Serving God, Changing Lives

ELCA presiding bishop issues pastoral message on COVID-19 racism and white supremacy

For just as the body is one and has
many members, and all the members of the body,

though many, are one body, so it is
with Christ.
—I Corinthians 12:12


May 13, 2020


Dear church, 

Christ is risen indeed!

During the uncertainty of the COVID-19
pandemic, I am encouraged by your resilience and creativity in our witness to the
life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I am also inspired by your
generosity. Through the
ELCA COVID-19 Response Fund and our Daily Bread grants, we are providing critical support to struggling yet vital
ministries across this church. Through
Disaster Response International
we have
intensified our accompaniment of global partners. We are church together. 

This is a trying time for us all. At
the same time, we know that a disproportionate burden of illness, death,
discrimination and harassment falls on communities of color. This pandemic has
exacerbated racism and racial inequities deeply entrenched in society and
across the church. We see this in the growing anti-Asian racism and the
disproportionate number of deaths in black, American Indian and Latinx
communities. I have been learning from the leaders of the ELCA’s
ethnic associations how the data we see on the news is experienced in real life. I have listened
to leaders of color share the impact of this pandemic on their communities — on
their lives and on their ministries. These stories are difficult but important,
so we are launching a special series on to lift up these voices for us all to hear. We also seek to
ensure that our COVID-19 response more effectively tends to the realities of
racism and racial inequality. We are church together. 

Recently, in cities across this
country, we have seen horrifying anti-Semitic and white supremacist messages displayed
during public protests against government orders that are intended to protect
No matter our politics or opinions
about our elected leaders and their policies, all of us must come together on
the basis of our church’s commitments to condemn
racism against indigenous people and
people of color, 
white supremacy, sexism, and anti-Semitism whenever they occur.
Whether our churches and communities
are racially diverse or predominantly white,
our work for racial and economic justice for all people is work for all of us. We are church

Just as
God has joined us to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in baptism, we
are joined to each other. Paul helps us to understand this by speaking of the
one body of Christ, with many members. While this is always true, perhaps we
feel it more acutely in this time of physical distancing. In our longing to be
church together, let us be even more intentional in sharing with each other,
easing each other’s burdens, consoling each other in our fear and grief,
condemning what is contrary to the gospel and living out our baptismal covenant
“to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.” 


Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Bishop, ELCA 


To learn more, visit:

for Disease Control and Prevention: “
in Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups” 

ELCA social statement “Freed in
Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture”

“Explanation of the Declaration of the ELCA to
People of African Descent”  

ELCA social policy resolution
“Condemnation of White Supremacy and Racist Rhetoric”

ELCA social statement “Faith, Sexism,
and Justice: A Call to Action”  

“Declaration of the ELCA to Jewish



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