Racial Equity

Racial Equity Ministry Team

The Racial Equity Ministry Team is commissioned:

  • To build awareness of racial disparities through educational events in our synod
  • To build capacity to connect congregations and individuals in racial equity work
  • To empower congregations and individuals to join actions that promote racial equity in the policies of our synod
  • To equip congregations and individuals to take action to promote racial equity in programs throughout our synod and our communities.

Now Is The Time Train The Trainer Fall 2023


NOW IS THE TIME is a new study guide that helps congregations wrestle with the meaning of the “Declaration of the ELCA to People of African Descent.” The study guide stresses realism, self-examination and accountability as the church “apologiz[es] to people of African descent for [its] complicity in slavery and its enduring legacy of racism in the United States and globally.”

The Synod Racial Equity Ministry Team and the Synodical Women of the ELCA invite you to participate in a guided “train the trainer” discussion on the Declaration.

There will be five sessions held on Thursday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in September-November (see schedule below)Each session concludes with an assignment, including reading the background material for the coming session. Participants will be encouraged to journal throughout the study. This study is designed as a course to be taken as a whole and allows for building trusting relationships as the participants wrestle with the complexity of understanding racism in the United States and in the ELCA as a church.

Fall 2023 Sessions:

  • September 7, 2023
  • September 21, 2023
  • October 5, 2023
  • October 19, 2023
  • November 2, 2023

Click HERE to Register

Resource Materials:


Presentations: Recordings of Previous Racial Equity Team Conversations

November 30, 2021: “Native Nations Discussion

July 1, 2020: “A Conversation About Race with Bishop Rogness and Rev. Everett D. Mitchell This is the recording of the live webinar that took place revolving around the recent protests and what it means to respond as Christians.

June 2019: “The USA as a Racial State” by Dr. Pamela Oliver (Professor of Sociology at UW-Madison) presents on racial disparities and collective action movements.

April 2019: “Native American Reverence for Land and Water” by Bill Greendeer (Ho Chunk) and Juliee de la Terre (Sacred Water Sacred Land representative). They presented on Native American reverence for land and water and their efforts to introduce legislation to give land the rights of a person, allowing others to represent and defend the land’s rights.

March 2019: “Native American Religions and Restorative Justice” from Michael P. Guéno who is an Associate Professor in the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department at University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. After graduating with a BA from Louisiana State University, he went on to receive his MA and PhD in Religion from Florida State University. He specializes in American religious history and Native American religions, in particular. He has researched and written on a range on Native American groups and topics – from the Effigy Mound cultures of Wisconsin to the Pueblo religions of colonial New Spain to the relationship between Native American religions and contemporary US legislation.

February 2019: “Racial Equity Workshop on the Racial Cultural Spectrum” by Rev Marilyn Miller and Dr Joyce Caldwell who lead a workshop on identifying a racial culture spectrum within a congregation, synod or organization. Each presenter has a rich background in Racial Justice efforts within the ELCA.

December 2018: “Ho Chunk History & Treaty Relations” featuring Henning Garvin, a member of the Ho-Chunk council. Henning’s knowledge of Ho-Chunk history and treaty relations with the federal and state governments as well as current life issues for the Ho-Chunk people make him an excellent resource for us.

October 2018: “American Genocides Project” by Dr. Craig Nessan. One of the central factors for addressing systemic racism in this country involves dismantling the fundamentally flawed, convention narrative used to interpret U. S. history. According to genocide theory, American history has been decisively marked by two genocides: 1) against the indigenous people of this continent and 2) against enslaved African People. The ELCA in assembly has adopted a resolution to repudiate the doctrine of discovery as one step for addressing this history.

September 2018: “Heritage: What to Keep, What to Leave Behind” One of the hardest things to do in life is to learn what to do with our upbringing – the ways we are connected to and learn from our life and development. Using music and prayer, Francisco Herrera be walks us through how he has answered this question in his own life, and how his undertaking has transformed him as an human being and as a follower and preacher of the Gospel.

August 2018: “Bridging Borders: Geography, Culture, Race” Reverend Mary Pharmer lived in El Paso, on the Tex/Mex border for the first 3 months of this year.  She volunteered in a house of hospitality for immigrants coming across the border from Mexico and Central America.  Eager to share stories of this time, she has prepared a visual presentation to share at the Racial Equity gathering.

July 2018: Justice Through the Lens of the Cross Part 2 ”Incarceration and Sacred Space” Panel Discussion Led by Former Jail Chaplain, Christa Fisher. Part Two of Our Series on Our State Incarceration System: ”Incarceration and Sacred Space” – an interfaith conversation about sacred space within a fortress of fear.  How are individuals and community formed or deformed by sacred space – a place for worship, learning, healing, beauty, and sanctuary? These and other questions will be addressed by a panel of people with direct worship experience within the Dane County Jail. Plans for the new jail do not include a designated multi-faith sacred space. Learn why the blueprint must be amended and how you can help make this happen.

June 2018: Justice Through the Lens of the Cross Part 1 ”Incarceration and Sacred Space” Panel Discussion Led by Former Jail Chaplain, Christa Fisher. Christa shared a close look inside our state Incarceration system. Her presentation explored the Trinity of Oppression (Capitalism, Patriarchy, and Racism) as lived out in the Dane County Jail, home to 16,000 people each year – nearly all of whom are poor, and a majority of which are racial minorities. Through personal insights from her 5-years providing spiritual care inside the Dane County Jail, Fisher offered illuminating and insightful stories that force us to reexamine this system of “Justice” through the lens of the Cross.

May 2018: “Reconciliation” Presentation by Dr. Rev. Allan Bosek, an Anti-Apartheid Activist, former President of the World Alliance of Churches and currently serves as the Desmond Tutu Chair of Peace, Global Justice, and Reconciliation Studies, Butler University. 

April 2018:Journey of Immigration & Citizenship: A Personal Story” A personal story of immigration and the path to citizenship by a member of our SCSW-ELCA family. Rev. Erich Hartenberger (St. John’s, North Freedom) and his wife Deazy will share their personal story of Deazy’s immigration and the often-complicated path to citizenship.

March 2018: “The River of Struggle: Black Life in the Americas – Part 3” Part 3 of 3-part series by Stephen Marsh presenting on the history of African kingdoms prior to the slave trade, the Middle Passage and the slave trade, history of slavery in the United States and its aftermath.

February 2018: “The River of Struggle: Black Life in the Americas – Part 2” Part 2 of 3-part series by Stephen Marsh presenting on the history of African kingdoms prior to the slave trade, the Middle Passage and the slave trade, history of slavery in the United States and its aftermath.

December 2017: AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities)” Presentation by Mary Campbell, J.D. on the ELCA program that accompanies and offers support to minors and families who are immigrating to the United States for many reasons.

November 2017: “Indian Nations: History & Cultural Underpinnings of the Oneida Nation” Presentation by Donna Butler and George Swamp featuring books written by relatives of each with a focus on the history and cultural underpinnings of the Oneida nation.