The refrain, “Lord, listen to your children praying” resounded during the July 8 ELCA Service of Prayer and Lamentation. Organized as an opportunity to mourn together following the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the service moved to include grief over police officers targeted by snipers at a peaceful demonstration in Dallas, which ended in five dead and six more wounded. Lord have mercy.
Today, all of our ELCA Advocacy staff grieve with our church and nation for this tragic loss of life, the repeated reminders of the wounds of racism, fear and injustice and our own complicity in their infliction. Bishop Eaton has called on ELCA ministries and members to be present in our communities in the wake of this and any violence; to accompany protesters, law enforcement, and any who are frightened, despairing or searching for hope. The Gospel calls us to be present, to show up in the places of pain. Here, under the shadow of the cross, is where Jesus promises he will meet us to be present with us through mercy, hope and transformation to new life.
ELCA Advocacy offers resources and guidance for our church to tend to the wounds of our neighbor and society by taking action to address racism, reduce violence and build healthy, safe and resilient communities through public policy advocacy. In addition to serving our neighbors by addressing hunger and poverty, we invite you to take part in opportunities listed below to make your voice heard on violence and racism.
- Take action on Gun Violence with a current alert urging Congress to take action on gun safety.
- Enact Sentencing Reform to address mass incarceration and end the new Jim Crow.
- Ensure the right to vote as #ELCAvotes continues to add resources to equip citizen disciples to faithful voting and civic participation.
- For working with local policing we recommend Building Momentum from the Ground Up: A Toolkit for Promoting Justice in Policing.
Many more advocacy opportunities exist in your local communities and through our state public policy office network. ELCA Advocacy is here to support you as you take action at any or all of these levels.
Lord, listen to your children praying. Lord, guide our actions to be present, to bring comfort and do justice.
The Rev. Amy Reumann
Director, ELCA Advocacy
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America