REFLECTION FROM DEACON LEXANNE GRAVES
The 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Columbus, Ohio was Spirit-filled beyond measure and I am so grateful for the opportunity to grow closer to Jesus, God’s Church, and my fellow voting members. The theme for the assembly was “Embody The Word”. So what does embody the word look like in our actual daily lives? Try this one on for size.
The Spirit allowed me to have an amazing encounter with Myranda, the bartender at a Columbus restaurant across the street from the convention center. Once she found out I was an attendee at said “church convention”, she began asking me all kinds of questions about being a Lutheran Christian. She shared that she had been raised by Baptist and Jehovah’s Witness family members and that she never felt like she belonged physically or spiritually in either setting. With every question she asked you could see relief come over her and hope filling her up. And she had deep theological questions too—“How does Jesus bring you joy everyday?”, “Right now do you feel like your job is to bring me into your Church pews?”, “Are you afraid of death?”, “If one isn’t on the right path, will the church make them leave?”, “Do you tell others in your congregation what they are doing wrong in their lives?”, “How can you love Jesus and still be allowed to drink alcohol?” It was a holy ground dialogue that lasted 15 minutes. She simply couldn’t believe that an imperfect person like herself would be welcomed in a Lutheran church. And I said “Yes ma’am, Jesus loves you. This is God’s welcoming church, not mine. Who am I to put stipulations on who can or cannot attend?”
Opening up yourself and being vulnerable to a seeking stranger is exactly what Jesus did in his daily life. Jesus did it one conversation at a time. May we embody this same authentic vulnerability every day. It’s not always about having the right answers to another’s questions; rather, it’s about being open to what the Spirit unfolds before you—holy space for two strangers in a bar unabashedly talking about Jesus’ love, grace, and forgiveness.
Embody the WORD.
Embrace the unexpected.
Engage the holy.
Praise be to God!
MEMORABLE MOMENT: THE REV. JACKIE UTLEY
Among several memorable moments of my CWA attendance is that of the presentations from our Church’s Ecumenical Partners. It was during our Plenary Session on Thursday afternoon, when Bishop Eaton expressed her gratitude of having existing relationships with 16 Ecumenical Partners for a couple of years. In her introductions several of them were given opportunity to bring greetings. While each of them gave heartwarming greetings to our Assembly, one of the most electrifying was rendered by Bishop Vashti McKenzie, the Interim President and General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ, USA. I was previously aware that she was the first female Bishop elected in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) several years ago. I was so very fascinated at her opening statement when she expressed that both she and Bishop Eaton shared the commonality of being a ‘first’ in their faith traditions. I marveled at this fact since I have always been proud of sharing that same commonality with Bishop Eaton in the same year of 2013 as a ‘first’ African American female to be ordained as a rostered leader in our Synod. However, much more than this factual tidbit shared by Bishop McKenzie, it was her soul stirring speech that brought the entire Assembly to its feet at her closing. One key nugget that she shared involved the story of one who was born blind and when granted their sight, that one was too afraid to see; and thus, would rather have remained blind. Her encouragement to our Assembly was that as we venture ahead in this work of ministry together as partners, that we will not be too afraid to see and rather remain in darkness. This was a most electrifying and memorable moment!
ELECTIONS: ERIN E. JOHNSON
During churchwide assembly, we elected church leaders to 95 different positions. These leaders represented our regions and synods, were rostered and lay leaders, and varied in age, gender, race and ethnicity. They were elected to church council, churchwide committees and multiple boards. South Carolina was well-represented! Reverend Leroy Cannon (Rostered Minister) and Ethan Miller-Perez (Youth) were elected by the assembly to serve on Church Council. Church Council members are elected to one six-year term, except for two youth members who are elected to three-year terms. We thank Reverend Cannon and Ethan for their willingness to serve and ask for your prayers to guide them throughout their terms.
