June 2, 2020
A Letter from St. Luke’s Pastors on Racism, White Privilege, and the Response of Our ELCA Bishops.
Dear St. Luke’s Members and Friends,
During the past weeks (and months) we have witnessed how Black Americans and others who are non-white have been mistreated again for their race or the color of their skin. With the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, this injustice and inhumane action has reached its breaking point. As your acting pastors, we want to confess our own complicity in so often not speaking out about racism or acknowledging that we are part of a people who have special privilege. In being a part of the greater Madison community, we know that racism and white privilege are alive and well in our midst. We need to do more to educate ourselves and the people we serve in how to become aware of, and admit, our own racism and prejudice. We need to use deep learning to change ourselves and to counteract cooperation in racism in our prevailing white privileged culture.
St. Luke’s leadership stands with us in acknowledging the need to address racism in our setting. When the Church Council and staff met in late February to plan together for the coming year, we made this one of our continuing initiatives. St. Luke’s council has been working to address diversity and inclusion for some time, albeit in quieter ways such as education and programs. The Council is committed to including the greater diversity of all people in our ministry. Education continues to be the starting point, and so our council is presently studying a book which addresses racism written by an ELCA pastor.
Eventually we want to share not only education with and for all, but work on these issues. The Covid 19 virus has paused our plans for the entire congregation at this point, though the learning and growing continues in the Council. As pastors we highly endorse the direction of this work, and look forward to working with you. We consider this to be an important part of the future of St. Luke’s.
So, good people of God, “we stand with the bishops and presiding bishop of the ELCA in our 'commitment to combating racism and white supremacy. 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.’” (Presiding Bishop Eaton, May 29, 2020, “ELCA Reaffirms Commitment to Combat Racism and White Supremacy”)
Please read the attached statements of South-Central Synod of WI Interim Bishop Peter Rogness and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. Let us inform ourselves about Emanuel 9 (in Bishop Eaton’s statement), avail ourselves of the resources (https://www.elca.org/emanuelnine) and participate in turning back racism and its effects wherever we encounter them. It will be most important for us to not only do individual learning, but to participate in conversation on the issues and the materials within our families and circles of influence.
Pastor Roger Black Pastor Jerry Tews