The Truth Shall Set You Free

I’ve written before about my beloved albeit broken community; about my church and why I continue to be engaged with a community of faith. I am a member of and leader in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), one of the largest Protestant denominations in this country. My church has approximately 3.8 million members in around 10,000 congregations across the U.S. and the Caribbean. This church is a historically white church, founded by a German Catholic monk named Martin Luther. He never wanted to start a new church, he wanted to reform the Roman Catholic Church. Luther felt like the church was not speaking in the language of the people and that the church had lost it’s prophetic voice and leadership within society. His 95 Theses marked the beginning of what we now call the Protestant Reformation. In 2017, Lutherans around the world will mark the 500th anniversary of this historic event. My church is a church that was born out of truth-telling, risk taking and prophetic imagination.

I’ve always claimed this church as my church. I often say I am a bit of a unicorn – a Black Puerto Rican, third generation Lutheran. I was baptized, confirmed, married, educated and called to ministry in this church. At the founding convention of this church, there was a vision that the church would be 10% people of color within 10 years of our inception. This percentage has not come to pass and we’ve actually declined in the number of members of color within the church. There were always small pockets of communities of color within the denomination and people of color who were members of largely white congregations, but as a whole, we have not been good at addressing the cultural divisions that our church continues to embody.

So here I am, a young Black woman who is a leader in a predominantly white church. The past year has been difficult for me to reconcile my cultural identity and my denominational identity. I have long been a defender of the Lutheran church even as I have experienced the structural racism and brokenness that the church exhibits.

I’ve been asked if I went to college by members of this church. Not what college I went to, but if I went to college.

I’ve been told that my ability to articulate theological concepts is impressive.

I’ve been asked if one can touch my hair while being in a professional setting.

I’ve been ignored in congregations that I go to visit until people realize “who I am”.

I’ve been asked when I became Lutheran, because surely a black woman could not be born into this tradition.

I see how leaders of color are viewed and cannot get calls in congregations because “they aren’t a good fit” (read: we are a white congregation and we don’t know how to have a leader of color.)

There have also been microagressions – things that happen in subversive ways that undermine my leadership and authority – that are too many to count. At times I don’t know if it’s because I’m a woman or because I’m younger or because I’m Black. I’m always left wondering.

I’m always cognizant of the way I present myself in mostly white spaces. I think about who’s going to be there, what expectations they might have, how I talk about race and politics, what I wear, what my facial expressions are and how I am present. It’s a lot easier to notice my absence when I’m the only one or one of a handful of people of color at events. I listen to how people talk about people of color who are “difficult to work with” or Black women who “happen to be angry” or women of color in leadership who are “controlling”. I pay attention to these things and I choose to show up in a certain way. To be gracious and humble. To be witty and intellectual. To speak truth but wrap it in love so that it’s more palatable. Like most people of color, I live what W.E.B. DuBois called Double Consciousness everyday of my life. I know without a shadow of a doubt that there are at least two worlds that exist – the white world and the world of people of color. We have to translate language, social norms and behaviors in order to “fit in” and survive.

As details came out of Charleston last week, my heart shattered into a million pieces. At first it was simply because Black people were killed. Then it was because Black people were killed in their church home. Then it was because Black people were killed in their church home as they engaged in bible study and welcomed a stranger. Then it was because Black people were killed in their church home as they engaged in bible study and welcomed a stranger who was a white young adult. Then my world came crashing down around me as the news became public that the white young adult was a member of an ELCA congregation and that two of the people who were killed were graduates of an ELCA seminary.

It hit me like a ton of bricks: I am a part of a church that raises racist white people who then kill people of color who are educated in our institutions. That may seem like an oversimplification to some, but this truth broke what was left of my heart and I plunged into despair.

My thoughts began to swirl and I’ve literally had a headache for over a week.

I have been claiming a church as my own that’s not actually my church. My cultural practices and ways of being are not seen as authentically “Lutheran”.

I have been defending a church that has never repented of the systemic racism that is present within.

I have been leading within a church that is blind to it’s own white privilege and the ways that white supremacy work; that has a hard time actually naming racism as sin.

For the first time in my life, I felt like the church that I deeply love and has raised me was actually not my church.