RELATIONSHIPS AMONG LUTHERANS: THE REV. KRIS LITMAN-KOON
Not many adults would jump at the opportunity to meet with the mother of their prom date 20+ years after the fact, but I was excited by this chance reunion. Such encounters are possible at the triennial ELCA Churchwide Assembly, as well as at the church’s annual synodical assemblies. Not only did I have a delightful time speaking with Mrs. Gensler after all these years, but I was able to reunite with seminary classmates who have been sprinkled across the country by the Holy Spirit, as well as the pastor (now a bishop) who was instrumental in starting me on my path of pastoral ministry.
Attending churchwide assembly is an opportunity to witness the diversity within our broad church: ethnic origin, gender expression, age, first language, ability or disability, and the list goes on. What unites us is the common experience of God’s love transforming our lives, and the mission to share that love in this world. All attendees give witness to God’s work in our home synods, regardless of whether those settings are rural, urban, suburban, snowplow worthy, or are known for having grits as a dietary staple.
On separate mornings I had breakfast in my hotel’s lobby with Jon and Mark from Wisconsin, Hazel from upstate New York, and Tracy from Washington. We had never met previously, but a brief time together over a meal filled us calorically and spiritually. When we would later see each other from among the assembled crowd, delighted greetings were shared over the mass of people; no judgmental glares came from the crowd, because such shouts of hello were the week’s common refrain that we all heard and contributed to.
Most of all, I am thankful to have had this opportunity to better know my fellow attendees from South Carolina. Prior to this experience, I may have known half of their names, but through our shared prayer, discussions, worship, and many laughs, I know that we will all celebrate future opportunities to see one another. Often when people hear of assemblies – both churchwide and synodical – we only think of the business that is conducted. However, these gatherings are also times for God to touch and shape our lives and this world, not just through the business that is completed, but through the small encounters and the relationships that reveal the many and beautiful ways God is working through us all.
Refliction: Susan Troutman
When the Holy Spirit moves:
I am humbled and honored to have represented my siblings in Christ of the SC Synod at CWA in Columbus earlier this month. As Lutherans we know that the Holy Sprit is constantly on the move in, around and through the world. There are a handful of memorable times in my life that I could truly feel the Spirit with me, yet being in community with so many believers of the faith and serving through many important actions at CWA the presence of the Holy Spirit was undeniable.
Times of discernment during our work together where I truly felt the assembly being led by the Spirit included the ecclesiastical ballot process to election of our next ELCA Vice President. Over 2 days and on the fifth ballot Imran Siddiqui, a fellow region 9 member from the Southeastern Synod, became the first Asian American VP of the ELCA, the highest office a layperson can hold in our church. As Imran addressed the assembly after his election with his first words “holy crap ya’ll”, then “this is surreal” and as he continued through his speech, it became evident to me that his election was Spirit-led.
He will bring a varied perspective to this new role for him, using his unique gifts along with his experience from his service as VP of Southeastern Synod. Words from Bishop Elizabeth Eaton reflected on this historic election; “As our church looks ahead to the work set before us by the 2022 Churchwide Assembly, I am grateful for the experience Mr. Siddiqui brings to this position and his commitment to the important work of dismantling racism.”
Worship as an assembly and communion together were also times where I could feel the Spirit’s presence. I was especially moved during the Lord’s Prayer each time. Imagine 800+ participants, many differing versions spoken, many different languages praying together and ending all together …. amazing every time and speaking deep into our souls.
The closing worship service on Friday morning was especially poignant and I have kept the sermon words of Bishop Patricia Davenport that day close in my mind in the weeks that have followed. Quote taken from her sending to us that day: “If we would stop sitting on the premises and start standing on the promises, we would reach more than the one million we are seeking to reach.”
Fellow members of the SC Synod and wider church, we are sent together, with the Holy Spirit working in, around and through us all. May you each feel the blessings of the Spirit always!
