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Should Congregations Opt Out of Some Legal Protections for Faith Groups

A lot of the work done to reform the church is done in private and never noticed. We do the work anyway because it is important. We share some of our work here at Just Lutheran in an effort to be transparent and in hopes that others will consider similar efforts.

On July 1st, my first day in office as Bishop, our Synod intentionally opted out of legal protections that allow faith groups to discriminate or discourage the reporting of racism. We did this because of the painful stories we heard about retaliation towards BIPOC leaders.

racism reporting employee handbook
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Employers and communities may want to avoid reports of racism, especially public ones, but we see efforts to allow for safe reporting of racism and misconduct as a necessary and ethical step towards helping our Synod move authentically towards our commitments to decrease and renounce racism. We want to be a Synod where people can report racism and misconduct without fear of retaliation.

Thank you to each and every person expressing your hurt, pain and the places you have been injured by racism in the Sierra Pacific Synod. Your voices are important and we hope to continue listening, educating ourselves and reforming. We are committed to be ever-reforming both in our public and private work.

When folk accuse me of things I immediately share it with my accountability partners. This includes checking in formally and informally with synod council, other bishops, deans, synod staff, committee and discipling team leaders and other groups at the center of an issue.

I hope all pastors, deans and church leaders have similar accountability teams and greet all grievances as serious matters that always require listening, education and reformation. Paulo Freire is an important leader for me in how this pattern repeats.

As Lutherans, we believe that loving our neighbor involves speaking the truth in love to each other. What does this mean? We call people into right behavior through kindness and we seek to learn and do better as a kindness to our neighbor.

May we be ever-reforming people who seek to opt-out of discrimination and opt-in to kindness.

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