As all of this was unfolding within me, I was scheduled to be at an event in an official role. I arrived to the event hanging on by a thread and being in a majority white community reminded me that as much as I want this to be my church with my people, that it’s not. During the opening worship of this event, I waited desperately to hear a word of lament; to share in communal grieving; to experience a moment of collective acknowledgement for what was going on in the world around us. I felt like the ground that I walk on had fundamentally shifted and that everyone around me was proceeding with business as usual.

In this moment, I posted my feelings on social media. I shared that I was at an event where we began with worship and I was looking at a shirt with the Palmetto Tree and Moon (images that are on the South Carolina state flag and license plates) and that it was ironic. Nothing was being said verbally about Charleston and worship went on without a mention, a moment of silence, a word. And it became clear that as much as I love my church and the people of my church, we can be so blinded by our inward focus and navel gazing that we miss crucial opportunities to actually show up.

This set off a bit of a firestorm. I later learned that my supervisor, who was also attending the event, was approached by leaders who were extremely upset by my post. The tension began to bubble up and I was set to address the group the next morning. When it was time for me address the community, I made mention to how I felt the night before and shared that I felt like, for the first time, this church wasn’t my church. I later found out that people felt personally attacked by my statements. I was called out for “being a public leader who should be careful about what she posts.” I was approached by a leader who said that they didn’t feel like Dylann Roof had accomplished his goal of creating a race war but that I made them feel like they were now in a race war due to my comments. I was told that I hurt the community deeply. I later found out that another person was asked to remove one of their tweets that was in response to one of my tweets and that “guests should be gracious in this space.”

I was told that I should give the community the benefit of the doubt because we are supposed to be allies. That I should wait to hear the community’s response to things at a later time in the event. That I didn’t understand how the community functioned. It was then intimated that we must not be in relationship because of what I’d done. This struck me because I never thought we weren’t in relationship. I thought that I was in a relationship that I could share how I was authentically feeling and that people would provide the space for that to happen.

It is inevitable that this post will cause more tension and conflict. But here’s one thing I know for sure – once you know the truth, it will set you free.

I am not in the business of hurting people. I am not in the business of being mean spirited or hateful. I am in the business of being authentically who I am and leading with truth and love. I shared my feelings and was then told that by doing so I disrupted a community. And I’m struggling with this. And you, dear shadow lovers, know what I do when I struggle. I write.

So this is my truth:

I am a Black woman called to leadership in a predominantly white church.

I will continue to call a thing a thing and speak truth.

I am not despairing because I know that many have gone before me who have endured much worse for much longer and kept the faith.

My hope does not reside in this church, it resides within the promises and power of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I still deeply love my church, in its varied expressions and with its varied strengths and its varied weaknesses.

In the midst of all of this, I can only think of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words in his Letter From a Birmingham Jail:

“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

I pray that as a collective body, as the church I desperately love, that we will continue to seek the truth so that we can all experience liberation and abundant life.



94 thoughts on “The Truth Shall Set You Free

  1. Ulysses III says:

    Reblogged this on LOOSE CHANGE and commented:
    From a friend.

  2. Emily Gallo says:

    The Charleston shooting hurt so many people. I go to an all-white Methodist church in a Norman-Rockwellian sort of NY town; our pastor’s sermon that Sunday invited members of the congregation to share their heartache over the shooting. It seemed that almost everyone needed to speak. Yes, it’s probably a racist little town, but this horror transcended that. These victims were humans before all else.

    I thought you might be eased a bit to know that. As for your critics, these are so-called Christians?!? Yikes.

  3. Ginger Metcalf says:

    Well said!

  4. khurty says:

    Thank you for your brave leadership in the ELCA! You used well a teaching moment for all of us! God bless your continuing ministry among us!!

  5. Holly Johnson says:

    This is an important Lutheran voice-I have forwarded it to my colleagues in the administration at PLTS and others, so that it might be another entry point into our ongoing conversations here at the seminary about dismantling our own racism. Thanks for your help in this, Rozella.

  6. Cheryl Gorvie says:

    May God bless you in your work and continue to speak through you. And what kind of church doesn’t grieve with someone who is grieving? What kind of church blames someone for the hurt they feel? This kind of behavior is shameful, and good on you for calling it out. When one part of the body suffers, ALL of us suffer. We have been suffering under racism for far too long, and it’s time to continue seriously with the work of dismantling it.