REFLECTION: TERRY SWYGERT
I was honored to represent the SC Synod at this year’s Churchwide Assembly. It was a great experience seeing how the church operates as it handles the business side while also staying grounded in prayer, scripture, and worship during week. I was also inspired by the dedication and inclusiveness of the SC Synod group. This was a wonderful group to be a part of. Although there were many “takeaways,” the two particular items that stood out to me were:
- I had the great privilege of serving on the Reference and Council Committee. This experience gave me a greater appreciation for the process which includes everyone from Bishops, Pastors, Legal representatives, and laypersons to make sure everything is handled in a prayerful and trusted manner.
- I was very encouraged to see our church is actively looking at new and innovative ways to spread the gospel, especially the “Congregation Lead” and “Micro Church” programs. I had follow-up conversations with Rev. James Hendricks, Director for Evangelical Mission, and I am very excited about these possibilities in our Synod.
Reflection: Helen Doerpinghaus
A highlight at the Churchwide Assembly was a theological reflection on the Assembly’s theme “Embody the Word” by Dr. Anthony Bateza, professor at St. Olaf College. He explored the importance of “trust” as we seek to “Embody the Word.” He reminded us that trust requires both competence and commitment. It requires us to be both willing and able. Dr. Bateza also
reminded us that God embodies trust for us. God is most able to help and is always a reliable help for us. In a world where trust is often broken, our trustworthiness to others matters because it reflects God. Dr. Bateza’s presentation inspired a vision of the God we have, One worthy of trust, and the mission we are called to, to embody that word.
The single brightest highlight of the 2022 Chrchwide assembly for me was the meeting of new friends and the formation of relationships with the members of the SC delegation-many of whom I was meeting for the first time. A wonderful group of people!
Reflection: Robert Epting
The single brightest highlight of the 2022 Chrchwide assembly for me was the meeting of new friends and the formation of relationships with the members of the SC delegation-many of whom I was meeting for the first time. A wonderful group of people!
The highlight of the Assembly itself for me was the Wednesday morning worship service with the Native American people who led a large part of the service. The worship service the evening before centering around the Lamentation of Rachel had left my spirit a little down and unsettled. Conversations with my Prayer Partner for the week (and a new ‘person of Peace’ for me) Erin Johnson helped quiet my concerns and the worship service the next morning sealed the deal..
The service started out with a prayer song done by the Imnizaska Dakota Drum Group. The drumming and chanting was a balm for the soul. Next, sage was lit with the people cleansing their bodies with the smoke. The sweet smell of the burning incense set the tone for the rest of the service. A prayer to the four directions came next with the congregation standing and turning to face each direction as a prayer was said thanking God for the life giving water of a major river in that direction: the Susquehanna, Rio Grande, Colorado, and Mississippi. Water and Word! The service continued with many parts, including the Gospel, being spoken in an Indigenous tongue. Statements for repentance and reconciliation were offered for the Church’s active and non active roles in the atrocities done to the Native Americans. There is still work to be done for the total reconciliation but I felt at peace that steps are being taken in that direction.
REPUDIATING THE DOCTRINE OF DISCOVERY: THE REV. EMILY EDENFIELD
CWA 2022 learned about the important work that the ELCA has been doing around our repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery at CWA in 2016. The Doctrine of Discovery comes from a 15th century papal bull gave European colonizers authority from the pope to claim and conquer any new lands that they discovered. That understanding led to violence and racism across the globe. In 2016, Churchwide Assembly appointed a task force to implement the repudiation of the Doctrine and to lift up Indigenous voices in the church and in society
The church, through this task force and other leaders, has taken many steps in partnering with our indigenous siblings. We have a partner between Rocky Boy reservation in Montana, home of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary to create classes around indigenous culture and faith. We have worked against the violence and hardship experience by indigenous women, especially, and to tell the story of boarding schools. We have a resource for land acknowledgement on our website, so that any congregation or organization that chooses to can share a brief statement remembering what native tribes lived in this land before European settlers arrived.
