USA: Lutheran denomination declares itself a sanctuary church

Source: ELCA

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America has become the first North American denomination to declare itself a sanctuary church body. The decision was voted on at their meeting in Milwaukee on Thursday,

As a sanctuary church the ELCA is committed to serving and supporting migrant children and families in communities across the country.

Earlier in the day, the Rev Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the ELCA, joined more than 700 assembly members and others in a march and prayer vigil to the Milwaukee Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office. The march addressed concerns about the human rights of migrant children and families entering the US along the southern border. Through the ELCA's initiative, Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities (AMMPARO), the church "is committed to work toward just and humane policies affecting migrants in and outside the US."

During morning plenary, the Rev Chris Boerger, the outgoing secretary of the ELCA, gave a report in which he mentioned that the denomination has made "little progress" in moving toward the commitment of authentic diversity. He reported that at the end of 2015, the ELCA was 92% white and at the end of 2018, it was 94% white.

"Until it really is a commitment for the congregations of this church, the prospects of this change are very dim," he said. "As a white church we say the right words. We, the majority population of this church, need to do more than talk."

Boerger's report also included statistics on baptized membership, which continues to decline. There was a 2.8% decrease from 2017, which he said is consistent with the trend the church has seen since its formation.

"We still have 3.4 million members," he said. "We are not an insignificant church."

"We are the clay jars that God has chosen to use to proclaim the gospel to this time and in our individual contexts," he said. "Thank you for this opportunity to serve our God, our world and our church. We are church. Thanks be to God."

Tags: Evangelical Lutheran, Sanctuary, Migrants, Refugees, ELCA, #Lutheran

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