The ELCA African Decent Strategy

This strategy represents a partial dimension of what God doesin and through the African descent community
in theEvangelical Lutheran Church in America. It provides a framework and
sets directions for the vision of this communityas it continues its faith journey.
Here we highlight the Exectutive Plan only, to read the complete stategic plan click the button below. 
ELCA African Descent Strategic Plan
Executive Summary of
Mission Opportunities and Goals

Visionary Pastoral Leadership
Mission Context

As of December 2004 there were 200 rostered leaders of African descent: 113 congregational pastors; 36 seminary faculty, synodical and churchwide staff members, and college chaplains; eight mission developers; four deaconesses and diaconal ministers; 17 retired clergy; five retired associates in ministry (AIMS); three clergy on disability; 12 pastors on leave from call (seven female and five male); one pastor on study leave; and one deaconess on leave from call. According to the Division for Ministry and the Commission for Multicultural Ministries, there are presently 37 students in the Master of Divinity degree program and 49 Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM) students.

A goal of this strategy is that by no later than 2015 there be a minimum of 100 additional visionary pastoral leaders of African
descent preparing or prepared to serve African descent Lutheran

Mission Context

In 1999 This Far by Faith was published and made available for ELCA congregations. This resource shares the gifts of the Black
community for worship. The African descent community is known for its musical gifts and talents, but African descent congregations
are often challenged to find musicians to support the worship experience in the Black idiom.

One goal of this strategy is to increase the number of African descent congregations in which there is freedom for contextualized worship and in which all people invited to worship are able to see themselves in God’s story and in the worship experience. A second goal is to increase the number of musicians available to support worship in the Black idiom. A third goal is to increase the number of worship resources that are ethnically specific to the various cultures of African descent peoples.

Mission Context

Many African descent Lutheran congregations are known for their welcoming spirit and hospitality, social witness, social justice ministries, and positive presence in the community. An evangelical witness and invitation to faith in Jesus Christ are sometimes less evident.

Lutheran congregations of African descent are called to be deep and wide in their evangelical witness and service. Using strategies
that focus on the spiritual needs of people of African descent, congregations will be provided assistance and training to promote
measurable and consistent growth.
Mission Context

The ELCA offers an abundance of faith-formation resources to its congregations. There are resources that have been developed by
and for use in the African descent Lutheran community, such as Rooted in the Gospel, Planning Revivals, and Confession for the Third Millennium: Black Lutheran Experiences. Many Black congregations have engaged in training opportunities around these resources. Historically, the Black Christian community has a strong witness of prayer, Bible study, worship, and sharing of faith stories. African descent congregations can build on this legacy and continue the journey of passing on the faith to the next generation. Making disciples is an intentional response to the Gospel.

A goal of this strategy is to make discipleship a priority over membership.
Mission Context

People of African descent link stewardship to the covenantal relationship with God and the kinship of all people. Traditionally, congregations have been the primary institution supported by this community. Congregations of people of African descent must take a systematic approach in teaching stewardship that includes tithing, holistic giving, and discipleship.

African descent congregations will demonstrate sustained growth, grow in their stewardship of time, talent, and treasure through intentional
planning, education, and understanding of the need to be in full partnership with this church and with their community.
Family Ministries
Mission Context

The task of the Black church is–like that of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Old Testament– to promote spiritual, ethnic, and psychological rejuvenation among a people recovering from captivity; to model and proclaim God's truth to Black men, women and children through evangelism and discipleship so that Christ's sovereign rule will be acknowledged in the family. Weak families suggest weak churches and vice versa! Satan thrives where spiritual authority is weak.12 The first institution was the human family. God created Adam, then Eve to provide for the care of creation. As the family increased, so did the need for God's guidance. “At that time people began to invoke the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4: 26b). “The Black church is often much like an extended family of care, sharing, and fellowship” writes Darlene Hannah.13 In order to provide for that extended family, it takes the whole church to provide for the education, nurture, and inclusion of all the members. As the Black Lutheran church seeks to be a community proud of its history and culture, no member of that family can be left behind.

The goal of this strategy is that every congregation of African descent will support and nurture leaders of all ages.
Social Justice
Mission Context

African descent Lutheran congregations have inherited a grand social ethical tradition from both the historic Black church and the
Lutheran church. From the Black church, people of African descent inherited an understanding that the Christian faith must be
concerned about the body and soul of all members of its context. From the Lutheran church, people of African descent inherited a
strong social ministry network. Both traditions embrace their mission to be a public church that serves and speaks on behalf of the
“least of these” (Matthew 25). The prophetic and priestly dimensions of ministry in African descent communities require Lutherans of African descent around the globe to be attentive to their context. Issues such as HIVAIDS, homelessness, poverty, social justice in the judicial process, economic equality, educational opportunity, and health care accessibility converge on African descent Lutheran congregations in many ways. People of African descent need to be empowered in all arenas in the fight for justice.

One goal of this strategy is to speak God’s Word forthrightly to those systems that continually drive life out of God’s people. 
Unity and Diversity
Mission Context

The very nature of being of African descent is diversity. In the 21st century, the African descent community unites the three largest communities of people of African descent: the African American,the African Caribbean, and the African national. The diverse social, cultural, geographical, and historical presence of the African descent community represents the most under-utilized and significant community in the ELCA. From the tribes of Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States come the richest cultural and spiritual assets that claim kinship in the Lutheran church. The people represented by these communities unite to maintain their spiritual “soul” in the ELCA. Their gifts of connectedness with the earth, family, neighbor, and stranger provide the ELCA a true vision of the future of this church. As a people continually discouraged from witnessing to their oneness with Christ in the literature, art, and music of the religious community, the diverse community of people of African descent willingly offers their gifts to the spiritual community that has cradled them and nurtured them with the means of grace. The African descent community seeks to respond to that invitation by sharing its heart and being with the church. For the past 338 years of Lutheranism in a multicultural context, people of every race in God’s creation have shared the love of Christ through the gifts of the diverse cultures from which they evolved. This reality calls this church to transcend culture and to build relationships with and within communities of color.

The goal of this strategy is to create a strategic team of leaders of the various communities (African American, African Caribbean,
African national) to develop cohesive programs that will createopenings for recognized churchwide leadership, not tokenism.

12 Hank Allen, “The Black Family: Its Unique Legacy, Current Challenges, and Future Prospects,” in The Black Family: Past, Present & Future: Perspectives of Sixteen Black Christian Leaders, ed. by Lee N. June (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), p. 27.
13 Darlene B. Hannah, “The Black Extended Family: An Appraisal of Its Past,
Present, and Future Statuses,” in The Black Family, p. 50.
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