May 29, 2020

To the People of God in the Southeastern Minnesota Synod, 

I’ve woken up the past few mornings with a heavy heart. The first things I do most mornings are read the Bible and read the news; what I’m reading in the news is making me weep.
I want to talk about the killing of George Floyd.
I try to be careful in all the news I watch and read. I try to stop and hold onto whatever objective information there is. I asked myself after learning of George Floyd’s death what do I know ? And what I know is this: a black man lies on the ground with a white man’s knee on his neck and the black man dies. And what I know is this: if George Floyd was my husband or brother or son, I would have fallen into a million little pieces by now. I would have simply dissolved into an abyss of grief.
I also know this: that one of the men I most respect, admire and love has dedicated his life to working for the good of our nation as a law enforcement officer. I know that job has brought him to battles against evils most of us are blissfully unaware of. Unaware because he does what he does.
I know that this is not an either/or situation. I know that I can both be angry in response to George Floyd’s cruel death as I join my voice with those who call for justice and I can know there are those who serve in law enforcement who do their work with integrity and compassion.
I know this: that one of our central beliefs as Christians is that all people are created in the image of God. All people have inherent dignity and worth. I know that every single life matters and George Floyd’s life was worth just as much as mine.
I know that God is just, even as we live in an unjust world, and that “he has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” 1
I know that my words are not enough and I need to do the work of turning the convictions of my faith into action.
I know that the destruction associated with some of the protestors is disconcerting. And I’m asking you not to fixate on the destruction brought by some and instead focus on the truth that we are all called to participate in the work of justice. We’re going to need to figure out a way to work together.
And I know as a white woman with a certain amount of privilege, how easy it can be to dismiss something as untrue because it reflects truth that is uncomfortable or outside my experience. So, I’m asking us to listen and to believe the words our siblings of color speak even when those words are hard to hear or tell us of a world we know nothing about. Listen.
Dear people of God, I believe with my whole heart that we are the people who can work for justice. We are the people who meet, in all our need, at the foot of the cross, the very place where death begins its transformation to life.
Oh that the Spirit of God would blow through each of us so that we may indeed do justice, and love kindness and walk humbly with our God.

In Christ, 
Bishop Regina Hassanally
1  Micah 6:8
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8).

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) reaffirms its commitment to combating racism and white supremacy following the recent murders of Black Americans. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, and George Floyd were our neighbors. Ahmaud Arbery was chased down, shot and killed by a retired police officer and his son while jogging in Brunswick, Ga. (Feb. 23, 2020). Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was shot eight times by Louisville Metro Police
Department officers who entered her apartment while serving a "no-knock warrant" (March 13, 2020). Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, a 21-year-old from Indianapolis died after being shot at least eight times by an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer (May 6, 2020). George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis while begging for his life, a block away from Calvary Lutheran, an ELCA congregation (May 25, 2020). As the Conference of Bishops, we condemn the white supremacy that has led to the deaths of so many unarmed Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color in our country. We grieve with, pray for and stand in solidarity with the families and friends of all whose loved ones have been and continue to be victims of injustices run amok, racist violence and the insidious venom of white supremacy.

The ELCA’s social policy resolution , “Condemnation of White Supremacy and Racist Rhetoric,” adopted by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, states: “As persons called to love one another as God has loved us, we therefore proclaim our commitment to speak with one voice against racism and white supremacy. We stand with those who are targets of racist ideologies and actions.” As church, together we must work to condemn white supremacy in all forms and recommit ourselves to confront and exorcize the sins of injustice, racism and white supremacy in church and society and within ourselves as
individuals and households.

On May 21, the ELCA Southeastern Synod hosted a webinar : “Becoming the Body of Christ – Condemning White Supremacy” in response to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. This is one of many strategic opportunities happening across this church to address white supremacy and racist rhetoric. On June 17, we will gather again as church to commemorate the Mother Emanuel 9 and to repent of racism and white supremacy. An online ELCA prayer service, including leaders from across the church and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton as preacher, is being planned for June 17, 2020, marking the fifth
anniversary of the martyrdom of the Emanuel 9. We encourage congregations to reaffirm their commitment to repenting of the sins of racism and dismantling white supremacy that continue to plague this church by marking this day of penitence with study and prayer leading to action ( ).

For the ELCA press release about this statement, click here .