An Open Letter of Confession from the Church Council at Calvary Lutheran Church to our Black Siblings

Grace and Peace to our Black siblings in Federal Way and throughout the world.

It has been 16 days since the murder of George Floyd, and while our voice is small, together we must speak out.

We, the Church Council of Calvary Lutheran Church, write to confess that we have failed to defend your dignity and human rights in Federal Way and in our country. So that we may do better—by loving justice, and walking humbly with our God—we confess our sin:

As a member congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), we at Calvary are part of the whitest church body in the United States. Calvary reflects this lack of diversity, and we acknowledge that this lack of diversity perpetuates our complicity and silence in the face of suffering.

Calvary also bears the shameful mark of being part of the church body that raised Dylann Roof, who murdered nine members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina five years ago. Two members of that Bible study group received their theological education from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in South Carolina. This connection makes us complicit in the death of these good people.

We know that empty platitudes are worse than useless. They will not take away your pain. They will not relieve us of being complicit in racial injustice. And they may actually distract—drawing attention to our supposed-enlightenment, rather than the centuries-long suffering you have experienced.

So today we confess our sin: We have ignored the ongoing impact of systemic racism in our country. We have not made it our calling to learn about others’ lived experiences. We have benefitted from white privilege and have not been active allies. We commit to learning and growing and lending our voices to demand change that reflects our love of Jesus the Christ and our love of you.

This upcoming Wednesday, June 17th, is the anniversary of the murder of the Emanuel Nine. Our national church body will be observing a day of lament, praying that we may be more honest to God about our corporate sins of racism and racial injustice. We trust that Christ, who put his life on the line and lost it for sinners like us, will move us to a faith that bears fruit worthy of repentance: truly seeking justice for all—but especially, in these days, for you.

Black lives matter—to God and to us. And so we confess to you.

For the love of Christ,

Margaret Peterson, Council President

Karin Johnson, Vice President

Kathleen Parks, Secretary

Lori Cornell, Pastor

Randall Baeth, Mike Fant, Donna Wendelburg, Bob Roegner, Janet Vahalla, Madeline Yamada, Cindy Wagner, Bob McClane, Marj Hause, Council Members

Calvary Lutheran Church Council, Federal Way, Washington