ELCA members called to pray, stand in solidarity with Baltimore residents

4/29/2015 1:00:00 PM

            CHICAGO (ELCA) – In an effort to stand in solidarity with residents of Baltimore as the unrest there continues, the Rev. Wolfgang D. Herz-Lane, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) Delaware-Maryland Synod based in Baltimore, is encouraging people of faith across the country to step outside their places of worship May 3 for a moment of silence and prayer.

            Shortly after the death of Freddie Gray, Herz-Lane and other religious leaders of the city expressed concern over Gray's death. In a public statement they appealed to "citizens of good will to remain calm" and express their "anger and frustration in peaceful and constructive ways." Herz-Lane chairs an ecumenical leaders group in Baltimore and is a member of the city's interfaith council, which includes Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders.
            "What religious leaders here want to get across is that what's happening in Baltimore has root causes," said Herz-Lane in an interview.
            "The continued challenges of poverty, race relations, unemployment and sub-standard housing (perpetuates) feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness among people here, which has then led to the despair. That is what we have seen. Preceding the rioting, there were peaceful protests – no incidence of violence until Saturday evening," said Herz-Lane. "But if we don't address these root causes, then the symptoms are not going away – symptoms being mass demonstrations and rioting."
            Congregations of the ELCA Delaware-Maryland Synod first stepped out of their church properties on April 26 to stand in solidarity with the family and friends of Gray, Baltimore's mayor, police commissioner, state's attorney and other city leaders and law enforcement officials.
            ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton has called on Lutherans to pray for peace in Baltimore. "Pray that God send us the courage and grace to come to grips with the root causes of this strife," she said on Twitter.
            According to Judith Roberts, program director for ELCA Racial Justice Ministries, the "issue of racial injustice in Baltimore is not the problem. It is only a symptom of the deeply embedded issues of racism and classism that persist within our nation. Privilege and oppression are two sides of the same coin. As long as we have institutions, policies,​ practices and attitudes that benefit and provide opportunities for white people as a whole while simultaneously denying access, opportunities and resources to people of color, the wounds of racism will continue to fester. Until we come to terms that we share a linked fate and that our lives and communities are intertwined and inseparable, we can never achieve racial unity or harmony in this country."
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.

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