We have connected with the NCAI, National Congress of American Indians, whose president, Dr. Fawn Sharp, spoke at CWA. We have made relationships, learned a lot, and walked together with the descendants of those first walked on this continent, showing and sharing the love of God.
South Carolina congregations can be proud to know that we are part of a church that makes an effort to share the gospel with all people in ways that are respectful and give people dignity. Every generation and every culture needs to hear and know the Word of God. If you’d like to get more involved, https://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Congregations-and-Synods/Ethnic-Specific-and-Multicultural-Ministries/American-Indian-and-Alaska-Native has resources for learning and service.
Advance Salary Equity: The Rev. Lisa Isenhower
On Wednesday, August 10, during the fourth plenary session of the assembly, voting members were asked to consider a memorial to advance pay equity for rostered ministers (pastor and deacons) in the ELCA. This memorial called for a study of pay gaps among our rostered ministers, particularly as they relate to women, people of color, minority ethnic groups, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Currently, women who are rostered ministers in the ELCA make, on average, $8,000 less than their male counterparts. That amount is even larger for BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and persons of color) ministers. The memorial asks the Church Council of the ELCA to consider commissioning a study of the issue. In addition, the memorial asks both the Churchwide organization and Portico Benefits Services (the company that administers benefits for rostered ministers) to make changes to their bylaws and data privacy policies in order to facilitate a deeper understanding of compensation patterns for rostered ministers.
In speaking in favor of the memorial, one voting member noted that basing a minister’s compensation for a new call on compensation in the current call has resulted in some ministers remaining chronically underpaid.
The voting members approved this memorial to advance pay equity across the ELCA by a vote of 774 to 46.
Monday, August 8th
From Living Lutheran
On Monday, Aug. 8, ELCA members came together for a gathering worship service, marking the beginning of the 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The assembly, which is the primary decision-making body of the church, is convening Aug. 8-12 at the Greater Columbus (Ohio) Convention Center.
Readings for the week’s worship services are intended to supplement the assembly theme of “Embody the Word.” For the gathering worship service, the readings consisted of texts usually heard during Advent and reflected being centered in the wilderness while trusting Jesus’ incarnation. Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton preached at the service and later commented on how wonderful it was to gather together to sing and worship.
The 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly officially opened Aug. 9.
Tuesday, August 9th
From Living Lutheran
The 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly officially opened Aug. 9 at the Greater Columbus (Ohio) Convention Center, meeting through Aug. 12. Day one consisted of plenary sessions one and two, an apology to Iglesia Luterana Santa María Peregrina, Stockton, Calif., and a service of word and prayer.
During plenary one, the 804 voting members present cast a first ballot for ELCA vice president. There were 682 legal ballots cast; 512 were needed for election. There was no election.
Plenary one also included a video recognizing the 35th anniversary of the ELCA. In April 1987, the ELCA constitution was adopted in Columbus. The plenary included recognition of past officers, including Herbert Chilstrom (1931-2020), the first presiding bishop of the ELCA. A video memorializing William “Bill” Horne II, who was serving as ELCA vice president when he died last year, was also shown.
Voting members approved (705-9) en bloc to archive nine social policy resolutions in accordance with the “Policies and Procedures of the ELCA for Addressing Social Concerns,” which directs a review of social policy resolutions that are older than 25 years.
In other business, several memorials were considered in the second plenary session. The assembly adopted (726-44) en bloc 19 memorials that covered topics such as gun violence, parental and family medical leave, and communion practices. Twelve memorials were pulled from en bloc for separate consideration. Those considered and acted upon Tuesday include
- Memorial B4 — Restructure the Governance of the ELCA: Calls on (738-72) the ELCA Church Council to establish a Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church to consider statements of purpose for the church and its organizational structure and to present its findings and recommendations to the 2025 Churchwide Assembly in preparation for a possible reconstituting convention.
