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The sixteenth Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA met August 8-12, 2022, worshiping together in services of Eucharist and lament, experiencing a liturgy rooted in Indigenous traditions, and hearing a public apology in a non-legislative session to Iglesia Luterana Santa María Peregrina for harm experienced from actions taken by the Sierra Pacific Synod and this church. The following key actions were taken by the assembly:
Elected Mr. Imran Siddiqui of the Southeastern Synod as vice president of the ELCA.
Directed the Church Council to establish a Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church to reconsider the statements of purpose for each expression of this church, the principles of organizational structure, and our shared commitment to dismantle racism, with findings to be reported to the 2025 Churchwide Assembly in preparation for a possible reconstituting convention; and directed an external audit of the governing documents of this church to consider diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, with findings resulting in recommended changes to the governing documents.
Authorized revisions to the social statement, Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, and approved exploration of reconsideration of the four stated positions of “bound conscience.”
Encouraged members, congregations, and synods of this church to educate themselves about Indigenous peoples, calling on the churchwide organization to work with synods and Indigenous partners to identify sources of funding for ministries for Indigenous peoples, and encouraging restorative justice that could include return of land to the appropriate Native nations.
Referred a proposed study of pay gaps for rostered ministers to the Church Council.
Mandated a review process of the roster manual and policies related to specialized ministries, On Leave from Call status, and protocols for removal from the rosters, and encouraged bishops and synod councils to use sparingly the process of removal from the roster for non-disciplinary reasons.
Approved the budget proposal for the triennium, including a spending authorization of $68,814,000 for 2023 for the current fund, along with a spending authorization of $22,930,000 for ELCA World Hunger.
Affirmed limits on the use of non-disclosure agreements by the churchwide organization and urged synods, congregations, and other ministries to apply the same limits.
Reaffirmed the commitment of this church to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, directing the churchwide organization to set a goal of reducing net greenhouse gas pollution 50% by 2030, with a long-range goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
Called for a review of the nomination and elections processes used by synods and the churchwide organization.
Responded to memorials, including among others those on diversity; nuclear weapons; voting rights and Washington, D.C., statehood; strategies for fortifying urban ministries; a Black migrant strategy; the right to boycott; gun violence; LGBTQIA+ welcome; substance abuse; Roe v. Wade; remembrance of Armenian, Assyrian and Greek genocide; parental and medical family leave; a process for pre-identification of nominees for the office of presiding bishop; revisions to the mission development process; consideration of communion practices related to remote worship; affirmation of the task force created by the Church Council to review the discipline process; and a social message on child abuse and protection.
Approved or ratified amendments to the Constitutions, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the ELCA, most of which were related to general clarifications and updates; inclusive language; synod-authorized ministry; designation of advisory members by the Church Council; boards of the separately incorporated ministries; and election procedures for officers and the Churchwide Assembly.
Elected members of the Church Council, Committee on Appeals, Committee on Discipline, Nominating Committee, and boards of the Separately Incorporated Ministries [see “First Common Ballot Results”].
We invited our voting members to reflect on the 2022 Churchwide Assembly. Here are a few of their responses:
2022 Churchwide Assembly Reflections
“Good morning, Church!” That was the greeting that began every morning as over 1,000 of our siblings in Christ gathered at the Churchwide Assembly. In accordance with a change made at the last Assembly in 2019, members of the Churchwide Council, of which I am a part, were voting members of the Assembly.
One of the most important things we did at Assembly was to elect a new vice president, the highest position among lay leaders in our church. You may or may not know that our previous vice president, Mr. Bill Horne, died unexpectedly last August. After five ballots, the Assembly elected Mr. Imran Siddiqui, who is the soon-to-be former synodical vice president from the Southeastern Synod in Atlanta. I was very pleased with the outcome. The diversity of the candidates, especially the final three, was impressive.
In addition, we also elected a number of new Churchwide Council members, who each serve a single 6-year term, with about half of the terms ending with the Churchwide Assembly every three years. Plus, there were elections for various committees and boards affiliated with the church or its related bodies, such as colleges and seminaries and other groups.
