The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A dream deferred

A Dream Deferred
By Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

(The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, Vintage Classics, 1995)

Langston Hughes’ powerful and inspiring poem aptly describes the deferred dream of the ELCA’s goal of full partnership and participation of African American, Black, Arab and Middle Eastern, Asian and Pacific Island, Latino, American Indian and Alaska Native people in the life of this church and in society. Currently there are less than 3 percent people of color and people whose language is other than English in the ELCA membership.

Amid this deferred dream, hope springs up out of the ashes. Every member of the Commission for Multicultural Ministries staff has a true sense of call in assisting this church’s members to reflect the diversity they encounter in the communities where they live, work and worship. The staff models for the church how people from vastly different cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds can come together and work, play, struggle and respect each other’s unique differences.

All God’s people continue to operate in a world that is constantly changing. The ELCA churchwide organization also is in the process of changing, reshaping and reforming itself to better serve synods, congregations, the community and the world.

Faithful Yet Changing: The ELCA Churchwide Organization and its Proposed Future Design for Mission outlines a new structure for the ELCA churchwide organization. The ELCA’s unfinished agenda to have a membership of at least 10 percent people of color and people whose language is other than English is important as this church serves God’s people in this new millennium. We continue to live out Jesus’ mandate to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

Webster’s Collegiate Thesaurus lists more than 23 words to describe the word teach. They include: educate, instruct, school, train, communicate, impart, implant, inculcate, instill, edify, enlighten, indoctrinate, prepare, exercise, practice, coach and tutor. These words define the commission’s work—in programs designed to change the hearts and minds of ELCA members.

The commission, working as a part of the church, will continue “speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:15-16).


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February issue


Embracing diversity