- Memorial C3 – Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust Revision: Authorizes (741-59) a reconsideration to revise the social statement “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust (2009)” so its wording reflects current church understanding, church policy, civil law and acceptance of marriage of same-gender and gender non-conforming couples. The action includes identifying the cost of revision and the revenue source for such work, which could be considered as early as the 2025 Churchwide Assembly.
- Memorial A5 – Fortifying Urban Ministries: Calls for (762-31) the creation of an Urban Ministry group to accompany ELCA synods in their urban strategies to enhance congregational vitality and ministry sustainability in urban contexts and to share reports on ways for the church to fortify the witness and service among people in underserved urban areas.
- Memorial A7 – Black Migrant Strategy: Directs (783-16) the development of a proposal to strengthen advocacy, protection and accompaniment of Black migrants, particularly through AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities) and in partnership with U.S. and global ecumenical and interreligious partners.
- Memorial B9 – Mission Development Process: Calls for (758-38) greater equity and clarity on the mission development process, including studying and refining current ELCA guidelines related to appointments, calls, funds and support mechanisms for mission developers and new ministries.
The assembly also received reports from Lori Fedyk, ELCA treasurer, and Louise Johnson, ELCA executive for administration, as well as the presentation of the 2023-2025 budget proposal. The treasurer’s report included brief presentations from Daniel Kirschbaum, ELCA program director for young adult ministries, and Rahel Williams, ELCA mission funding director, that highlighted some of the work and programs made possible through financial support to the church.
Before the second plenary session closed, the assembly received greetings via video from Ibrahim Azar, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.
Following plenary two, a nonlegislative session was held in which Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton issued an apology on behalf of the ELCA to Iglesia Luterana Santa María Peregrina following the abrupt removal of their pastor on the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe last year, along with a public commitment to be an anti-racist church.
A service of word and prayer that emphasized the importance of valuing and listening to marginalized members of the church was held following the plenary sessions and apology.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FOR AUGUST 9TH
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Wednesday, August 10th
From Living Lutheran
The 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly continued Aug. 10 at the Greater Columbus (Ohio) Convention Center. Day two included the third and fourth plenary sessions and a service of Holy Communion.
The assembly was invited by the American Indian and Alaska Native Lutheran Association to wear red to bring awareness to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The assembly also received a presentation on the “Declaration of the ELCA to American Indian and Alaska Native People” adopted by the ELCA Church Council last September.
Prior to the presentation, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton recognized the life and witness of Marlene Whiterabbit Helgemo, who died July 22. Helgemo was the first Native American woman ordained in the Lutheran church and had served on the ELCA’s Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery task force.
The declaration was presented as part of the implementation of the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly’s resolution to repudiate explicitly and clearly the European-derived doctrine of discovery. Task force members gave examples to the assembly of what the ELCA has been doing to live out the declaration, closed with remarks by Vance Blackfox, who began last year in his newly created position as ELCA director for Indigenous ministries and tribal relations.
Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians, addressed the assembly “on behalf of 574 sovereign Tribal nations.”
A service of Holy Communion centered Native voices as the assembly marked the Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery.
In a continuation of the ELCA vice president election, voting members cast a second ballot in the third plenary: 801 votes were cast; 601 were needed for election. There was no election. In the fourth plenary, voting members heard four-minute speeches from the seven nominees with the most votes after the second ballot. There were 822 votes cast for the third ballot for vice president; 548 were needed for an election. There was no election. The fourth ballot for vice president is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
The ELCA’s presiding bishop, interim vice president and secretary also presented their reports to the assembly.
Carlos Peña, interim vice president, shared the actions brought forward to the assembly by the Church Council, including a proposed bylaw amendment to allow for the inclusion of advisory members to the council.
Members of the Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery task force gave examples to the assembly of what the ELCA has been doing to live out the declaration.
In her report, Eaton addressed the ways in which the church has changed and adapted during the years of the COVID-19 pandemic and shared that the ELCA has distributed more than $1.5 million to its synods through COVID-19 response grants. She also emphasized the ways in which the ELCA has sought to become a more innovative and authentically diverse church.
