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 Further, the Doctrine of Discovery is not simply a historical document and is not only about the past.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.
One commitment found in each document is to formally acknowledge the original inhabitants of North America. The declaration states:
“We commit to begin the practice of land acknowledgments at all expressions of the church.”
ELCA Land Acknowledgment guide. Vance Blackfox, Desk Director for American Indian Alaska Native Tribal Nations with the ELCA, has prepared a guide for those who wish to begin a journey toward truth and healing by practicing land acknowledgements. It includes examples of statements that you can speak at the beginning of every worship service, print at the top of worship bulletins, use to create outdoor signage and more.
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.
“Now is the Time” is a study guide that helps congregations wrestle with the meaning of “Declaration of the ELCA to People of African Descent.” The study guide and accompanying participant materials stress realism, self-examination and accountability as the church apologizes for its complicity in slavery and its enduring legacy of racism in the United States.”
Commemoration of the Emanuel Nine
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.