Young, Gifted, and Black in the ELCA

Young, Gifted, and Black in the ELCA November 25, 2018

The most and least racially diverse U.S. religious groups

Let’s call a thing what it is. The denomination in which I serve (the ELCA) is one of the whitest Christian denominations in the United States.

Statistically, we’re as lacking in racial diversity as a few other denominations like the United Methodists and Episcopalians, and overall, mainline Protestant churches are much less diverse than the U.S. population.

But by any measure, we’re on the far end of the spectrum.

We could talk about why so many Lutherans look like they descended from northern Europeans, because much of it is related to migration history.

Or we could talk about geography. If you look at maps, Lutherans are especially to be found in rural areas of our country, and the ethnic diversity of rural communities (especially in the midwest) is not unlike the ethnic diversity of our denomination.

But a lot of the racial divide in our denomination has to do with straight up power and privilege and prejudice. And for this, we’re called to repentance. As a denomination we’re called to take responsibility for our complicity in institutional racism.

How can we do that? Well, it doesn’t hurt if you start with simply declaring publicly as a church that #blacklivesmatter. Take a stand. Engage in racial equity training. Develop relationships with churches across the racial divide.

But it also helps to remember that although the ELCA is predominately white, it isn’t exclusively white. And in fact some of our most creative leaders, some of the most gifted folks in our entire denomination, are black. And they’re gifted. And their story can inspire everyone considering a call to ministry. In fact, hearing their story can help all of us think differently about this church.

So check out this video produced by my friends over at Ankos Films. They teamed up with co-director and producer, the Rev. Lenny Duncan, to tell the story of gifted black leaders in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) –– feat. seminarians Tamika Jancewicz and Kelsey Brown.

You’re going to want to share this video with everyone you know. Send the link to those considering ministry.  Watch the video in your congregation. Post it in your social media groups. Be inspired by what young, gifted black (and queer) leaders know about Jesus and the ways they share the faith so freely and powerfully.

Thanks to ANKOSfilms, committed to (a) (n)ew (k)ind (o)f (s)torytelling.


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