Task Force Addressing Ableism and Task Force Addressing Racism, White Supremacy and Racial Injustice share reports and recommendations

June 30, 2023

Thursday afternoon’s second plenary session for the 2023 ELCIC Special Convention included time to hear from two of the four task forces that will make reports and recommendations to Lutheran delegates.

The ELCIC Task Force Addressing Ableism, as well as the Task Force Addressing Racism, White Supremacy and Racial Justice Issues both shared an introduction to their reports and recommendations, and responded to questions from delegates.

Throughout the 2023 ELCIC Special Convention, delegates will hear from four task forces, all which were formed out of convention action at the 2019 ELCIC National Convention. Each task force has four sessions on the overall agenda – an opportunity to introduce the task force and their work, time for question and answers, table conversation, all which will lead up to a final session where the task force recommendations will form motions for consideration by convention delegates.

During this second plenary session, Judy Verge and Deacon Sarah Rudd presented on behalf of the Task Force Addressing Ableism and Accessibility. Rev. Aneeta Saroop, Richard Kotowich, Rev. Ron Flamand, and Dr. Joy (Mary) Philip presented on behalf of the Task Force Addressing Racism, White Supremacy and Racial Justice. The work of the two task forces have been supported by national office staff members Carmen Ramirez and Rev. Paul Gehrs.

“We as a church have an opportunity to create environments welcoming to all by asking how we can help and then providing opportunity for each person to be their full self as a child of God,” said Deacon Rudd.

“God in God’s infinite wisdom and the gene pool in its immense diversity gave rise to quite a few of us varied in size shape, colour, orientations, ethnicities, abilities, you name it,” shared Kotowich. “There is nothing wrong with that. We are all beautiful. The ugliness or the segregational differences, for that we are responsible…  So, what can we do? Or, better yet, what are we called to do as the church?”

Both groups expressed their gratitude to delegates for their engagement in the question-and-answer portion of the agenda. “It is so fantastic to hear the engaged discussions during the table conversations,” said Deacon Rudd, noting the Task Force Addressing Ableism received over 20 questions to bring back to the question-and-answer portion of their agenda time.

Both task forces received questions relating to resources and in their responses, both task forces highlighted the work of Carmen Ramirez, newly hired at the ELCIC National Office as Assistant to the Bishop for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. A new presentation on Ableism will be available in early 2024, resources for both task forces have been added to the national website, and four racial justice workshops are in the process of being rolled out.

Rev. Saroop urged delegates who didn’t know where to begin this work to, “just try something,” noting that even the well-developed resources available from groups like the Eastern Synod Racial Justice committee had to begin somewhere. “Just try anything,” she encouraged. “Pretend it’s your computer or your printer. Just turn something off and turn it on again. Just trying anything.”

The written report and recommendations from the Task Force Addressing Ableism can be found in Appendix 16 of the Bulletin of Reports, and the report and recommendations from the Task Force Addressing Racial, White Supremacy and Racial Justice Issues can be found in Appendix 17 (https://elcic.box.com/s/f09yav5aleu58wriv77n8fyqhl3lo82y).

The Task Force Addressing Carbon Neutrality and the Task Force Addressing Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia will present their reports in session three of the ELCIC Special Convention on Friday, June 30.

Matthew 10:40-42


40 “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous, 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

John 15:12-17

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing, but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

John 21:15-19

Jesus and Peter

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Luke 11:33-36

The Light of the Body

33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a bushel basket; rather, one puts it on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but if it is unhealthy, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. 36 But if your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays.”

Matthew 8:1-4

Jesus Cleanses a Man

8 When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him, and there was a man with a skin disease who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing. Be made clean!” Immediately his skin disease was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”