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African American group to restructure

The African American Lutheran Association will restructure the organization following a low turnout for its eighth biennial assembly July 21-24 in Philadelphia. Of the ELCA's more than 50,000 African American, African and Caribbean members, only 119 people, including 44 youth, attended the event.

"It's obvious that if we were really effective with our structure there would have been many more members at the assembly," said Addie Butler, ELCA vice president and AALA member.

Participants called for a reorganization of AALA, citing disruptions in leadership and uncertain participation. They authorized a task force of at least nine people to "examine and review the current structure and make recommendations for the organization's future" by the AALA governing board's spring 2002 meeting. Plans for the 2003 AALA assembly in New York include a survey of attendees.

Eric Campbell, director for African American ministries with the Commission for Multicultural Ministries, said it was "evident that the organization isn't fully representative of people from across the board."

Participants also voted to support an organizational name change to either "All African Lutheran Association" or "Association of African Lutherans in Action" to reflect all people of African descent.

"We have our work set aside for us," said AALA's new president, Annette Sample of Philadelphia. "We have realized that we need a new direction if we are to continue to exist. ... But I think we are up to the challenge."


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