Rev. Lenny Duncan, author of “Dear Church” and an anti-racism activist, will visit Wartburg on Monday, Nov. 18. Duncan will begin by speaking at the 10:15 a.m. Chapel service on Monday, Nov. 18, and conclude with the “Dear (College of the) Church …” program at 7 p.m. in McCaskey Lyceum.

“What Lenny is doing is really interesting anti-racism work,” Dr. Caryn Riswold, the McCoy family distinguished chair in Lutheran heritage and mission, said. “That kind of work is relevant, yes for churches like the ELCA [Evangelical Lutheran Church of America] which are overwhelmingly white, but really for anyone who is in a leadership position in an institution that is continuing to struggle with combating white supremacy, thinking systematically about not just not being racist, but being actively anti-racist.”

Duncan’s book “Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S.” revolves around the reverend’s passion to eliminate racism and racist policies within the ELCA, Riswold said. A book signing will be held in the Wartburg Store from 10:45-11:30 a.m. The book will be available to purchase in a limited quantity during the event.

Duncan will also eat lunch with students and visit religion classes on Monday, Nov. 18, in the afternoon. Wartburg is a college of the ELCA and utilizes worship, conversation, teaching and other activities to participate in God’s mission, according to

The ELCA is 96% white, and Duncan falls into the 2% of black ELCA members, states.

“One of the big things is if we’re truly called to embody the message of Jesus, then we are called to racial equality, reconciliation and to always be trying to push ourselves to be more welcoming and hospitable to everyone because the message of the Gospel is for everyone,” Rev. Dr. Brian Beckstrom, dean of Spiritual Life and Campus Ministry, said.

“I think Lenny will help and challenge us to think about that deeply.” Before becoming a pastor, Duncan was homeless and a high school dropout, according to

Riswold heard Duncan speak during the summer of 2019 and invited him to Wartburg. “One of the questions I asked him when I invited him to spend time with us was to address what we as a college of the church can do as part of this anti-racist work,” Riswold said.

“What is unique about our work as an undergraduate institution? What role do students play in doing this? What role does the curriculum play into this? What is our job in this larger project? It resonates with the mission of the college in educating students and the kinds of leadership roles that we play.”

For more information about Duncan, go to







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