Dear People of God,
The grace and peace of God be ever with you!
The news continues to tell the stories of violent attacks against our Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders neighbors, colleagues, friends, and citizens. In the past year, this abusive and sinful behavior has been fueled by misinformation, lies, name-calling, and other racist rhetoric often blaming the Coronavirus on Asian Peoples. It is a sad commentary on one of our societal ills. Such behavior within our humanity calls us during this Lenten season to repentance, as we are reminded of Jesus' words when he was asked about the greatest of the commandments. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-33)
On March 4 the ELCA Conference of Bishops voted to affirm the “Statement on Anti-Asian Racism” (below). It is an encouragement to the congregations, lay and rostered leaders, and all members and friends of our faith communities. We are urged to take specific actions to stand in solidarity with our Asian and Pacific Islander siblings and to renounce the abusive behaviors that attack others with words and deeds.
Please read the statement, copy it and share it with your congregations and communities. I encourage you to talk about the ways we might be part of the solution, and then to take appropriate actions to help one another love our neighbor as we love our God. God bless and keep us all!
In the name and promise of Christ Jesus,
Bishop Murray D. Finck
The statement follows:
The COVID-related surge in anti-Asian violence is physically and spiritually assaulting Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. This violence re-emerged from America’s historical and pervasive sin of racism. Asian American and Pacific Islander children and adults are facing assaults with racial slurs, bullying, spitting, physical injury, and even death. These are not new in communities where Peoples of Color live. These violent acts of racism have and are happening in cities and towns across the United States. The virus of racism cannot be allowed to run rampant.
We the Association of Asians and Pacific Islanders - ELCA call on our church to once again unequivocally denounce racism by taking immediate actions to defend, protect, and uphold the safety and lives of Asian Americans. 1 Corinthians 12 tells us that we are one body with many members. This member of the body is suffering. Let us bear this suffering together as one body.
We call on our church:
- to model the example of Jesus whose compassion was made visible by acts of love, culminating in embracing bodily harm to save us;
- to undergird and measurably advance its fight against racism and apathy, in all expressions of the church;
- to model how to tap into Jesus’s deep empathy as our collective power to stand against violence and promote the way of Jesus instead;
- to urge, facilitate, and invite all people in the ELCA’s sphere of influence, both within the church and beyond it, to unite in this crucial battle;
- to declare a Sunday during this Lenten season to lament in order to express solidarity, help in healing, and support the victims of violence against Asian Americans;
- to show how the ELCA will oppose racism, its death-dealing manifests, and proclaim ways to move forward as a church and society where all God’s people of color can be free to build world of true peace, equality, justice, and kindness with others.