  7. Cannot add more to the love, respect and gratefulness, etc, expressed on your blog already. As an ELCA clergy member since 1986, I have ALWAYS felt like a fish out of water. Even though I am a white male, I grew up economically disadvantaged in a working lower class family of a major city. I was the first to complete a college degree being the youngest of four siblings. I grew up learning no formal religion, much less Christianity. I was 19 when I first attended a church service, not counting funerals. As a result of my background, I have always been oriented toward those who culture and society largely discount and ignore accept perhaps as a statistic (crime, poverty, drugs, etc). I have felt very much a “lone wolf” in a sea of tigers. I am better these days as I near my 60th decade of living, but the regret and sadness (sometimes anger) I feel for the bubble we know as “religion” in general and denominationalism (Lutheran or otherwise) specifically is as strong as ever, if not more so since I became a Lutheran member 36 years ago. Being human (awareness) and suffering is what links us all together. It, more than religion, is “the tie that binds us together.” It is always my hope and belief that through intentional awareness and understanding through our collective and individual suffering, we may grow and cultivate communities and, yes a world, that is more generous, peaceful, compassionate and just. Indeed, it takes courage to be human…a LOT of courage. May you continue to trust the courage and love that is you. May you be safe, happy and healthy in all you do, especially if you feel called to be “truth teller” in a denomination and a society and culture that is in severe short supply of! Your voice is strong and needed. Sincerely in God’s mysterious love and mercy.

  8. Chris says:

    What a blessing it is to have met you! This saddens my heart. It saddens my heart that you have felt alienated in your own community. It saddens me that people who are in your inner circle have belittled your thoughts and feelings. You speak from the heart, not out of anger but out of a need to make sense of it all. I too have always been Lutheran. It’s a part of who I am. I grew up in an all white German church in an all white German community. You are correct, we don’t understand our white privileges. I honestly never think about it until something happens and it’s in my face. Thank you for reminding me that despite how far we’ve come we still have a long way to go. I pray that your gifts will continue to bless your community and our church.

  9. Ron McClung says:

    Dear Rozella,
    Thank you for your powerful insights and for speaking the truth in love. I am profoundly struck by your convicting words, especially about how in the ELCA we have unrepentant sin in regards to clinging to structures of white privilege. Your unique perspective allows you to call a thing what it is, and I understand this to be a theology of the cross. I was ordained in 2008 and am not a lifelong Lutheran, but came from the Pentecostal world. This has given me a particular perspective that those who want to protect the status quo in the ELCA often resent. Yet I firmly believe that without transformational leadership, the ELCA is doomed. We need your voice, even though some of our sisters and brothers do not yet have ears to hear.
    I am so glad you will be speaking at the National Youth Gathering in Detroit in a couple weeks. I am coming with my Daughter and I am excited that you will be one of the important voices that will help shape this young generation of Christians in our church.
    Keep on calling a thing what it is. We need your prophetic voice. And, may we all have ears to hear.
    Your brother in Christ,

  10. Reblogged this on Jerusalem Praxis and commented:
    Clarifying thoughts on layers of personal awareness and institutional complicity, as well as the possible limits of institutional leadership. With Rozella, “I am a part of a church that raises racist white people who then kill people of color who are educated in our institutions.”

  11. My heart broke to read your blog. I am a white woman ELCA pastor who is battered, broken, and racist because I am part of a racist institution. I’ve been ordained for 33 years and I know the sexism intimately. I cannot imagine the racism on top of it. Thank you for your profound words and know that there are white members of this church who were also devastated and heartbroken about what happened at Mother Emmanuel AME church. There are white people preaching the truth about racism and calling our sisters and brothers out on it. Thank you for your courage and your ministry and for calling me out. I pray you will someday find a true home in our church.

  12. Scribe says:

    “Comfort the distrurb and disturb the comfortable.” As a Black recovering Catholic, I’m also familiar with the dealings of race and racISM, not to mention sexism in the church.

    I hope some of your congregants can realize their own selfishness, and realize that the truth is always meant to be comfortable.

    • Peggi Erickson says:

      I am a white recovering Catholic… and I second your assessment. I was part of an all white congregation so racial issues were rarely mentioned…. but racism was alive and well there. And blatant sexism. All reflected in my family also. Now I am working on educating other white people on racism and committed for the long haul.

