From the North Carolina Synod Council
September 24, 2021
At its September meeting, the North Carolina Synod Council read from the letter shared by the ELCA American Indian/Alaska Native Association. The letter, dated July 23, 2021 reads:
Our synod council reviewed the letter and approved a motion from leaders across our synod to engage in this sacred remembrance—and to continue to take steps of lamentation, confession, reconciliation, and healing.

Beginning Thursday, September 30, the day when many will wear orange to remember, we too will be wearing orange and draping the synod office chapel with orange fabric.

Will you join us? Join us in draping this fabric, not out of obligation or guilt, but as a sacred remembrance. Make space in your sanctuaries for the memory of children lost far too soon in traumatic and unjust ways. Make space in your sanctuaries for pieces of orange fabric as a commitment to healing with our First Nations siblings.
Orange fabric is only one step in our journey together to honor and heal relationships with our native siblings. Join us in this step. We will continue to share other ways you can grow including making a land acknowledgment, contributing to the AROC Fund of the synod that will support the ongoing work of Living Waters, Cherokee, and lifting up advocacy opportunities in your local community.

Walking with you,
Diana Haywood Signature

Diana Haywood
Vice President, North Carolina Synod Council
A Reflection from Pastor Jack Russell of Living Waters, Cherokee
Pastor Jack Russell, a survivor of boarding schools himself, powerfully shares his own story and the ways residential schools took the lives of so many children. Hear from Pastor Jack why it matters that his Lutheran siblings around the synod recognize the lives lost and tell this part of history truthfully.

Pastor Jack serves Living Waters Lutheran Mission—the only First Nations mission congregation of the ELCA east of the Mississippi River.

As You Participate with Us in This Sacred Remembering...
We invite you to read about the Orange Shirt Day Movement and Phyllis' Story that inspired this work of remembrance and reconciliation. You can learn her story and so much more at

Consider where you are purchasing your fabric. We encourage you to buy from indigenous artists and entrepreneurs.
The fabric pattern we will use to drape the synod office sanctuary was designed by an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (ECBI), Jeanne Burgess. The fabric is red-orange. The stripe down the center in black and white is Cherokee syllabary: the word Lishi which is grandmother. This particular fabric was recommended to us because Jeanne was a school teacher at Cherokee Central School as opposed to teaching in residential schools. Her life's work was teaching in a way that honored the gift of indigenous children.

Others may choose to use orange clothing to symbolize the original shirt and story.

As part of our ongoing remembrance and growth, include a statement about the orange cloth in the bulletin each week as a reminder of its meaning. Consider printing out the original letter or creating a short explanation to go with the fabric.

We encourage you to place your fabric in your sanctuary space, however, it can be placed outside or in your narthex. Wherever it is on your church grounds, make sure it is done in a way that honors lives lost and continues to tell their story.

We encourage you to use a prayer when the fabric is draped and when it is removed as a way of marking its holy time. This prayer, written by the AIAN Association will be available at
Consider making a donation to the NC Synod's All Races, One Church (AROC) Fund that will continue to provide funds to communities of color throughout our synod so that they might be a vital witness for Jesus in their neighborhoods.
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has co-signed, along with other heads of churches from Churches Beyond Borders, a letter on the legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery. Learn more about the signing and the letter in this Living Lutheran article.
The NC Synod Council has begun work on a formal land acknowledgement which will be displayed at our synod office. Consider making an acklowedgement in your own congregation. Resources are available here.

If you have questions about any of these resources, contact the NC Synod Council's Mission & Ministry Committee staff liaison, Pastor Danielle DeNise.
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