ELCA ANTIRACISM RESOURCES2021-10-13T10:29:42-07:00

ELCA Resources

ELCA Racial Justice Ministries. When we confront racism and move toward fairness and justice in the church and society, we all benefit. We begin to understand that each of us has a unique story, and we are all part of a larger, rich story that makes up the ELCA.

ELCA Racial Justice Blog

ELCA Racial Justice Resources. This resource page provides a visual way to explore and download the many types of resources available from the ELCA.

ELCA Anti-racism Pledge

Declaration to American Indians and Alaska Native People

In October 2021, the ELCA has released “A Declaration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to American Indian and Alaska Native People.”

The Doctrine of Discovery created a theological framework that supported racism, colonialism, and the annihilation of Indigenous people. Today it continues to support those evils and injustices found in our church, U.S. law, and legal interpretation. The Doctrine of Discovery has been pervasive throughout the world and has benefited the Church and ELCA Lutherans in every way, which requires us to address our own context in the United States and the Caribbean as well as how our U.S. economic interests have exacerbated life internationally. Further, the Doctrine of Discovery is not simply a historical document and is not only about the past. Rather, it is indeed about our present, and impacts the future.

The declaration includes a pledge to three groups: Indigenous ELCA communities, Indigenous communities in the U.S., and non-Indigenous ELCA communities. Each pledge focuses on doing more to understand the doctrine, the church’s role in perpetuating it and how to partner with Native organizations to end the harmful effects of the doctrine and become stronger advocates for Indigenous communities throughout the U.S. The declaration ends with an understanding that accomplishing its goal to actively and fully repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery will take more than words; it will take tangible action to undo the damage created since the late-15th century.

The declaration is a direct result of the social policy resolution “Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery,” which was passed by the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.


On June 27, 2019, the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted the following declaration as a statement addressed to people of African descent.

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and
female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) apologizes to people of African descent for its historical complicity in slavery and its enduring legacy of racism in the United States and globally. We lament the white church’s failure to work for the abolition of slavery and the perpetuation of racism in this church. We confess, repent and repudiate the times when this church has been silent in the face of racial injustice. The ELCA acknowledges that slavery created and perpetuated racism, a truth this nation and this church have yet to fully embrace. The enslavement of Africans was based on a false narrative of the racial inferiority and the demonization of black people by the majority culture. Slavery was supported by white religious, legal, political, and scientific leaders and institutions for social, political, and economic gain. During the 246-year transatlantic slave trade, which began in 1619, an estimated 12 million people from Africa were stolen from their native lands, separated from their families, torn from their culture, killed for seeking freedom, tortured through inhumane forms of punishment, and subjected to lifetimes of captivity. While the white church stood silently by, people of African descent resisted through acts of rebellion, created new expressions of spirituality and Christian practice rooted in African traditions, and organized movements for freedom.

The ELCA teaches that racism is sin and that racism denies the reconciling work of the cross. Rooted in slavery, racism is manifested through the history of Jim Crow policies, racial segregation, the terror of lynching, extrajudicial killings by law enforcement, and the disproportionate incarceration of people of color. Descendants of formerly enslaved Africans are still denied equal access and opportunity in church and society while white people collectively benefit from unequal access, opportunity, and power. Institutional racism currently exists in the ELCA through discriminatory treatment within the call process; inequitable compensation of clergy of color; racial segregation; divestment from black communities and congregations; systemic polices and organizational practices; and failure to fully include the gifts of leadership and worship styles of people of African descent.

The ELCA trusts that repentance begins and ends with the work of a gracious God. In prayerful response to the African Descent Lutheran Association’s request for an apology, this church enters into a season of confession and lamentation. Beyond empty promises or well-meaning intentions, this church recommits to the work of racial justice, socioeconomic equity, and racial reconciliation. This apology is a recommitment to the process of right and equitable relations within this church, and the flourishing of Christ’s church universal. This recommitment means working toward a deeper understanding of slavery and its legacy, of institutional and structural racism, of white privilege, and of attitudes and foundations of white supremacy. It means praying for the renewal of this church as disciples of the living Christ.

Learn more about this statement.

Commemoration of the Emanuel Nine — June 17

As part of the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, voting members adopted a resolution designating June 17 as a commemoration of the martyrdom of the Emanuel 9—the nine people shot and killed on June 17, 2015, during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Click here for worship and other resources.