On August 15th, 2008, the United States Census Bureau announced that by 2042, not 2050 as previously projected, but by 2042 whites of European descent will become a minority in this country. Also on August 15th, the Office of the Secretary released the 2007 ELCA Congregational Report indicating that whites of European descent comprise 96.77% of the church. If trends continue, over the next 34 years the church’s membership will be less and less reflective of society.
On August 10, 2008 the Conference of Bishops' Ministry Among People in Poverty released Assessment Report of the Synod Anti-Racism Teams in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America . This report represents the most extensive research to date on the ELCA commitment to address institutional racism. The report offers clear recommendations for advancing the role of institutional leadership, building the capacity of synod anti-racism teams and for providing institutional support.
While the assessment focused synod anti-racism teams, report findings and recommendations can be applied to other areas of the ELCA. For example, How can the ELCA utilize this assessment report to build our capacity and accountability to address institutional racism? How might your congregation or synod council? The Conference of Bishops? Churchwide staff? Church Council?
To build their capacity and accountability, synod anti-racism teams met in Baltimore, Maryland, September 11-13 for At the Intersection of Race and Poverty: An ELCA Capacity Building and Network Gathering. The event brought together more than 100 current and emerging ELCA synodical anti-racism leaders from 30 synods and nine regions, one ELCA Church Council member, 11 ELCA Churchwide Organization staff and eight ecumenical partners. Five synodical bishops traveled from the DC Briefing to Baltimore for a focused dialogue on building synodical capacity to address poverty/wealth and racism.