One of the best parts of Summer is Summer Camp! These terrific kids headed out Sunday afternoon for a week of Confirmation and Discovers Camp at Luther Springs. Pastor Shelly and I will go up to camp on Thursday and get to spend a day and a half with the kids before bringing them home on Friday.
In worship this weekend we also sent David Young off with prayers and blessings as he leaves to begin his studies at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, OH. Together we prayed these words for David, for our camp kids, and for all: Lord we pray for all who are traveling, away from home, moving, or in the midst of change, may they and we all see your face and your love revealed in new ways and new paths. Amen
Finally, every ELCA congregation has been asked to share the words you find below from our Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton about how the tragedy in Charleston is “intensely personal” for us as a Lutheran Church and how we are called to respond.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Jack +
Words from our Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton:
It has been a long season of disquiet in our country. From Ferguson to Baltimore, simmering racial tensions have bo
iled over into violence. But this … the fatal shooting of nine African Americans in a church is a stark, raw manifestation of the sin that is racism. The church was desecrated. The people of that congregation were desecrated. The aspiration voiced in the Pledge of Allegiance that we are “one nation under God” was desecrated.
Mother Emanuel AME’s pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was a graduate of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, as was the Rev. Daniel Simmons, associate pastor at Mother Emanuel. The suspected shooter is a member of an ELCA congregation. All of a sudden and for all of us, this is an intensely personal tragedy. One of our own is alleged to have shot and killed two who adopted us as their own.
We might say that this was an isolated act by a deeply disturbed man. But we know that is not the whole truth. It is not an isolated event. And even if the shooter was unstable, the framework upon which he built his vision of race is not. Racism is a fact in American culture. Denial and avoidance of this fact are deadly. The Rev. Mr. Pinckney leaves a wife and children. The other eight victims leave grieving families. The family of the suspected killer and two congregations are broken. When will this end?
The nine dead in Charleston are not the first innocent victims killed by violence. Our only hope rests in the innocent One, who was violently executed on Good Friday. Emmanuel, God with us, carried our grief and sorrow – the grief and sorrow of Mother Emanuel AME church – and he was wounded for our transgressions – the deadly sin of racism.
I urge all of us to spend a day in repentance and mourning. And then we need to get to work. Each of us and all of us need to examine ourselves, our church and our communities. We need to be honest about the reality of racism within us and around us. We need to talk and we need to listen, but we also need to act. No stereotype or racial slur is justified. Speak out against inequity. Look with newly opened eyes at the many subtle and overt ways that we and our communities see people of color as being of less worth. Above all pray – for insight, for forgiveness, for courage.
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America