As part of Eaton’s report, several churchwide organization staff members shared stories about their work, including Kimberly Jackson, ELCA director of leadership development and one of the co-conveners of the Collaborative; Rebecca Payne, ELCA program manager for the Congregations Lead Initiative; and Nicolette Marie Peñaranda, ELCA program director for African Descent Ministries.
Sue Rothmeyer, ELCA secretary, talked about how the ELCA’s governing documents are shaped by words but most importantly, the Word. She also gave a brief overview of the steps necessary to amend the ELCA constitution and shared data related to trends in participation, baptisms, confirmations and other activities related to congregational life.
The assembly heard a theological reflection on the assembly theme “Embody the Word” from Anthony Bateza, associate professor of religion and the chair of the Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality Studies department at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn.
The assembly welcomed the presidents of the ELCA colleges and universities who are in Columbus meeting as the board of directors of the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities. They assembly also participated in the college corporation meetings of Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, and Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa, which have governance relationships with the ELCA where the Churchwide Assembly serves as voting members of the corporations.
In other business, the assembly continued discussion and action on memorials that were removed from en bloc for separate consideration. Wednesday’s action included:
- Memorial A6 – Advance Salary Equity: Calls on (774-46) the Church Council to consider commissioning a study of pay gaps among ELCA rostered ministers and to share the findings throughout the church. The adopted memorial also encourages Portico Benefit Services and the churchwide organization to revise bylaws and privacy policies to facilitate deeper understanding of compensation patterns among rostered ministers and calls for an update to compensation-related questions in the Rostered Minister Profile.
The assembly also received greetings from Sonia Skupch, the regional secretary for Latin America, Caribbean and North America of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Anne Burghart, LWF general secretary, and Panti Filibus Musa, LWF president and archbishop of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, extended greetings to the assembly via videos. The ELCA is one of the 149 member churches of LWF.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FOR AUGUST 10TH
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Thursday, August 11th
From Living Lutheran
On day three of the 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the assembly elected Imran Siddiqui, a member of St. John Lutheran Church in Atlanta, as vice president—the highest position a layperson can hold in the ELCA.
Siddiqui was elected on the fifth ballot, with 550 votes to 264 votes for Roberto Lara Aranda, a member of St. Peter Lutheran Church, New York City, and assistant to the bishop for communications and development in the Metropolitan New York Synod.
“The top three people for this position were people of color, and that’s fantastic,” Siddiqui said after his election. “That doesn’t mean we have solved racism yet. We have a lot of work to do, church. … I believe we can do it.”
Siddiqui grew up Muslim and became a Lutheran in 2011. He is currently the vice president of the Southeastern Synod, and his six-year term as ELCA vice president will commence on Nov. 1, 2022.
On this day, the assembly was invited to wear black as part of the “Thursdays in Black” campaign toward a world without rape or violence led by the World Council of Churches.
The day opened with a morning prayer service that included a sermon on “embodying the questions” from Benjamin Stewart, ELCA pastor and Gordon A. Braatz Associate Professor of Worship and director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
The results of the first common ballot were reported and all candidates on the 95 tickets who received a majority were declared elected to the Church Council and boards.
In other business, the assembly adopted (751-19) the 2023-2025 budget and continued action on memorials removed for separate consideration. Memorials acted on today include:
- Memorial A8 – Land Back: Calls for (737-65) ELCA ministries and partners to engage in deeper collaboration with Indigenous partners, including incorporating land acknowledgments as part of public gatherings, exploring the creation of restorative justice programs, and studying funding needs and sources for ELCA Indigenous congregations and service ministries.
- Memorial B8 – Separation Agreements: Affirms (721-79) a churchwide organization commitment to limit the use of nondisclosure provisions and to urge other expressions and partners of the ELCA to also limit the use of nondisclosure agreements, including as a matter of course or in termination of calls of rostered ministers.
