We confess with our Native sisters and brothers that the whole of Creation is God’s work, that God declares it all as good, and that God’s Spirit dwells within it; and we as the church confess that Jesus Christ became incarnate in human form to show God’s love and mercy to all humanity, in all its variety, and to every race and people on every continent of the earth, 

We acknowledge the damage done to the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas by the European migration to what Europeans called the “new world,” but which was already the homeland of many peoples, and we recognize that some Christian churches were, and remain, complicit in that dispossession, and that they helped develop conceptions of Native peoples that continue to perpetuate prejudice and injustice against them and their descendants.

 2016 Rocky Mountain Synod Memorial to the Churchwide Assembly


The Doctrine of Discovery was a set of royal and papal declarations in the sixteenth century that created the rationale for European Christians to seize the lands of the Western hemisphere and displace the peoples who had inhabited them for millennia. These actions that were set in motion by the Doctrine of Discovery led to the deaths of millions of people who had called these lands “home” long before Europeans set foot on them.  

The resources in the right-hand column provide additional background information about the history of the Doctrine of Discovery and the actions taken by the 2016 Rocky Mountain Synod and ELCA Churchwide Assemblies.

The toolkit has been created  to support the commitments made by the 2016 Rocky Mountain Synod  and Churchwide Assemblies, and the continued work of the 2018 Rocky Mountain Synod Assembly, to deepen our repudiation of this doctrine and work toward greater justice and conciliation.


Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery: A Journey Toward Transformation