November 7, 2016
The Rev. Mark Holmerud, Bishop
Ms. Elaine Whitney, Vice President
Sierra Pacific Synod (ELCA)
9985 Folsom Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95827
Dear Bishop Holmerud and Vice President Whitney,
We are writing as members of the Racial Justice team at University Lutheran Chapel of Berkeley.
We welcome the attention of the 2016 Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans to our shared goals of a diverse faith community and the urgent need for anti-racism work in our society.
We note in particular, that Assembly Action CA16.05.18 updates the ELCA's commitment to ethnic and racial diversity, and indicates that [e]ach synod shall submit its goal and strategies to the appropriate churchwide unit or office and shall annually submit a report on progress toward its goals to the Church Council.
We recognize our congregation's responsibility to join in this work of our synod.
Reflecting our synodical goals, the Chapel's 2016-2017 annual ministry plan has us to better reflect the communities we have been called to serve and to partner more boldly with our neighbors to help heal the world. Anti-racism, immigration, and environmental justice are key areas of activity for our parish.
Last year, we distributed 75 books for an all parish big read with the Rev. Sandhya Rani Jha's Pre-Post-Racial America: Spiritual Stories From the Front Lines. In the spring, we organized an all day anti-racism symposium attended by a majority of members of our parish. As well, we funded and co-sponsored a photo exhibition, Humans of Syria, which just this month was exhibited at the Rayburn Office Rotunda in Washington DC. This summer, we renewed our commitment to sanctuary and renovated an apartment downstairs in our parish hall to be used by undocumented migrants under final deportation orders from ICE. This fall, we are reading together Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me and discussing it in small groups, in the liturgy, and at our all parish retreat. Finally, we are seeking to strengthen our partnerships with local organizations -- the East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition (EBIIC), the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy (FAME), and are investigating a relationship with our local PICO affiliate -- BOCA (Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action).
Through our activities, we seek even greater involvement with the synod's commitment to becoming anti-racist and culturally competent. We would welcome an opportunity to gather with you (and others in our conference and synod) to participate in the concrete work of specifying goals, identifying strategies, and moving to implementation.
We are committed to bringing all of the Chapel's members into active engagement with this work as we transform our church and the neighborhoods in which we engaged.
Members of the Chapel Racial Justice Team
cc: The Rev. Jeff R. Johnson, pastor
The Rev. Ned O'Donnell, dean of the Bridges conference
Mr. Sam Tia, president of the congregation
2425 COLLEGE AVENUE