- Memorial A14 – Roe v. Wade: Encouraged (776-27) support and prayer for people affected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade, including rostered ministers and lay staff at congregations and social ministry organizations. It also called for conversation on the church’s teaching on abortion and related topics, as well as synodical reviews of the impacts that overturning Roe v. Wade and other related local rulings may have on pastoral counseling and the pastor-client relationship.
The assembly also received a report from the Conference of Bishops by Tracie Bartholomew, chair of the Conference of Bishops and bishop of the New Jersey Synod.
Voting members discussed and acted on proposed amendments to the Constitutions, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions of the ELCA. They also considered resolutions and approved (708-93) a motion that authorizes a possible revision of the social statement “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” that will reconsider the church’s current concept of the four positions of bound conscience.
The assembly also recognized the ecumenical and interreligious commitments of the church, including “A Declaration of Ecumenical Commitment” (adopted 1991), “A Declaration of the ELCA to the Jewish Community” (adopted 1994), “A Declaration of Interreligious Commitment” (adopted 2019) and “A Declaration of the ELCA to the Muslim Community” (adopted 2022).
Many guests representing the ELCA’s full communion partnerships, shared dialogues, and partner coalitions and councils presented greetings to the assembly. Those who presented greetings in person included:
- Denis J. Madden, titular bishop of Baia and auxiliary bishop of Baltimore
- Eddy Aleman, general secretary of the Reformed Church in America
- Herbert Nelson, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
- Mark Pettis, ecumenical and interfaith relationships manager for the United Church of Christ
- Vashti McKenzie, interim general secretary and president of the National Council of Churches and bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
- Esther Lederman, director of congregational innovation for the Union for Reform Judaism
- Saffet Catovic, head of the Islamic Society of North America’s Office for Interfaith Alliances, Community Alliances and Government Relations
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FOR AUGUST 11TH
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Friday, August 12th
From Living Lutheran
The 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly concluded Aug. 12 at the Greater Columbus (Ohio) Convention Center. Day four included a service of Holy Communion and the seventh plenary session.
Imran Siddiqui was installed as ELCA vice president during the closing worship service, which included a prayer led by Secretary Sue Rothmeyer with intercessory response from the voting members and church leaders.
Patricia Davenport, bishop of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, offered the sermon. “Our call is God’s call for us to live in faith and hope and peace in the world, that people might see Jesus in all that they do and all that we do,” she said.
During plenary, the assembly acted on the remaining memorials removed for separate consideration:
- Memorial B11 – Specialized Ministries and On Leave from Call Status: Directs (642-76) the Church Council to establish a process for examining policies, procedures and constitutional provisions related to specialized ministry calls and on-leave from call status, as well as protocols for removal from rosters and communication on such actions. The memorial also urges bishops and synod councils to use sparingly any action that removes a minister from the roster for nondisciplinary reasons until this review process is complete.
- Memorial A4 – Greenhouse Gas Reduction: Reaffirms (672-45) the church’s commitment to engage in creation care and to act in support of 50% reduction in 2005 U.S. levels of greenhouse gas pollution by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, including having the churchwide organization meet these goals. The memorial also urges continued work with the Creation Care Network, encourages congregants and rostered ministers to witness to the climate emergency and affirms the Mission Investment Fund’s “Green Building” initiative.
- Memorial B5 – Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility (DEIA) ELCA Governance Audit: Authorizes (538-175) the Church Council to determine parameters, expenses and revenue sources to provide for an external audit of the “Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the ELCA” that examines diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the church’s governing documents. The memorial calls on the Church Council to report the findings of the audit and directs the legal committee to recommend changes.
The assembly also acted on the remaining resolutions from the Reference and Counsel Committee, honored outgoing synod bishops and recognized Church Council members completing their service.
The 2025 Churchwide Assembly will be held in Phoenix.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FOR full assembly including AUGUST 11TH
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