A Statement of the Southeastern Iowa Synod Council

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Adopted July 18, 2020

In response to the social unrest ignited by the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and the subsequent cries for racial justice in our nation, and in acknowledgment of the systematic racism that infects our nation, and this church, the Synod Council of the Southeastern Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,

  • Condemns the killing of George Floyd, and all acts of injustice against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC);


  • Identifies racism as a sin both against God and against our neighbors; the 1993 ELCA social statement Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture, which confessed the sin of racism, defined as “a mix of power, privilege, and prejudice—is sin, a violation of God’s intention for humanity. The resulting racial, ethnic, or cultural barriers deny the truth that all people are God’s creatures and, therefore, persons of dignity. Racism fractures and fragments both church and society.”[1]


  • Confesses our own participation in systems and structures that perpetuate racial injustice, both by what we have done and by what we have left undone, and we ask for God’s forgiveness; for “our historical complicity in slavery and its enduring legacy of racism in the United States and globally. We lament the white church’s failure to work for the abolition of slavery and the perpetuation of racism in this church. We confess, repent, and repudiate the times when this church has been silent in the face of racial injustice.”[2]


  • Supports law enforcement reform that holds accountable officials and agencies that continue to perpetrate unjust and violent acts against BIPOC and against others who are, by virtue of their low economic standing, particularly vulnerable;


  • Denounces systemic bias in this country’s judicial system, including delayed arrests and indictments in civil rights cases, especially cases of police brutality;[3]


  • Encourages reform of the systematic racial and socio-economic disparities the judicial system, including the cash bail system, the right to legal defense, and sentencing laws, and the mass incarceration of BIPOC;[4]


  • Calls on all congregations and ministry partners of this synod to seek positive ways to work toward racial justice in our church, in our communities, and in our nation, when possible, engaging with persons and agencies in our communities already engaged in the work of racial justice;


  • Commits to seek intentional opportunities to listen deeply to BIPOC in and across our synod, learning from one another how to be advocates for change and agents of reconciliation in the name of Jesus Christ;


  • Commits to the work of advocacy, calling upon leaders in local, state, and federal government to support legislation and executive actions that has the potential of effecting real and lasting change toward justice for all of God’s people;


  • Commits to engaging and strengthening the Southeastern Iowa Synod Anti-Racism Network, while seeking to cultivate additional means by which we will be held accountable in living out the commitments of this statement. seiasynod.org/anti-racism-network


[1] Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture (Chicago: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 1993), 2. https://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Race-Ethnicity-and-Culture

[2] Declaration of the ELCA to People of African Descent (Chicago: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2019), 1. https://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Slavery_Apology_Explanation.pdf

[3] The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries (Chicago: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2013) https://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Criminal_JusticeSS.pdf

[4] Ibid.


Downloadable PDF Version of this statement

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