African Descent Ministries


African Descent Ministries

African Descent Ministries include African American, African Caribbean and African National communities. They are gifted and culturally diverse. The group in North America and the Caribbean is referred to as "people of African descent" or "the Black People." They represent 13% of the total U.S. population.

In the ELCA there are:

  • 54,189 members of African descent, or one percent of the ELCA’s total membership
  • 252 congregations with at least 25% African descent membership
  • 242 African descent pastors
  • 83 African descent leaders preparing themselves for the ministry.

The Vision

People of African descent in the ELCA are Christ-centered communities in ministry, sharing their gifts, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the power, love, and presence of Jesus Christ. The vision calls us to live out God’s call in and through visionary pastoral leadership, worship, discipleship, stewardship, family ministries, social justice, unity and diversity.

These areas of ministry work together in an integrated, holistic way to build the body of Jesus Christ in mission and to affirm the gifts and leadership of African descent people across the U.S. and the Caribbean.

Contact Pastor Perucy Butiku, Assistant to the Bishop for Multicultural Mission.

Visit the ELCA’s African Descent ministry webpage.

Black Pastors’ Group

The Black Pastors’ Group is a gathering of pastors of African descent in the Metro New York Synod. Established in the mid-1990s, the group provides a forum for worship, study and sharing of common concerns from the various ministries represented. These meetings enable pastors of African descent to affirm our witness to the gospel, share mutual support for our struggles, and unite to enrich the synod with our presence and contributions.

From the beginning, the group recognized that a large annual gathering of leaders of African descent and others in urban ministry was vital to the survival of our ministries. So in 2002, the group founded the yearly Urban Leaders Institute (ULI). This conference brings together the best thinking about urban ministry challenges and the best knowledge on issues pertinent to Black clergy and lay leaders. Keynote speakers have included the Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood, the Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts, the Rev. Dr. Carolyn Knight, and many other gifted urban ministry experts.

The Black Pastors’ Group also sponsors an annual concert to provide help beyond the reaches of our synod. Every church represented in the group takes part in this event, which unites all participants and guests in spirit-filled fellowship and joy. Free will offerings support ministries such as Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina; Holy Trinity Lutheran School in Hollis, Queens; and an internship supervised by several of our churches. 

In addition, the group actively supports African descent candidates for ordained ministry in our synod and at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

Urban Leaders Institute

Held in July every year, the Urban Leaders Institute (ULI) is a three-day conference organized by the Black Pastors Group for ordained and lay leaders. Every year there are many exciting workshops such as on fundraising, transformational ministry, and more. The conference ends with a revival worship service. Everyone is welcome!

The African Descent Lutheran Association (ADLA)

The African Descent Lutheran Association is a "caucus" of ELCA members. Its primary purposes are to:

  • Develop a full partnership between the ELCA and the whole African descent community through evangelism, education, stewardship, worship and social ministry.
  • Encourage members to become fully involved with the affairs of the congregation as well as synod and churchwide assemblies.
  • Help assure that each individual, made in the image of God, will be respected as a unique gift to the community.
  • Provide a vehicle to unify and convey the needs of African descent members of the ELCA in through all existing expressions of the ELCA.
  • Strengthen the Christian bonds of the African descent community of believers. ADLA is also committed to forging linkages between African peoples throughout the world.

ADLA has chapters and leaders of those chapters in every synod. For more information, contact Pastor Linda Bell, president.