As Christians, God invites us to be freed in Christ through reconciled relationships with ourselves and one another. Following God’s invitation, in 1988 the ELCA made a constitutional commitment that within 10 years membership would “include at least 10 percent people of color and/or primary language other than English” within 10 years. This mandate applies to synod assemblies, councils, committees, boards and/or other organizational units. In 1991, the Church Council affirmed a strategy to achieve this constitutional goal and commended the Multicultural Mission Strategy to the 1991 Churchwide Assembly for adoption. The 1993 social statement Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture lays out the theological grounding. And most recently, the 2001 Faithful Yet Changing: The Plan for Mission in the ELCA outlines an implementing commitment to confront the scandalous realities of racial, ethnic, and cultural oppression.
In 2005, we strengthened our commitment by creating and placing the anti-racism staff position in the Office of the Presiding Bishop. The Coordinator for Anti-racism Education and Training works in close partnership with the Director for Racial Justice Ministries located in the Multicultural Ministries program unit. Together staff work to resource ELCA educational, technical and organizing needs toward becoming an anti-racist church.
The purpose of the ELCA anti-racism work is to collaboratively leverage voice, leadership and resources toward affecting structural changes so that the ELCA may fulfill its constitutional commitment in becoming less racially exclusive.
Within the ELCA, focused areas of anti-racism work and partnerships include: the Church Council; the Churchwide Organization; the Conference of Bishops; and Synods through a network of synod anti-racism teams.
ELCA anti-racism work is also done in collaboration with ecumenical partner bodies and collaboratives. These include:
Churches Uniting in Christ – Racial Justice Task Force
National Council of Churches
Ecumenical Justice Partners Network