Our Redeemer's Blog

Black History Month with a Lutheran Focus

African-American Lutherans have been in the United States for more than 350 years. The history of black Lutheranism in America began with the baptism of Emmanuel (no last name recorded) at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Matthew in New York City in 1669. Today, much of this rich history and ongoing engagement is the focus of both the African Descent Ministry in the ELCA and the African Descent Lutheran Association.

This month, look for the African Descent Ministry’s Talks at the Desk: Black History Month Video Series. A new video will premiere each Wednesday in February at 9:30 pm Pacific time. Watch them live on Facebook or stream them on YouTube or download them here. Join us to hear youth, young adults, rostered leaders, elders and friends of our communities share their own sacred stories.


The term “African Descent” refers to people who self-identify as Black, African Caribbean, African American, African Nationals and others of African ancestry from numerous countries who now live in the United States. A network of about 255 congregations report 49,000 people of African descent as active participants in the ELCA across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The African Descent Ministry writes, “As people of African descent, it is the gospel of Jesus that gives us the faith and freedom to join with all of our siblings in Christ to boldly participate in God’s work of restoring and reconciling communities in the name of Jesus Christ throughout the world.”

The African Descent Lutheran Association is a “gathering of children of God who celebrate our heritage as Lutherans of the African Diaspora.” Recently the leadership of ADLA joined with Faith for Black Lives and other organizations in a nonviolent act of civil disobedience, occupying the Capitol steps as the Senate refused to pass voting rights legislation.