The elca is the whitest

denomination in the united states

We cannot critically explore the character of Lutheranism as an "ism" without first acknowledging one vital statistic about a major denomination of American Lutheranism- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The ELCA is the whitest denomination in the United States. *

Not only is it the whitest denomination, but at 96% white the ELCA is also the second least racially and ethnically diverse denomination in the country. (The National Baptist Convention is 99% African American, making it the least racially diverse than the ELCA by 3%).

Acknowledging the predominant racial and ethnic make up of the denomination is a necessary first step in considering to what degree the Lutheran Church's liturgical traditions perpetuate the apparent exclusion of black, indigenous and persons of color. It also enables the public minister or practicing Christian to consider, in a "chicken and the egg" sort of way, whether overwhelming whiteness begets predominantly European liturgical tradition, or whether predominantly European liturgical traditions beget overwhelming whiteness.

What follows below are resources that can help a community counter the impact of disproportionately European liturgical tradition in their worship space by including liturgical language from other cultural Christian traditions.


Masaai Creed

We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created Man and wanted Man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the Earth. We have known this High God in darkness, and now we know Him in the light. God promised in the book of His word, the Bible, that He would save the world and all the nations and tribes.

We believe that God made good His promise by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left His home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, He rose from the grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through Him. All who have faith in Him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love and share the bread together in love, to announce the Good News to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for Him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.

Salvadoran creed

Salvadoran Creed

L: We believe in God,

C: who created us free and walks with us in the struggle for liberation.

L: We believe in Christ,

C: crucified again in the suffering of the poor, a suffering which calls out to the

conscience of people and nations, a suffering which ends in resurrection.

L: We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit,

C: capable of inspiring the same compassion which has led our best brothers and

sisters to martyrdom.

L: We believe in the church,

C: called forth by Jesus and the Holy Spirit

L: We believe that when we gather,

C: Jesus is with us, and that Mary his mother is a sign of living faithfulness.

L: We believe in the Christian community

C: where we proclaim our ideals, through which we practice our Christian faith.

L: We believe in building a church

C: where we pray and reflect on our reality, and share in the prophetic, priestly,

and pastoral mission of Jesus. We believe that one day all peoples will love

under Christ’s gentle rule.

L: We believe in unity in the midst of differences. We believe that Christ calls us

C: to communion and to live as sisters and brothers.

L: We believe that we need

C: to love one another, to correct one another compassionately, to forgive each other’s errors and weaknesses.

L: We believe that we need

C: to help each other to recognize our limitations, to support each other in the faith.

L: We believe that the poor,

C: the illiterate and the sick, the persecuted and the tortured, are always close to

the heart of Jesus. Through them, Christ challenges us to work for justice and

peace. Their cause is our cause.

L: We believe that Christ is also present

C: in those who are slaves to their passions, to vices, lies and injustice, to power and


L: We pray

C: for the possibility conversion; to love those who slander, persecute and kill, and

to help each other so that one day we may all live simply and humbly in the way

that the Gospel calls us to live. Amen.

ELW thanksgiving at the table, form h

The language of this Thanksgiving at the Table comes from This Far by Faith: An African American Resource for Worship. Using language and images from Lift Every Voice and Sing, this Thanksgiving from the Table gives a congregation the opportunity to worship in language that is not solely European in origin. This not only breaks the cycle of over-emphasizing European expressions of Christian worship, but it also promises to resonate with community members for whom this language is familiar.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,

you have brought us this far along the way.

In times of bitterness you did not abandon us,

but guided us into the path of love and light.

In every age you sent prophets

to make known your loving will for all humanity.

The cry of the poor has become your own cry;

our hunger and thirst for justice is your own desire.

In the fullness of time, you sent your chosen servant

to preach good news to the afflicted,

to break bread with the outcast and despised,

and to ransom those in bondage to prejudice and sin.

In the night in which he was betrayed,

our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;

broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying:

Take and eat; this is my body, given for you.

Do this for the remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks,

and gave it for all to drink, saying:

This cup is the new covenant in my blood,

shed for you and all people for the forgiveness of sin.

Do this for the remembrance of me.

For as often as we eat of this bread and drink from this cup

we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again.

Remembering, therefore, his death and resurrection,

we await the day when Jesus shall return

to free all the earth from the bonds of slavery and death.

Come, Lord Jesus! And let the church say, Amen


Send your Holy Spirit, our advocate,

to fill the hearts of all who share this bread and cup

with courage and wisdom to pursue love and justice in all the world.

Come, Spirit of freedom! And let the church say, Amen


Join our prayers and praise with your prophets and martyrs of every age,

that, rejoicing in the hope of the resurrection,

we might live in the freedom and hope of your Son.

Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, now and forever.


ELW Holy Communion Setting 6

In the words of The Sunday Assembly, "Holy Communion Setting Six is an African American gospel - and jazz-style setting. Setting Seven includes selections from Central and South America together with music by Latino composers from the United States."*

Using these communion settings can stretch you community's liturgical palette by introducing songs, melodies, lyrics and imagery from different parts of the world and nation. Every time this is done, a community becomes less susceptible to the isolation and exclusion that comes from drawing from one solitary cultural tradition.