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Former Synod Pastor Publishes Book on the Black Lutheran Experience

May 1, 2014

The Reverend Lonnie Branch, who served as pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Atonement, Atlanta, from 1989-96, has recently published Reflections of Light: The Odyssey of a Black American Lutheran Pastor During the Civil Rights Years. (Kirk House Publishers []). Pr. Branch is remembered by many in the synod as a strong leader among its pastors. Chapter 14, in which he describes his years at Atonement and his leadership in the Southeastern Synod will be of particular interest to members of the synod. ELCA Southeastern Synod Bishop Emeritus Harold Skillrud says of the book, “I was overwhelmed by the early chapters where he described his childhood in Memphis and Chicago. . . .[T]he tremendous differences between his early years as a black child and mine as a white child in Minnesota left me both in shock and remorse. They are worth the price of admission for anyone growing up in the white bubble, totally ignorant of what our black brothers and sister were experiencing. It gave me insight that I desperately needed, even at my advanced age.” The jacket cover has this from Bishop Skillrud: “Fortunately for me, Pastor Lonnie Branch arrived (in the Southeastern Synod) at the time to serve an Atlanta congregation and became president of the Black Pastors Conference. He became a chief advisor and invaluable colleague. Read this story of his life to see the forces that shaped his iron will and compassionate heart.”