This is our future church: A ten-year-old preacher and professional artist; a grassroots campaign for affordable housing; young and diverse communities. African Descent Ministries of the ELCA is celebrating Black History Month with Talks at the Desk, a new series that will explore diverse expressions of the church. For more updates, follow @ELCAADM on Twitter and Instagram or check out facebook.com/elcaadm. Join us each Wednesday in February at 5:30 p.m. Pacific time to hear our youth, young adults, rostered leaders, elders and friends of our communities share their own sacred stories.
Engaging, involving and investing in the gifts, interests and capacity of people of African descent in every aspect of the life of this church is the focus of African Descent Ministry in the ELCA. As part of our Ethnic Specific and Multicultural Ministries Team, we seek to strengthen the hands of the ELCA for building — with integrity — a multiethnic and multicultural church. As people of African descent, it is the gospel of Jesus that gives us the faith and freedom to join with all of our siblings in Christ to boldly participate in God’s work of restoring and reconciling communities in the name of Jesus Christ throughout the world.
The term “African Descent” refers to people who self-identify as Black, African Caribbean, African American, African Nationals and others of African ancestry from numerous countries who now live in the United States. A network of about 255 congregations report 49,000 people of African descent as active participants in the ELCA across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The African Descent community within the ELCA is wonderfully diverse in culture and context. Together we are Christians, some new to the faith and others who for generations have been baptized Christians in Lutheran congregations. We stand in a long and biblically historical line of people of faith and of African descent, each person bringing a unique story that adds to the larger story that makes up the ELCA.
Many Voices, Tell the Story, Create the Vision: Build Our Future
The ELCA African Descent Strategic Plan, “Many Voices, Tell the Story, Create the Vision: Build Our Future,” and the accompanying ELCA African Descent Strategy Implementation Plan guides our work. The strategic plan calls us to live out God's call in and through visionary pastoral leadership, worship, witness, discipleship, stewardship, family ministries, social justice, and unity and diversity. These areas of ministry work together in an integrated, holistic approach to responding to God’s call for us to build up the body of Jesus Christ — the church — in the world and in every community. We stand together to glorify God as partners in the gospel — doing God’s work in the world together. Please visit the ELCA resources available online and read the full text of the ELCA African Descent Strategic Plan and Implementation Plan as a downloadable resource.
African Descent Lutheran Association
Visit the African Descent Lutheran Association website, www.adlaelca.org, to learn more about our ELCA African Descent community and how to join this active, vital network and association. The association develops important connections, advocates for congregations, promotes implementation of the ELCA African Descent Strategy, and provides fellowship, learning and sharing opportunities. It also provides a forum for theological reflection for clergy and lay members through collaboration with other African Descent organizations and networks.
Episode 1: Black Girl Magic
In this first part of the Talks at the Desk video series, Black women from across the ELCA share their experiences as leaders in the church. They speak about their journeys, joys, struggles and hopes for future generations. A discussion guide to help individuals and congregations engage with these conversations is available at ELCA.org/ADM.
Episode 2: Black Boy Joy
In this second part of the Talks at the Desk video series, Black men and boys speak about their connections across generations. They reflect on how their faith communities and mentor relationships have guided them and nurtured their passions. A discussion guide to help individuals and congregations engage with these conversations is available at ELCA.org/ADM.
Episode 3: Our Black Church
The third part of the Talks at the Desk video series features Bethlehem Lutheran Church - New Orleans, one of the oldest Black Lutheran churches in the United States. Learn about Bethlehem’s remarkable history and the bold, courageous ways the congregation is serving its neighbors. A discussion guide to help individuals and congregations engage with these conversations is available at ELCA.org/ADM.
Episode 4: Black Lives Matter
In the fourth and final episode of the “Talks at the Desk” video series, members of the African descent community share the many ways they work towards justice. They explore the deep connection between current events, politics and their faith. A discussion guide to help individuals and congregations engage with these conversations is available at ELCA.org/ADM.