For the first time in history, the American Indian and Alaska Native Association (ANAI) and the European American Lutheran Association (EALA), two of the ELCA’s six ethnic associations held their Biennial Conferences together October 18-21 at the Minneapolis suburb of Prior Lake. ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson was the guest preacher at their Thursday evening opening worship.
Almost 50 participants enjoyed cultural sharing, a Book of Faith Bible Study on the cross-cultural book of Ruth led by Dr. Diane Jacobson of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN, and a presentation by two trainers, Robette Dias and James Addington, from Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training, Chicago. Business meetings were held separately.
About the joint experience Liz Gaskins, Bloomington, IN, president of the AIAN said, “Our combined meeting has been a meaningful time for sharing and learning about each other, plus telling of stories and laughing together. It was an experience that was important to the people in attendance and for the church.” EALA president Kathy Long, Seattle, WA said,
This was the 12th Biennial Conference of the AIAN and the 2nd of the EALA. The AIAN began shortly after the ELCA’s formation in 1988. The EALA was not constituted until 2008 and has a mission to be a visible and nameable antiracist witness for a cross-cultural church and a tag line of “partnering for racial inclusion and justice.” It is said 97% of the ELCA’s membership can identify themselves as European American, descendants of European immigrants.