African American/African Diaspora

Overcoming ELCA Racism with Authentic Diversity

Our nation and perhaps the wider world have arrived at a Kairos moment. The groundswell of support for “Black Lives Matter” may propel our society across the threshold to a new era of equality, justice, and multi-racial community. ELCA leadership has begun to take its own action. However, our strategy must include reversing the center of focus from the white axis.

Pursuing a More Diverse Church: A report and two reflections

This article explains the process one ELCA congregation is pursuing in order to become more welcoming to all the neighbors in their community. Reflections by the leaders of the process follow.

Church as Counter-Image to Brutality

Stunning images and stories of police brutality have rocked the United States in recent months. These images and stories—of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others—have moved the American people profoundly, but in different directions. What can the church do or say that might be meaningful in this moment? This essay argues that the church must realize its call to be a counter-image to human brutality. This essay draws especially upon Martin Luther, but with the intention of connecting Luther to a broader ecumenical tradition.

Racism, Justice, and Mercy: For Congregational Discussion

[1] One of the hardest things for congregations to do is to talk about race.  It is the hope of JLE that the following ideas for discussions or study sessions based on the articles in this issue can provide a helpful direction. [2] Ted Peters and Timothy Hoyer both wrote articles that claim that the […]

Tributes to Dr. Cheryl Angela Stewart Pero

Rev. Dr. Cheryl Stewart Pero, the second Black Lutheran woman ordained in the Lutheran Church in America, the first Black woman in the ELCA to receive a doctorate in New Testament studies, and a leading scholar, pastor, and community builder, died on October 28th, 2020.  For a woman who encouraged and empowered so many others, JLE presents two tributes in her honor.

Racial Mercy

A different way of thinking about racial justice is to work toward racial mercy. Before the difference between justice and mercy is explained, there must be an agreed upon standard that is used to discern the worth of what will be suggested. This is, after all, a theological discussion, for it is about the difference between God’s Law and God’s Promise in Jesus.

Review: Passionate for Justice: Ida B. Wells as Prophet for Our Time, by Catherine Meeks and Nib Stroupe

[1] I would love to start my review by talking about the importance of Passionate for Justice at “a time like this,” but that qualification immediately rings hollow for me. [2] Threat of danger is the traumatic, collective history and memory (and, too often, direct experience) that Black [1] and Brown people just know. To wit, Passionate for Justice co-author […]

Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the United States by Lenny Duncan

Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the United States is written by Lenny Duncan, a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Duncan was a “free-agent Christian” until he met the ELCA through an open communion table. This revolutionary symbol of grace and welcome later led […]

Review: Womanist Sass and Talk Back: Social (In)justice, Intersectionality, and Biblical Interpretation. By Mitzi J. Smith

​ [1] Scriptures and their interpretations are highly influential in forming the norms of a culture. The act of scriptural interpretation has long fallen into the hands of those who hold positions of privilege and power, yielding readings that either affirm the status quo or further benefit the privileged sectors of society. Those who are […]

Resolution in loving memory of the Rev. Dr. James Kenneth Echols

May 26, 1951 – December 22, 2018 No matter what your trials are, or how big your mountain seems; The Lord is there to see you through; To go to all extremes. So if your cross seems hard to bear, and you know not what to do; The One who loves you most of all will […]