Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am in touch with you again today even as I am headed to Charleston, S.C., to be present at the funeral tomorrow of the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, who was pastor at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and was a graduate of the ELCA’s Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary.
Yesterday I shared with you a worship resource titled “Service of Prayer in Remembrance” for use in this Sunday’s worship services. Today I am sending you a revised version of this resource, now titled “Service of Repentance and Mourning.” The revisions are significant and important; I would not be in touch again today if this weren’t the case. I received valuable feedback from several quarters yesterday, and I decided it was worthwhile to incorporate these responses into a revised worship resource. I hope you will be able to make good use of it.
I understand that it may be difficult for some congregations to incorporate this liturgy (or portions of it) into this Sunday’s services. And I know that many of you offered prayers in response to the Charleston shooting in last Sunday’s worship. We will need to be praying about, and acting in response to, this act of racism and hatred, and the sin of racism, for a sustained period of time. I encourage you to use your good discernment and judgment to be creative, flexible and resourceful in how and when you address this situation in your congregations – in worship, in education and discussion, in your collective actions. While this Sunday is designated as one of repentance and mourning for the ELCA, our attention to this cannot be limited to one particular day.
Included again for your use this Sunday is the public statement I made June 18, the day after the shooting in Charleston. Share this with your congregation.
Thank you again for your ministry and all you do to share the good news of Jesus Christ and God’s healing, redemptive power.
Your Sister in Christ,
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America