February 22: Religious News Service's coverage of this story, titled "Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod president calls for excommunicating white nationalists."
February 23: In this video, Rev. Ben Squires summarizes the events surrounding this story and proposes next steps.
Yesterday, LCMS President Matthew Harrison sent this letter to The LCMS Board of Directors, district presidents, and seminary presidents. While it was not shared with the Synod at large, it's our understanding that the letter is not confidential. With that in mind, we're sharing it here for the benefit and awareness of the LRJ community.
For context: since Lutherans for Racial Justice first launched in 2020, we've been aware of Lutherans who openly promote views that are widely accepted as white supremacist hate speech (read more on that here). As indicated by President Harrison's letter, there have been LCMS pastors and Districts who have, over the past month, sought disciplinary actions with several of these individuals.
In his letter, President Harrison rejects the racist teachings of “white supremacy” and “Nazism,” among others. He also says, “I will work together with our pastors and district presidents to address this matter wherever it arises among us and reject it.”
We’re grateful for President Harrison’s willingness to partner with church workers on combatting “racist and supremacist ideologies.” The many rostered pastors, teachers, district leaders who participate in the LRJ community look forward to engaging with President Harrison on this matter as soon as he is available and willing.
In addition to reaching out to President Harrison to partner in this effort, we encourage congregations to submit overtures (instructions here) for the 2023 Convention by the due date of March 11. LRJ encourages congregations to consider submitting this overture that is based on variations of resolutions that have been passed by four districts. In addition to condemning racism (which has been done in Convention on multiple occasions), this overture includes a common sense, actionable first step: create a task force made up of qualified experts to research the church body’s historical relationship with multiethnic communities, present the findings, and make recommendations for the future.
Finally, to the LRJ community: while we’re glad to see overt white supremacist speech confronted, it’s important to remember our collective responsibility for the culture of our church body. As pastors, teachers, church workers, lay leaders, students — whatever your involvement in the LCMS — we can all:
Led by the Spirit and in the love and grace and good work of Christ, we Lutherans are empowered to loosen our grip on power, glory, money, and other worldly treasures. Knowing full well that this work will not be completed by us or in our time, we hold onto the hope of a world to come, where every nation and people and languages stand together.
Keep leading the way,
Matt & Josh, LRJ