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CHICAGO (May 29, 2020) — The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has called on the church to join with faith communities across the United States in lament and remembrance, and on our elected leaders to observe Monday, June 1, as a day of mourning to honor the more than 100,000 people who have died from COVID-19.

"I encourage all of us in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to join together across faith lines in this time of collective mourning," Eaton said. "This weekend our Jewish neighbors will remember God's covenant, our Muslim neighbors will recall the reception of the Quran, and as Christians we will celebrate the power of the Holy Spirit present among us. In the significance of these days in our traditions, our faith communities will collectively lament and remember the more than 100,000 lives that have been lost to COVID-19. We join together in prayer for the healing of this nation, and for the world that God so loves."

The day of mourning calls on all religious communities to come together in observing this historic moment in their own traditions and practices. A toolkit and other resources are available for local religious leaders and mayors.  

"We are united – as individuals, as communities and as a nation – in our grief," said Kathryn M. Lohre, assistant to the presiding bishop and executive for ELCA ecumenical and inter-religious relations. "The interfaith community has recognized this and claimed this moment as a time to come together as the Christian family and with our neighbors of other religions and worldviews, to mourn the tragic loss of over 100,000 lives. The faith communities also call upon our elected leaders to designate June 1 as a national day of prayer and remembrance, as a time set aside for national mourning."

Federal and local governments are also being called on to observe the day of prayer and remembrance by the lowering of flags, moments of silence and other methods of reflection.

In contemplation of the gravity of the COVID-19 situation during the season of Pentecost, Eaton, along with the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, invite members to pray for and with one another through a new prayer, "A Prayer for the Power of the Spirit Among the People of God."  

This new prayer for Pentecost was crafted by a team of Lutheran and Episcopal prayer leaders in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will connect the two church bodies in common prayer and remind members of the common mission, wherever and however we may be gathered.

The ELCA and the Episcopal Church are approaching the 20th anniversary of their full communion agreement, "Called to Common Mission."

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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands.," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.

For information contact:
Candice Hill Buchbinder


What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8).


The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) reaffirms its commitment to combating racism and white supremacy following the recent murders of Black Americans. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, and George Floyd were our neighbors. Ahmaud Arbery was chased down, shot, and killed by a retired police officer and his son while jogging in Brunswick, Ga. (Feb. 23, 2020). Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was shot eight times by Louisville Metro Police Department officers who entered her apartment while serving a "no-knock warrant" (March 13, 2020). Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, a 21-year-old from Indianapolis died after being shot at least eight times by an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer (May 6, 2020). George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis while begging for his life, a block away from Calvary Lutheran, an ELCA congregation (May 25, 2020). As the Conference of Bishops, we condemn the white supremacy that has led to the deaths of so many unarmed Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color in our country. We grieve with, pray for and stand in solidarity with the families and friends of all whose loved ones have been and continue to be victims of injustices run amok, racist violence and the insidious venom of white supremacy.

The ELCA's social policy resolution, "Condemnation of White Supremacy and Racist Rhetoric," adopted by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, states: "As persons called to love one another as God has loved us, we therefore proclaim our commitment to speak with one voice against racism and white supremacy. We stand with those who are targets of racist ideologies and actions." As church, together we must work to condemn white supremacy in all forms and recommit ourselves to confront and exorcize the sins of injustice, racism and white supremacy in church and society and within ourselves as individuals and households.

On May 21, the ELCA Southeastern Synod hosted a webinar: "Becoming the Body of Christ – Condemning White Supremacy" in response to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. This is one of many strategic opportunities happening across this church to address white supremacy and racist rhetoric. On June 17, we will gather again as church to commemorate the Mother Emanuel 9 and to repent of racism and white supremacy. An online ELCA prayer service, including leaders from across the church and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton as preacher, is being planned for June 17, 2020, marking the fifth anniversary of the martyrdom of the Emanuel 9. We encourage congregations to reaffirm their commitment to repenting of the sins of racism and dismantling white supremacy that continue to plague this church by marking this day of penitence with study and prayer leading to action.

