From a Lay Leader's Desk

A series of opinion articles from lay leaders in our synod.


2022 Churchwide Assembly | Roberto Lara's Vice-President Nomination Speech

Aug 17, 2022


Hermanos, hermanas y hermanes; siblings of Christ in the ELCA: it is truly a privilege to be here alongside these gifted servants. What an honor to be addressing you today, [and] what a gift to be a member of this Church.

My name is Roberto Lara Aranda. I am a former ballet dancer from Mexico City and a recent graduate of Columbia University with a [Master of Science in Strategic Communication degree].

I first encountered the ELCA in this country. As a queer Latino immigrant with an uncertain relationship to the Church, Lutheranism embraced me and taught me that I could have a healthy and loving relationship with God, but more importantly, God wanted to have a healthy and loving relationship with me.

I thank God for this Church’s public witness to embrace queer and immigrant people like me. That public embrace has brought me into the life of this Church. Today I serve as the President of the Latino Ministries Association of the ELCA [AML] and the Assistant to the Bishop for Communications and Development in the Metro New York Synod [MNYS]. Though given my first career, my true badge of honor is to have shared a liturgical dance with the 2016 churchwide assembly in New Orleans.

In short: this Church has loved me, and I have loved it back.

However, this has been a challenging year for the Latiné community in the ELCA. We heard from [members of] Iglesia Luterana Santa Maria Peregrina — their story and how all that followed called into question our capacity as a church body to faithfully address harm to marginalized communities in our Church.

I need to speak a hard but truthful word: during these nine months, many have felt lost. We have loved this Church, but we have felt that this Church has not loved us back. I started questioning if it was even worth leading our Latino Association. However, in conversation with Latiné leaders in our Church, and by the example of the community of Iglesia Luterana Santa Maria Peregrina, I saw that despite our feelings of betrayal and disappointment, we all felt a unifying call: a commitment to the mission of this Church.

Here’s the thing: it might be easy to think this is only about Latiné people in this Church ––– it’s not. If all we hear in this hard but truthful word is what “we’ve done or left undone,” then we miss the point of the Gospel. Speaking a hard but truthful word is what God calls us to embody as Church. And especially this: the Gospel is about what we do when we present ourselves as the reconstituted Body of Christ to the world.

Like the disciples in the upper room after the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are in a fearful, uncertain, disappointing time. But as leaders in the Church, as disciples of Jesus, we can embrace a unifying call: a commitment to the mission of this Church.

Whether or not I am elected, I will remain committed to the mission of this Church, but this isn’t about me; this is about us. [This is] about us looking at ourselves: reviewing ourselves; reforming ourselves, together.

Siblings of Christ in the ELCA: God is calling all of us to embody this mission not merely as individuals but as Church, and thanks be to God, that is what we can and will be.


To view the full speech, click HERE.