  13. Shawn says:

    Thank you for writing about your experience!
    I have had great difficulty grieving and letting go of my naïve and idealistic expectation that the Church be a safe place where people can authentically express their hurts and doubts without being shamed or attacked.
    I know I need to put my faith in Christ and not an institution, but it’s hard when you’re not safe with some members of that institution.
    It took courage and faith to be vulnerable and risk writing what you did!
    I found your words to be strangely comforting as well as inspiring and hopeful. Thank you!
    May you continue to know and share the love of the Triune One who holds you!

  14. Jen Boyd says:

    I am sorry that there have been negative or even apathetic responses to your cries of despair and struggle. I am inspired and challenged by your words to be more aware of that innate white privilege that I forget that I have and to learn to voice how we treat you and other people of color differently. I can no longer be complacent and I thank you for that
    Peace in Christ, Jen

  15. Thank you for your honesty! Thank you for your truth! Thank you for THE truth! Thank you as MY voice! THANK YOU!

  16. CreoleBette says:

    This is why I left my Catholic parish church in Atlanta, Georgia. As one of the few black Catholics in my parish, I endured growing micro aggressions and outright hostility after the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Eventually, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

  17. K. J. Barrett says:

    The Holy Trinity Says it All, In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit we are One! Amen Amen!

  18. caelesti says:

    My fellow Auggie, Alexis Twito shared your post with me. Hugs/Solidarity! I’m UU & a Celtic/Norse Pagan, which are both super-white communities. In the time since Ferguson (seems a long time ago) I’ve been glimpsing pieces of the all the crap people of color have to deal with, while trying to educate my fellow white folks. Which sometimes results in similar reactions to those you describe. People getting mad, defensive, etc. I get frustrated, but it’s purely optional for me, and reading stories like yours keeps me going.

  19. caelesti says:

    Reblogged this on The Lefthander's Path and commented:
    One of my fellow Augsburg alumnae shared this- it is about being a Black woman leader in the ELCA, but many of the issues she speaks of are the same in Pagan, Heathen & UU as well as non-religious mostly white communities

  20. Kristen says:

    Thank you, so very much, for sharing your heart and your thoughts. Your commitment to authenticity and truth is beautiful.
    I am currently an ELCA seminarian, pursuing a call to leadership in this Church. And I think your observations are right and true. I am white, but I was raised in a culturally and ethnically diverse area that was more sensitive to issues of racism and prejudice than most. My heart aches for this church, that cannot see how blind it is and how colorblind it is not. I pray for our repentance, and pray that all congregations in this Church will one day reflect the diversity of their respective communities.

  21. Peggi Erickson says:

    These attempts to “put you in your place” are insulting and demeaning. Your church community should be listening and learning, not trying to correct your behavior… they have their own behavior to correct. They need to reflect on their racist reactions and re-educate themselves. Hang in there…. but if it gets too tough, I would go to another congregation. Maybe this one does not deserve you… religion does not equal God…. and certainly one congregation does not.

  22. rguengerich says:

    Thanks for sharing. I have come to realize that nothing is solved overnight or within a year or 5 years. Any issue of injustice takes generations and constant conversation from people such as yourself to state that all is not well. My Dad was an ELCA pastor. He preached from the pulpit the year the movie “Guess Who is Coming to Dinner” came out (1969ish???). He told the folks in the small Texas town that this movie was important to see and conversations arose as a result of the movie. Someone asked my Dad how he would feel if one of his daughters married someone who is black. My Dad commented that he would welcome him into the family. Well my oldest sister did marry a person who is black and they have 3 children who are grown. Now the next generation in our family, my daughter, has been dating a person of color. I am proud of my Dad, the training he received from the ELCA church about racial issues and the courage he had to speak out. Attitudes do change over time. I am proud of you as well for daring to share with us. The Lutheran church isn’t perfect but God is working through you to continue to move us in the direction of love. Thank you!

  23. Dear Rozella, The pain you feel is potently expressed in your words. That you have met with criticism for expressing that hurt is, to me, a sad statement – not just regrettable, but evidence of a lack of compassion that I have trouble understanding. When I found out the the perpetrator of the violence in Charleston was brought up in the ELCA, I too felt shock, shame, confusion and a host of other things – and I’m white! What you feel must be even deeper as it calls into question your place in this expression of Christ’s Church. My prayer is that this man’s hatred was not kindled in some tangible way by his church. Our challenge is to reflect on how his presence in our church did not somehow stem the hatred of the culture from poisoning his soul.