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton

Presiding Bishop

Deacon Sue Rothmeyer              



The Rev. Tracie L. Bartholomew              

Bishop, New Jersey Synod                                      

Chair, Conference of Bishops


The Rev. Thomas M. Aitken       

Bishop, Northeastern Minnesota Synod


The Rev. Abraham D. Allende    

Bishop, Northeastern Ohio Synod


The Rev. Jon V. Anderson           

Bishop, Southwestern Minnesota Synod


The Rev. James A. Arends           

Bishop, La Crosse Area Synod


The Rev. Daniel G. Beaudoin      

Bishop, Northwestern Ohio Synod


The Rev. Susan J. Briner

Bishop, Southwestern Texas Synod


The Rev. Shelley M. Bryan Wee 

Bishop, Northwest Washington Synod


The Rev. Michael L. Burk            

Bishop, Southeastern Iowa Synod


The Rev. Susan Candea 

Bishop, Central States Synod


The Rev. H. Jeffrey Clements      

Bishop, Northern Illinois Synod


The Rev. Barbara J. Collins         

Bishop, Upper Susquehanna Synod


The Rev. Yehiel Curry    

Bishop, Metropolitan Chicago Synod


The Rev. Patricia A. Davenport  

Bishop, Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod


The Rev. Suzanne D. Dillahunt

Bishop, Southern Ohio Synod


The Rev. James S. Dunlop           

Bishop, Lower Susquehanna Synod


The Rev. Paul T. Egensteiner      

Bishop, Metropolitan New York Synod


The Rev. Paul D. Erickson            

Bishop, Greater Milwaukee Synod


The Rev. R. Guy Erwin   

Bishop, Southwest California Synod


The Rev. Katherine A. Finegan   

Bishop, Northern Great Lakes Synod


The Rev. William O. Gafkjen       

Bishop, Indiana-Kentucky Synod


The Rev. Michael K. Girlinghouse            

Bishop, Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod


The Rev. William J. Gohl

Bishop, Delaware-Maryland Synod


The Rev. James W. Gonia           

Bishop, Rocky Mountain Synod


The Rev. Erik K. Gronberg           

Bishop, Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod


The Rev. Constanze Hagmaier   

Bishop, South Dakota Synod


The Rev. Lorna H. Halaas            

Bishop, Western Iowa Synod


The Rev. Regina M. Hassanally

Bishop, Southeastern Minnesota Synod


The Rev. James E. Hazelwood    

Bishop, New England Synod


The Rev. Mark W. Holmerud

Bishop, Sierra Pacific Synod


The Rev. Robert F. Humphrey    

Bishop, Virginia Synod


The Rev. Deborah K. Hutterer    

Bishop, Grand Canyon Synod


The Rev. Richard E. Jaech

Bishop, Southwestern Washington Synod


The Rev. Laurie A. Jungling         

Bishop, Montana Synod


The Rev. Donald P. Kreiss           

Bishop, Southeast Michigan Synod


The Rev. Wilma S. Kucharek       

Bishop, Slovak Zion Synod


The Rev. Kristen E. Kuempel       

Bishop Northwest Intermountain Synod


The Rev. Kurt F. Kusserow          

Bishop, Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod


The Rev. Laurie A. Larson Caesar             

Bishop, Oregon Synod


The Rev. Michael L. Lozano        

Bishop, Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod


The Rev. Patricia J. Lull  

Bishop, Saint Paul Area Synod


The Rev. Brian D. Maas 

Bishop, Nebraska Synod


The Rev. John S. Macholz           

Bishop, Upstate New York Synod


The Rev. Gerald L. Mansholt      

Bishop, East-Central Synod of Wisconsin


The Rev. Idalia Negron-Caamano            

Bishop, Caribbean Synod


The Rev. Leila M. Ortiz  

Bishop, Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod


The Rev. Michael L. Rhyne          

Bishop, Allegheny Synod


The Rev. Michael W. Rinehart    

Bishop, Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod


The Rev. Peter Rogness 

Interim Bishop, South-Central Synod of Wisconsin


The Rev. S. John Roth    

Bishop, Central/Southern Illinois Synod


The Rev. Craig A. Satterlee         

Bishop, North/West Lower Michigan Synod


The Rev. Laurie Skow-Anderson 

Bishop, Northwest Synod of Wisconsin


The Rev. Timothy M. Smith        

Bishop, North Carolina Synod


The Rev. Kevin L. Strickland        

Bishop, Southeastern Synod


The Rev. Pedro M. Suarez           

Bishop, Florida-Bahamas Synod


The Rev. Ann M. Svennungsen   

Bishop, Minneapolis Area Synod


The Rev. Andrew A. Taylor         

Bishop, Pacifica Synod


The Rev. William T. Tesch           

Bishop, Northwestern Minnesota Synod


The Rev. Steven L. Ullestad        

Bishop, Northeastern Iowa Synod

The Rev. Shelley R. Wickstrom

Bishop, Alaska Synod


The Rev. Lawrence R. Wohlrabe

Interim Bishop, Eastern North Dakota Synod


The Rev. Herman R. Yoos           

Bishop, South Carolina Synod


The Rev. Samuel R. Zeiser           

Bishop, Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod


The Rev. David Zellmer 

Interim Bishop, Western North Dakota Synod


“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and 

your descendants after you”  (Genesis 9:9).

Dear church,

In today’s lectionary text, Genesis 9:8-17, Noah receives God’s covenant. The rainbow becomes a sign of the irrevocable promise of God’s faithfulness and mercy — of God’s peace for all creation. So, too, are we called to be signs of, or witnesses to, God’s peace.

With you, we are alarmed by a completely different kind of sign. As you know, protests against stay-at-home orders have erupted over the past few weeks. Protesting is a valid public expression, but here in Illinois, protesting has included people carrying placards with anti-Semitic messages directed at our governor, J.B. Pritzker. There is a twisted logic in comparing our Jewish governor with the Nazi regime, but the impact of these messages is still to promote anti-Semitism and its evil companions: white supremacy, racism and sexism. We, the ELCA bishops in Illinois, publicly denounce this bigotry here and wherever it occurs. Anti-Semitism is contrary to the irrevocable promise of God and “a violation of our hope and calling” as witnesses to God’s peace (Declaration of the ELCA to the Jewish Community, 1994).

In our ELCA social teaching we acknowledge that there are times when “through faithfulness in its life and activities as a community for peace, the Church in the power of the Holy Spirit becomes a presence for peace that disturbs” (For Peace in God’s World, 1995). This is one of those times. Even as we seek peace amid a pandemic, we must uphold our commitments to our Jewish neighbors. No matter our politics or opinions about our elected leaders and their policies, all of us must come together on the basis of our church’s commitments to “oppose the deadly working of such bigotry” (1994 Declaration).  

In Christ’s love, all of us continue to pray for Governor Pritzker and all our elected leaders as they make difficult decisions intended to protect lives. As a church, we encourage one another to abide by government policies that seek to safeguard the health and well-being of our communities, and to participate in healthy forms of civic engagement.

In peace and in partnership,

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Rev. John Roth
Bishop, Central/Southern Illinois Synod

The Rev. Yehiel Curry
Bishop, Metropolitan Chicago Synod

The Rev. Jeffrey Clements
Bishop, Northern Illinois Synod

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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.

For information contact:
Candice Hill Buchbinder
Public Relations Manager

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