Why the ELCA Needs to Start a Reparations Process: Part 4



Welcome to the 66th Synod.

More on that in a second, but first, here is a centering text from one of the true poets of this land: the Hip-Hop artist. Today I share an excerpt from the song Pulling the Pin, a collab from Run the Jewels and Mavis Staples.

“And at best I'm just getting it wrong
And at worst I've been right from the start
It hurts, I'm bein' torn apart
There's a grenade in my heart
And the pin is in their palm
There's a grenade
There's a grenade
A grenade

At best I feel difficult, poor and you pitiful
Then everyday's like a satanic ritual
Beautiful soul with the rogue and the criminal
How long must the Holy hold onto they principles?
Kickin' and screamin' while watchin' the demons
Collecting the gold and the diamond residuals
My pastor say
"God has promised us paradise, live a good life it is pivotal"
I promised my mama that I would stay honest
But I want it all in the physical
And promise I'm honest, I'll probably be punished
'Cause keeping that promise too difficult
So picture me red as I sit on the bed
With my hands on my head and this pistol too
Why the fuck must I be miserable?
The devils, they do the despicable
And still, they move like they invincible
These filthy criminals, sit at the pinnacle
Doin' the typical, keepin' us miserable
Takin' the most and providin' the minimal
Hate to sound cynical but shit is pitiful, times is just critical”

Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about this seriously for a second. I never once expected the entrenched empire that is whiteness in the ELCA to move one inch on this. I am aware that most folks were advised to not even comment on this topic—to use the most dangerous weapon whiteness has in these moments: utter silence. 

This is called a tactical retreat. The goal is that, in the face of non-resistance, we will lose steam; we will lose momentum. It’s the same tactic the police used on us in PDX after the Feds gassed us for a few weeks. They pulled back, then a few days later, they struck a blow. They almost broke us here that week, but we pushed on. 

Some of us know the stakes. The republic is on the line, as is the very soul of this church. 

I have made my point. I am not playing games. I will not be tamed by this, church. I am not going to be “brought in line”, nor will I change course. 

To that end, now that I have gotten my hands dirty, many of you expressed shock that the guy who wrote the love letter Dear Church would behave in a such a manner. I will not apologize for what I said. You needed to attend to the searing, red-hot anger of Black peoples in this church, which I clearly laid before you. 

I will no longer name the individuals, entities, or folks involved personally. 

We know exactly which group of leaders has remained silent—a betrayal of everything this tradition has stood for over the last 500 years. 

So as usual, it’s up to the people of God.

We are going to do this on our own.

We, the people of God.
We, the ones for whom #Breonna was enough.
We, the ones who have worn hoodies in defiance since #Trayvon.
We, the ones who have begged, pleaded, cried, screamed, choked on tears stuck in our throats at the door of this church, begging it to step into the breach as Black people are under the most direct assault we have experienced in 50 years. 

We don’t need insitutions, their process, their rules, or their permission. You see, while I did not have an expectation of change, I did hope that maybe, by appealing directly to our church; our spiritual head and leader, that this could be avoided. White feelings obliterated that possibility. 

But what happens when the people realize there is really a 66th Synod—a non-geographical synod of like-minded, liberation-centered leaders in this church? What if we organized? You see, we, the so-called progressives and SJWs they make fun of even as they plaster us all over their marketing crap, are the present and the future of this church. What if we began to live into that truth? What if we directed our mission support to a fund overseen by Black woman leaders in this church for the sole purpose of Reparations, first among our own locally, then to Black communities throughout this weary land? 

I’m glad you asked, Beloved.  

I started a GoFundMe for the purpose of raising the 32K I asked this church for, the original 32k I was quietly asked to back down about.

25K is the needed to open an endowment. That’s the minimum deposit to get this started. The remaining 7K will be used to fly in and pay for the intellectual labor of a board of Black woman leaders. They will hopefully create the founding documents, express purposes, and means of Black leaders accessing the funds. This will help us set up the larger goal. 

We need 250,000 members of the ELCA to give $128 in support of dismantling white supremacy in this country. If we cannot get this investment from this many people, then we don’t deserve to be called a church, and none of us should be calling ourselves leaders. 

That’s how we get to 32 million. That’s what we mean when we say #defundchurchwide. We are investing in Black liberation, which we know is collective liberation. Freeing oppressed communities is often called salvation in scripture. It’s called the mercy of God.

This is the work for this week. Share the hashtag. Talk to your councils; your comrades. Ask yourself: if we can do this, what do we need them for? 

Share the GoFundMe. Lets get this done so we can move onto Phase 2, which is gathering the board in the first quarter of 2021 so you can send monthly support to this fund. You see, the empire is betting against you. I’m pushing my chips all in on the people of this church. I’m betting on grace. On liberation. On love.  

Here is the GoFundMe.

Now for some housekeeping.

Your support of this newsletter has been amazing, thank you. We use a reparations model to support this community of United States of Grace. You can find out more about how we do that here. Now that we have started to generate a little bit of monthly income, let’s demonstrate how community works. You see, that’s what money is for, ELCA: community.

I digress.

Yall’s support is just enough to hire an editor to keep our weekly content fresh and clean. Please welcome this bad ass to the team! 

Rose Gwynn (she/her) is a writer, editor, social justice advocate, walking container of concentrated compassion, and giver of no fucks and of all the fucks according to the merits of each situation. A fierce champion for voices of color, she causes the hearts of racists and comma splices to tremble. Rose believes there's no such thing as the voiceless, only the silenced. She has dedicated her work to empowering and amplifying minority voices. You can find out more about her here.

I have the honor to be this church’s obedient servant. 

Lenny Duncan +