Statement from ELCA Presiding Bishop Eaton on Standing Rock
When we come together for worship, we often begin with confession and forgiveness using these words: "We confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves." Lutherans acknowledge that this is a broken world and, as part of it, even our best wisdom and efforts fall short. Very often we face issues of extraordinary complexity in which all sides make reasoned arguments for their reality. The current situation at Standing Rock in North Dakota is just such a case.
The route of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) runs through contested land, which the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sees as their homeland and sacred places, including burial grounds. Proponents of the DAPL sees it as a combination of public and private property. The pipeline will run under Lake Oahe, the primary water source for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. What we see is the tension between two peoples trying to share one land. We can also see the tension between our dependence on fossil fuels and the commitment this church has made to care for creation.
This past August, the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly passed a resolution repudiating the doctrine of discovery. In it we pledged "to practice accompaniment with Native peoples." The doctrine declared that indigenous land was "unoccupied" as long as Christians were not present. Land deemed "unoccupied" was, therefore, "discovered," as if it had been previously unknown to humankind. This doctrine was used as justification for European monarchies, and later the U.S. government, to take land from Native people. Many of us in this church who are immigrants have benefitted from the injustices done to the original inhabitants of this land where we now live and worship. Our church also includes American Indian and Alaskan Native people, who have been on the receiving end of the injustices done. When we repudiated the doctrine of discovery, we Lutherans pledged to do better together in the future than we have in the past.
Acknowledging the complexity of this issue and the limitations sin places on human decisions, I believe that we are called as a church to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: to stand with the Tribe as they seek justice, to encourage our congregations to pray for them and to offer material support, and to examine the racism inherent in our system that contributes to the current crisis. As promised in our resolution repudiating the doctrine of discovery, we will listen to tribal leaders and respect their wisdom.
We will lend our presence when invited, our advocacy when requested, the resources of our people when asked, and our prayers, friendship and repentance at all times.
Your sister in Christ,
Elizabeth A. Eaton
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
November 9, 2016
Comments after the Election
We have just finishing a bruising and difficult election, one which has left many worried, fearful, and angry, and injured. I myself have never seen our country as divided and frustrated as it is at this moment.
This situation calls us to be aware especially of our identity and mission as the church. By virtue of Baptism we all are ambassadors of Jesus, and our mission to serve as agents of his resurrection and reconciliation.
I am convinced that we must dedicate ourselves anew to the ministry of prayer for our country and our leaders. In prayer we open ourselves to the transformative power of our Lord as we minister in our individual lives, in our churches, in our communities, and in our beloved country.
I am convinced that in our discussions with others, particularly those whose views differ from our own, we should treat them according to the command of Jesus, namely, that we love each other as he has loved us. This involves respectful and patient listening as well as charitable and sensitive expression of our ideas.
I am convinced that this election calls us to look deeply into ourselves and our congregations so that we become aware of the anger, self-interest, and racism that we harbor within and among ourselves. And then we can begin the difficult yet necessary spiritual discipline of rooting them out.
I am convinced that that we need to lift up the virtue of the common good. Our current political process has encouraged us to make public decisions on the basis of what we individually will receive. But as Christians we know that caring about the welfare of the whole community, including refugees, is part of our vocation as Christ’s people. Justice, community, and peace flow from a commitment to the common good of all who have been created by God and for whom Christ became incarnate among us.
I pray for Christ’s blessing on our country in the difficult days ahead.
C. Franklin Brookhart
Bishop of Montana
[ACNS] Delegations of Shia and Sunni Islam, the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican / Episcopal leaders are gathering in the Iranian capital Tehran for the fourth Christian-Muslim Summit of Religious Leaders. The interfaith dialogue brings together international leaders to reflect and share ideas around the theme of Respect for human dignity: the foundation for peace and security. “Given the rise of violence throughout the world by those who claim to be acting in the name of religion, this theme is particularly important,” a member of the Anglican delegation said.
The summits began in 2007 when former Iranian President Muhammad Khatami spoke at Washington National Cathedral in the US. He called for a gathering of religious and cultural leaders from eastern and western perspectives. The first summit took place at Washington National Cathedral in 2010 and subsequent summits were held in Beirut in 2012 and in Rome in 2014.
At this final summit, delegates will create a call to action around the theme of respect for human dignity and will also consider how the rich dialogue that has been the centrepiece of these summits can be continued.
The Anglican / Episcopal delegation is led by the former Bishop of Washington, John Chane, who now serves as the senior advisor for interreligious dialogue for Washington National Cathedral. Other members of the delegation include the Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion; Archbishop Paul Kwong, the Primate of Hong Kong and chair of the Anglican Consultative Council; the Revd Chloe Breyer, executive director of the Interfaith Centre of New York; and Ms Ruth Frey, the senior program officer for Justice and Reconciliation at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York.
The Revd Canon John Peterson, director of the Centre for Global Justice and Reconciliation at Washington National Cathedral, serves as co-coordinator for the Christian-Muslim Summits.
This week’s summit, which began yesterday (Sunday) will conclude on Wednesday (9 November). Afterwards, delegates will visit the pilgrimage cities of Qom and Isfahan.
Dear brothers and sisters of the Mountain Sky Area,
At the conclusion of a contentious election process, we are left with a country that is more divided than ever before. As we look at the challenges facing us as a nation, the deep divisions that are fracturing us, I call on the clergy and laity of the Mountain Sky Area to be in prayer together, as we seek the healing of our nation. We who follow Jesus are called to offer our neighbors the love of God in all we do. In our words and actions, we need to offer hope to those who feel despair and healing for those who feel broken.
Yet, Jesus calls us to do much more. The love we are to share as disciples of Christ is transformative, changing individuals, families, communities, and yes, even the entire world.
I believe in the power of love. And whether today we are lamenting or celebrating the election, here is what I know to be true: the love we as Christians are called to live out cannot be legislated. It is not controlled by politics. It is to be lived out, not talked about or debated. This love is realized when we stand with the poor and marginalized. It is embodied when we seek justice for the oppressed.
This love is the heartbeat of humanity that cannot be stopped by hatred or fear. It is the recognition of our brother and sister in those whose names we don’t know, whose dignity we will honor and respect.
This is the love God calls us to, which always and forever moves us all towards Beloved Community.
So, today and in the days to come, may we get on our knees to pray for our nation and the world’s peoples. And then, let us rise from our knees to love our brothers and sisters, the leaders of the world, including President-elect Donald Trump, the earth, and all living beings. As followers of Jesus, we can do no other.
Blessings and peace,
Bishop Karen P. Oliveto
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