    I guess what I hope is that you will not give up on this frail and sin-filled body known as the ELCA. Luther taught that if each of us is simultaneously saint & sinner, then the church as a whole is “magna peccatrix” – the biggest sinner. I pray that you will continue to bear the burden of being both one of us – and also different than so many of us, so that we continue to be called to express the diversity of God’s reign. I despair that the one who committed these acts of violence came from us – and I pray for him and his family. But in that despair, I also rejoice that the ELCA was a place for Rev. Pinckney to learn and grow. But what gives me the most hope is that this church raised you too. In your words and your witness, in your service and commitment, I find hope that our collective mission has not been in vain. If the shooter is the only part of the story – I doubt my reason for going on and my place in this church too. But you and your presence in this church tell me all is not lost. Don’t give up on us Rozella. – Tim Olson, Pastor in the Broken ELCA.

  24. Christine Z says:

    Respect, Love and Peace. From a white ex-Lutheran who couldn’t agree with you more.

  25. Dianne says:

    Dear Sister,
    I apologize for myself, for all my numb, thoughtless sisters and brothers. I’m not Lutheran, but might as well be. Our congregation is mostly white, too, as is every congregation I’ve ever belonged to. At *this* point, our worship is led by a woman of understanding and sensitivity, who could not let the enormity of the murders in SC go unmentioned. Even so, I never paused to consider how our tiny minority of black members felt about the events of the week, and how they might need special support, a special space to be heard… We love them, and they are ours, but in our effort to be post-racist, we have been color-blind. Thank you for writing and sharing. I needed to hear what you’ve said. It is my prayer that your congregation will learn and grow into the church home that you deserve. And mine too.

  26. Lucia says:

    Thank you for speaking your truth. May your truth be heard by all who need to hear it and may it awaken in all of us deeper compassion for one another!

  27. […] and grieving after the tragedy in Charleston and of people affirming me and showing support of my last blog post. I can only think about the words in the Apostle Paul’s letter to Philemon in the New […]

  28. Bob Gahagen says:

    Pastor Bob Gahagen says:
    Thanks Rozella.

    That was a great and courageous letter because you shared your pain and struggle of being a pastor in our ELCA in the midst of tragedy that is so painful.

    There is a sentence that really jumped out at me.
    “For the first time in my life, I felt like the church that I deeply love and has raised me was actually not my church.”

    It touched me because I can say the same, except that I can’t say this is “the first time in my life.” Those words helped me put a finger on my own struggle as a pastor within the church I love and what really gets the best of me.

    I confess that my struggle is nothing compared to yours as Black and a woman. As a White pastor in African American-African Caribbean ELCA churches for 42 years I can say it is a never-ending struggle within us because we cannot ignore it and the frustration with our church is so overwhelming that it depresses us. I can honestly say nothing gets me down more than seeing that we make such little progress in our ELCA.

    I pray that the day will come when our church realizes that the deaf and blind that Jesus heals are people like us who cannot hear or see and who are also mute when it is time to speak the truth in love.

    I am grateful that Bishop Eaton is not mute.

    I also thank you for the good words of encouragement as you remind us, “My hope does not reside in this church, it resides within the promises and power of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

    Amen! Indeed, the battle is the Lord’s and I am grateful that you are a soldier in the battle to reclaim the soul of this church we love. Your courage uplifts me.

    Thanks! Peace and Blessings,
    Bob Gahagen

  29. Brandy says:

    Wow. Thank you for your honest, heart felt words. Thank you for daring greatly, for taking a risk in calling us all out. I too was devastated to hear that Roof was a member of an ELCA church. I was also devastated and extremely surprised to read Bishop Eaton’s official response to the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, so close on the heels of the Charleston tragedy. I immediately replied back to her that as a gay Lutheran who had finally found what I thought was a “safe” spiritual home in the ELCA, I felt demeaned and devalued by her comments. I don’t understand how our leadership can’t see that it is exactly this type of condoning of discrimination and bigotry that led to us raising a racist among us.

