From a Bishop's Desk

A series of opinion articles and essays from bishop's of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and ecumenical partners.


Pastoral Statement on Anti-American-Asian and Pacific Islander Bias and Hate Crimes

Mar 18, 2021
“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6
My dear siblings, as we begin to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel of the Corona Virus pandemic, other “viruses” in our society that pre-exist the pandemic and have worsened because of it are coming into the harsh light of day. The recent killings in and around Atlanta, bring perhaps unwanted to our attention the reality of bias and hate crimes against Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) members of our communities and throughout our nation. In response to those shootings, a vigil was held on Wednesday night in our own Jackson Heights, Queens neighborhood that drew 200 people (NY Times, 3/18/2021) to remember the victims and mourn their loss.
The onset of the Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in an increase in bias and hate crimes against our AAPI fellow citizens as they have been blamed and scapegoated for what some have inaccurately and disparagingly called “the Chinese flu.”
Are you tired, my dear siblings? Are you feeling overwhelmed at all the bad news? God remains our Rock and our Redeemer and invites us into this work of redemption. Part of that work is to fearlessly acknowledge the sin in our midst and diligently and faithfully work to counteract that sin with grace, love and forgiveness. Racism, no matter the target, is such a sin. Out of love and respect for our Asian siblings in our own synod and churches, we are asked to confront this sin whether it is found within us or in our society and to stand in Christ-like solidarity with them.
The ELCA has suggested this coming Sunday, March 21st as a “Day of Lament Against anti-Asian Racism.” What better time than in the season of Lent to acknowledge the ways we fall short of the glory of God and to seek to repent for the sake of the Easter people Jesus Christ has redeemed us to be? As such Easter people, we “bear one another’s burdens,” as St. Paul says, as if they were our own (because they are). I invite and encourage you into this baptismal call to struggle against “all the forces that defy God.” God’s children in the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community are counting on us.
Should you wish to be more informed and hear personal stories from our AAPI siblings, please click on the links below.
As we look forward to that final Easter, we work together to make room for God’s Holy Spirit to make that day a reality in our lives, congregations and communities. May God bless us and guide us as we follow the call to be Jesus’ disciples of grace and justice.
Your servant in Christ,
Bishop Egensteiner

Anti-Asian Hate Crime Resources

AAPI-ELCA Embodied Blessing and Healing, Day of Lament Against anti-Asian Racism (6:54 min.)

1.  Find out what’s happening.  Join in on actions, and spark more solutions.

“Anti-Asian Hate Crimes: Influencers, Activists Taking a Stand”  
Reflection brief history from SE PA Synod ELCA

2.  Report hate incidents.  Tell others how to.  English/10 Asian Languages. Witnesses too. English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese. To end online harassment.
3.  Connect with/support big picture movements.  E.g.  #ActToChange (to prevent bullying of youth)
4.  Support grassroots programs.  E.g. CACF Social Justice Leadership Institute (3:02 min. video)
5.  Look for, nurture and create signs of hope, with the gifts God has given you.  Everything important takes time and intentionality.  Let us show ourselves as God’s people in this fight, remembering “It’s not me versus you. It’s us versus racism.”
Resources provided by Lily R. Wu, a member of St. Jacobus since 1989.