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By The Rev. Lisa isenhower

The 2023 South Carolina Synod Assembly received a resolution on Living into the unity of the body of Christ. The resolution asked that the people and congregations of the synod enter a one-year period of intentional Bible study and discernment concerning the nature of the body of Christ, the nature of the three expressions of the ELCA (churchwide, synod, congregation), and the relationship between the body of Christ and our three expressions “for the purpose of doing God’s work in the world and proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.”

The resolution, submitted by the Reverend Bobby Morris and the Reverend Arden Hallman, calls for the bishop’s office to provide resources to conferences and congregations to facilitate this intentional one-year study. Reflections and conversations from the studies are to be shared at the 2024 SC Synod Assembly.

The resolution, recommended to the assembly for approval by Ms. Linda Shealy, chair of reference and counsel, was made in the light of the ample scriptural evidence that Christian unity is God’s desire for the church.

Rev. Bobby Morris stated that the church has “… been dealing with differences … since Acts chapter 10. We’ve never agreed about everything, and that’s not a bad thing. The problem is when that divides us. One of the issues that we’re up against is that there is money to be made when the flames of division are fanned. We can fan flames too, but we can fan flames of unity. Unity in the body of Christ. What better way than immersion in our sacred scriptures? Let’s talk about our differences and our unity in the midst of those differences and do so with scripture and the Holy Spirit as our guide.”

Rev. Arden Hallman agreed with Rev. Morris, saying that he gets “…tired of seeing folks use scripture to drive us apart rather than bring us together. In the last 30 years we made a big mistake when we decided that we did not want to be controversial…I think probably because we were afraid. If we don’t deal with the kind of stuff people want and need us to talk about, then we are missing what that man from Galilee was talking about.”

One member of the assembly expressed concerns about whether there was a specific agenda with issues that will become the focus of study. Another stated that he was troubled by some of the language of the discussion. He found the mention of disaffiliation “triggering.”

Andrew Boozer, a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Pomaria, spoke emotionally about the damage that disaffiliation has done to his congregation. He noted that the last time he spoke to the assembly was when St. Paul’s church burned. As difficult as that time was, he said that “For the last two years, our church has burned from within, from the pews. During the past year, we took two disaffiliation votes, both passed. Synod council voted not to allow the disaffiliation.” Boozer spoke in favor of the resolution, noting that “I didn’t think [disaffiliation] could happen at St. Paul, but it did. And it happened without a single, intentional, Biblical discussion. The news given from member to member was given from cable news or social media, despite the efforts of the bishop’s office. I wholeheartedly approve this resolution. Take this resolution to heart as rostered leaders. Have these hard conversations.”

The resolution was approved, 254 to 49.

A Resolution on Living Into the Unity of the Body of Christ

A Resolution on Living Into the Unity of the Body of Christ

Una resolución sobre vivir en la unidad del Cuerpo de Cristo

Una resolución sobre vivir en la unidad del Cuerpo de Cristo

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