On the Lived Theology Reading List: Dear Church

Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US, by Lenny DuncanA Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US

In Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US, Reverend Lenny Duncan uses his unique background and perspective to point out the problems he sees in his denomination, and in the Christian community at large. Formerly incarcerated, Duncan is now a black preacher in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which is the whitest denomination in the United States. Although many people may blame shifting demographics and shrinking congregations for a less vibrant community, Duncan sees something else at work, and draws a direct line between the church’s lack of diversity and the church’s lack of vitality.

Dear Church is a book that is part manifesto, part confession, and all love letter, and encourages the church to rise up, dust itself off, and take on forces of this world that act against God: whiteness, misogyny, nationalism, homophobia, and economic injustice. Duncan calls everyone—leaders and laity alike—to the front lines of the church’s renewal through racial equality and justice.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

Rev. Lenny Duncan is a voice calling in the wilderness. I am deeply grateful for the comfort and the discomfort his book brought me. I dare you to read this book, church. I dare you to be open to the repentance it calls for, to the grace it manifests, to the pain it witnesses to. I dare you to be changed by the truth in its pages. I dare you to not look away. It’s time.” Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastor and New York Times bestselling author of Shameless: A Sexual Revolution

“Our brother Lenny Duncan has crafted a masterful and heartbroken indictment of where the Lutheran Church could be and where it is instead. He stands fiercely grounded in the Lutheran tradition of revealing our own brokenness, proclaiming our hope in Christ, and challenging us to live into love of neighbor. His individual experiences and our churchwide practices are woven together in an unsettling illustration of how the American idol of white supremacy has laid the foundation for a wide array of vitriol, from Dylann Roof to transphobia to the election of the forty-fifth president. Prepare yourself, church. This is a love letter you have to read–and a proclamation that will leave you convicted.” Emmy Kegler ELCA Pastor and author of One Coin Found

“Lenny Duncan has given us a bold and fearless book filled with unsettling but indispensable insights into the stranglehold white supremacy inflicts upon our churches. At the same time, we feel a holy, ferocious love radiating from every page. This book should be required reading for all who love our church and lament our failures. If you don’t come away breathless, hope-struck, and fired up for revolution, check your pulse.” Heidi Neumark, Trinity Lutheran Church Manhattan

For more information on the publication, click here.

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