  30. Toni Dufrene says:

    Dearest Rozella,

    I’m not a church leader. I’m not theologically educated. I do work in my Lutheran church and, coming from a Southern Baptist background laden with guilt, felt like I had finally found a spiritual home here. I still feel that way. However, my own experiences in my job have shown me that ordination does not eradicate the human-ness. I have been hurt and dumbfounded by the callousness and lack of understanding from a church leader. I have heard the stories of priests molesting children and their superiors “sweeping it under the rug”, of pastors abusing a trust-based relationship by stealing from a friend and co-worker. There have been other stories of behavior unbefitting a person “of the cloth.” From this I have learned that it’s important to my soul to remember that we are all human and that God loves us anyway. I still haven’t determined if it’s because of or in spite of our humanity. It’s very disillusioning and disheartening to encounter this kind of behavior, but, for me, I try to remember to bless them and pray for them. Your blog covered much broader issues, and I agree with you that our church and our nation need to and must do better. I will do whatever I can on this front. But your comments regarding the hurt, abandonment and finger-pointing you experienced from your peers crushed me. Home should be the place where you feel safest and free to express all emotions. You didn’t get that and I’m truly sorry for that.

  31. […] placed upon me and coming to terms with the fact that I’ll be working under an institution that still has a lot of work to do within itself. There is a lot of stuff going on in this world […]

  32. Rob Moore says:

    Hi Rozella,
    It brings me joy that your voice is still a voice in the church – and in the expression of the church called the ELCA. I am now serving a congregation that is made up of Dr. King’s “white moderates.” The good news is that we are challenging ourselves to see things differently. One of our guiding principles is to “welcome and accept people where they are.” For me that means unchurched, kids, people of color, people whose primary color is other than English, and the LGBT community.

    This past Sunday, in light of the brutal racism experienced at Emanuel AME church, I stated that “Together, together we must stand up and say no more. No more racism. No more sexism. No more side comments or off-color jokes or keeping to our own kind, whatever that might mean. No more. Not in our sight. Not in our hearing. Not in our world. Not in our church, because in our church, because in our church, we welcome and accept people where they are.”

    Dear sister, this is what I promise you as one of those white, middle class, Christians – we will be intentional in lifting up the sin of racism in our congregation, in our community, and in our church. We will be intentional in building relationships with congregations in our community that are predominately African-American. We will be intentional in our actions in the hope and prayer that our hearts and souls will follow. We cannot “cure” racism but I promise that I will continue to work to break down the walls that we have put up in the past.

    Blessings to you in your call and your ministry.

    Your friend in Christ,

  33. […] I’ve recently written about my disillusionment and pain in the face of modern day realities an… The past few weeks have continued to be a struggle as people of color have continued to die senselessly. Seeing the Pew Study’s results in light of modern day occurrences and a lack of coordinated efforts among faith communities makes me wonder, what am I even doing? Many have probably been asking this of the church for much longer, but I feel like scales are falling from my eyes and I honestly don’t know what to do. […]

  34. Anita says:

    Thank you.

  35. debstromb says:

    I’m awake in the middle of the night with a ‘struggle’ headache, and thought of this post…I’m processing how to share my discomfort with the (white) “history” in my recent trip to Boston, Lexington & Concord this past week (‘freedom trail’ of Colonists = oppression trail for natives/blacks), on top of my frequently-occurring desire for fleeing my very privileged, white, suburban Portland neighborhood & ELCA church, which are both so slow to want to confront racism and repent of our racist ways. As a German/Norwegian white ELCA woman, I started out as complacent as most, but my heart has been deeply touched through spending time with Lutherans in El Salvador and in Palestine who understand the gospel’s good news of ‘freedom’ (especially to the captive & oppressed) in a far more radical way than most of us privileged white folks in U.S. churches understand (as unknowing oppressors). I see complacency as oppression now, and since Ferguson, I feel an urgency that won’t let me rest in uncovering that complacency as a sin we must face.

    Thank you Rozella for your truthful words…when I feel alone or exhausted in my efforts to lift up liberation and abundant life for ALL, I will cling to your truthfulness to re-energize my call to my community to come to repentance! You are a gift and inspiration.

  36. […] How does one really reconcile that in their mind? […]

  37. […] How does one really reconcile that in their mind? […]

  38. […] read a powerful personal reflection on the Charleston massacre and being a black leader in the predominan…. She also reflected on Isaiah 58. Later, she […]

  39. […] that the Gospel lesson was from John 8:31-36, which speaks to knowing the truth and being set free. I’ve written about that before and it didn’t go so well. Or maybe it did because it pissed some people […]

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