ourselves, our church and our communities. We need to be honest about the reality of racism within us and around us,” said Eaton in a June 18 statement in response to the shooting in Charleston that killed nine people. Local authorities called the killings racially motivated.
Information about the webcast is available at www.ELCA.org/webcast, where a link to the live webcast will be embedded. A live stream also will be available at www.Facebook.com/Lutherans. Twitter handle is #ELCAConfrontRacism. ELCA members are invited to submit a question to be considered during the live webcast at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eaton’s public statements are available at http://www.elca.org/Resources/Presiding-Bishop-Messages.
The ELCA’s social statement “The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries” is available at http://www.elca.org/en/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Criminal-Justice and its accompanying study guide, “Called to Hear,” is at http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/ELCA_Criminal_Justice.pdf. The ELCA social statement “Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture” is available at www.ELCA.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Race-Ethnicity-and-Culture.
The Aug. 6 webcast featuring Eaton and hosted by Horne is available at http://www.elca.org/webcast.