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ELCA Churchwide Assembly honors Indigenous people

CHICAGO — The 2022 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will honor and celebrate Indigenous people through presentations and worship during this weeklong event, to be held Aug. 8-12 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio.

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton will open the assembly on Tuesday, Aug. 9, with a land acknowledgment noting that the gathering is taking place on the original and ancestral homelands of the Shawnee, Miami and Kaskaskia peoples.

On Wednesday, Aug. 10, the assembly will honor Indigenous people through various observances and presentations:

  • The American Indian and Alaska Native Lutheran Association has invited assembly participants to wear red to recognize and publicize the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
     
  • The assembly will recognize the Rev. Marlene Whiterabbit Helgemo, who died July 22. Helgemo was the first Native American woman ordained in the Lutheran church.
     
  • The assembly will hear the first in-person pronouncement of “A Declaration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to American Indian and Alaska Native People” and receive an update on the work of the Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery Task Force. The declaration is a direct result of the social policy resolution adopted by the 2016 Churchwide Assembly. Following the presentation, Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians, will address the assembly. 
  • The words and music for the service of Holy Communion are derived from a variety of Native American sources and designed with the help of Indigenous people who are leaders in the ELCA. The Rev. Joann Conroy, president of the ELCA American Indian and Alaska Native Lutheran Association, will preach, and the Rev. Guy Erwin, president of United Lutheran Seminary and a member of the Osage Nation, will serve as presiding minister. Other worship participants include Eaton and several native leaders from the ELCA. The worship service will begin with a prayer song offered by Imnizaska Family Drum. Other elements during worship will include a prayer to the four directions, which will incorporate a gathering of waters from the four directions within the territory of the ELCA, and a time of repentance as called for in the Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery.
     
  • The worship offering will support the Pine Ridge Reservation initiative. ELCA Indigenous Ministries and Tribal Relations and ELCA World Hunger are partnering with the Oglala Sioux Tribe and local organizations to support the tribe as it addresses homelessness, housing, education, cultural preservation, livelihood opportunities, Two Spirit support and more on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Throughout the week, assembly participants are encouraged to visit the American Indian/Alaska Native Community Learning Space, located in the convention hall in rooms B140-145.

The ELCA Churchwide Assembly is the highest legislative body of the denomination. This gathering will be composed of more than 900 voting members serving on behalf of the 3.3 million members of the ELCA. Meeting under the theme “Embody the Word,” the assembly will participate in plenary discussions to make decisions about the work of this church. Attendees will also spend time in worship and Bible study.

Live video of the assembly will be accessible at www.elca.org/CWA-2022.

To register as press or to access other news and media information, contact Candice Hill Buchbinder at Candice.Buchbinder@elca.org.

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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God’s work. Our hands.,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA’s roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.

For information contact:
Candice Hill Buchbinder
Public Relations Manager
773-380-2877
Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org

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