Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
There has been much conversation around the issue of race within our society and within our church over the past few years. At the 2018 Northwest District Convention the delegates approved a resolution to address the issue through the establishment of a task force. The task force brought forward overtures to the 2022 Northwest District Convention and, with the help of the Northwest District’s staff, produced a collection of materials to assist the people and ministries of the District in facing the challenges present in our culture and within ourselves. These materials have become known as the Speaking the Truth in Love Toolkit.
There has also been significant conversation around the toolkit and its use. I believe this issue is of such importance that we must continue to raise it and consider its impact in our culture, in our neighborhoods, and in our church. You might notice the omission of the term “racism.” This is intentional, because the use of this term focuses us on the problem and not the healthy response we are seeking. It is important that we consider how we are called to respond to people and not to react to an issue. The toolkit itself has been edited to reflect this and to bring together all the parts into a meaningful whole. In the spirit of following our Lord, Jesus, into a new year, I am bringing it forward once again and commending it to your use in your ministry. I do so with the following reminders:
- The toolkit is not intended to make a political statement or do anything other than focus our attention on how we relate to one another as God’s beloved people. There are no hidden motives behind its development.
- Ministries should feel the freedom to use and adapt the materials for their unique setting. The Northwest District is a diverse group of ministries in a wide range of settings, and adapting studies such as these is a local responsibility.
- Speaking the truth in love is a Biblical principle that should be the foundation of all our interaction. It is God’s picture of how we should relate to one another.
The intensity of the outcry in our society has lessened a bit since the toolkit was first introduced, but our sense of urgency and concern for one another should remain high. I encourage and urge you to take another look – even if you’ve used the study before – to consider how it might be a blessing to your community life in the future. God bless us all as we seek to speak and to live God’s love and truth in all our relationships.
Serving the Lord and His Church,
Rev. Dr. Paul Linnemann
President of the Northwest District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod