“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
Click HERE to view the ELCA Bishops Respond to Recent Murders of Black Americans
A message from our Council President
A Joyful Welcome
By: Virginia Bartelt
We at St. Luke’s are known for our joyful welcome. This is part of how we define our church. In the midst of the larger community conversation regarding inclusion, we ask ourselves, in this community of faith, what it means to truly welcome others.
Our website provides an excellent summary of our beliefs as an ELCA church regarding welcome and inclusion: “Each person is created in God’s image. We respect this God-given right to dignity and, inspired by the life of Jesus, show love and compassion for all people...As Christ’s church, we value the richness of God’s creation and offer a radical welcome to all people, appreciating our common humanity and our differences. We are a church that does not view diversity as a barrier to unity. We recognize and will challenge dynamics of power and privilege that create barriers to participation and equity in this church and society – for women, people of color, minority ethnic groups, people with disabilities, people who are marginalized or living in poverty, and the LGBTQ community.” These are our beliefs, grounded in our faith, and inspired by the life of Jesus.
How do we live out this faith? What does it mean to offer a radical welcome? These are questions that we can ask ourselves individually and as a congregation. We are already engaged in the conversation. Golden Opportunities has addressed topics from child neglect and abuse to diversity and equity concerns. In our Caring Ministries, we have the opportunity, time and again, to extend love and compassion and gain in understanding of other walks. With conversation, prayer and study, we learn and grow in faith and understanding. Again, to quote from our website “Because we trust in God’s promise and understand faith to be a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, we are emboldened to embrace learning and change in our spiritual and institutional journey as church. This means we are open to new ways and willing to take risks to discover God’s plan for this church.”
Let us continue to provide the joyful welcome to others, practice the radical welcome, and be open to discovering God’s plan for St. Luke’s.
St. Luke's is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Click here for more information about the ELCA.
Mission & Vision of the ELCA
Together in Jesus Christ we are freed by grace to live faithfully, witness boldly and serve joyfully.
A world experiencing the difference God’s grace and love in Christ makes for all people and creation.
Our values are grounded in faith, in our biblical and Lutheran confessional sources and our love of God and neighbor. They speak to the way this church lives and practices our faith, and they will guide how we journey forward in Christ as church together.
Forgiveness and reconciliation – We are reconciled to God by God’s forgiving mercy. Forgiveness and reconciliation flow from what God has made us to be in Jesus Christ and what God is doing with us in the world. As a people of God, we embody forgiveness in speech, action and relationships, and our ministry in reconciliation is foundational.
Dignity, compassion and justice – Each person is created in God’s image. We respect this God-given right to dignity and, inspired by the life of Jesus, show love and compassion for all people. Through proclamation of the gospel, through worship and as servants of God working for healing and justice in the world, we uphold and seek to protect the dignity and human rights of all people.
Inclusion and diversity – As Christ’s church, we value the richness of God’s creation and offer a radical welcome to all people, appreciating our common humanity and our differences. We are a church that does not view diversity as a barrier to unity. We recognize and will challenge dynamics of power and privilege that create barriers to participation and equity in this church and society – for women, people of color, minority ethnic groups, people with disabilities, people who are marginalized or living in poverty, and the LGBTQ community.
Courage and openness to change – Because we trust in God’s promise and understand faith to be a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, we are emboldened to embrace learning and change in our spiritual and institutional journey as church. This means we are open to new ways and willing to take risks to discover God’s plan for this church.
Faithful stewardship of God’s creation and gifts – As church together, faithful stewardship is about holding to God’s purpose and ensuring the responsibilities and resources that God has entrusted to us are used with great care and with accountability to God, to each other and those served by this church.