The biggest movement happening in the church now is our Future Church initiative. A goal is to bring in a million new, young, and diverse members by 2030. Presiding Bishop Eaton stated that the 7 last words of the church are “That’s the way we’ve always done it;” innovation and experimentation to meet people where they are is instead emphasized as a way of striving toward our goal.
A necessary part of becoming more diverse is dealing with our history of institutional and systemic racism, in which we have participated as has much of our American society. Time and attention were given at the Assembly to acknowledge and address these wrongs and to seek new and better ways of including people of various backgrounds. These included land acknowledgment for Native Americans (who, after all, were here before most of our ancestors), and a heartfelt apology to a congregation of Lutherans of Hispanic background who have recently been the victims of a series of unfortunate events on the west coast. Healing is beginning in that situation.
I loved the fact that we made it all the way through our agenda, and addressed every issue, election, and memorial. (Because anything left undone would fall to the Council in the fall.) Further, I was pleased at how the situation with the Sierra Pacific Synod was handled, and relieved that there was not a lot of animosity, protest, or disruption.
The worship services, both music and preaching, were wonderful. There were daily services in a variety of styles and settings, with lots of wonderful music from the ELW and the latest supplement, “All Creation Sings.” Although a lot of the songs were unfamiliar to me, it was obvious that many in attendance knew them well, and we certainly made a joyful noise!
- Susan Boxberger
This was my first time attending the ELCA Churchwide Assembly. I attended as a voting member from our synod’s Western Kansas Conference. Before arriving in Columbus, Ohio, many opportunities to learn about the “hot” topics on the agenda, resolutions being presented, and how to navigate the Guidebook, software, and especially the electronic voting machines we would use. This training was provided and supported by both Churchwide staff and our CSS staff. Bible studies were offered that afforded insight and provoked reflection into scripture passages relative to the themes and topics within the Assembly. These pre-Assembly opportunities provided me with a strong sense of being prepared for the Assembly, and my responsibility as a voting member.
However, upon arrival I was rather overwhelmed and found my eyes opened to the scope of the event. It was awesome! To see and experience the power of the Holy Spirit moving in and through us as we worshiped and participated in the business of the church was moving and humbling. What a beautifully diverse body of Christ we are. I learned so much through my experience and was blessed to enter into new friendships with my siblings in Christ from all parts of the country and our synod.
I had the privilege to participate in the Assembly Choir. We sang at the closing worship service. It was yet again another awesome experience!
If you are ever given the opportunity to be a voting member to the Churchwide Assembly and you feel the Holy Spirit calling, I would encourage you to answer, “Here I am Lord, send me!”
- David Frederking
It is 4pm on August 8, 2022. I am sitting Meeting Room A at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Not for the first time, I am wondering, why am I here? I had limited involvement or interest in the church beyond my own congregation. A short answer could be that the Central States Synod needed a lay woman of color for its cohort of voting members. But that was the Synod’s agenda, and not really an answer to why I was there. Over the next four days, I hoped to find out.
At my age it is always tempting to think that you’ve seen it all. However, the assembly exposed me to a lot that was new.
Who knew ELCA was not a hierarchy with a pecking order and chain of command? I learned that “Within the ELCA, there are three primary expressions of this church: congregations, synods, and the churchwide organization. Each one is fully the church, but none is the whole church. They exist and serve within this one church.” However, there were clearly clouds of dissatisfaction around the three expressions and how they work or don’t work. One of the important outcomes of the assembly was the call to establish a commission to examine the current ELCA structure.
Who knew “Memorials” had nothing to do with those who have passed away? I learned that Memorials are proposals for action involving broad policy issues submitted by synod assemblies for consideration by the churchwide body. I am grateful to all the people in each of the church’s expressions whose work and commitment help make this church its best self.
Who knew there was something called an ecclesiastical ballot?
Who knew that it was possible to have a decision-making conclave with nearly 1,000 people without paper? iPads were the order of the day. It was a little weird at first, but worth the savings to the budget (I hope) and the planet.
Enough of my ignorance, on to the highlights:
Colleagues -I was part of a group of 13 fellow voters from Central States Synod. I didn’t know any of them prior to the meeting; but I found myself looking forward to being with them every single day of the assembly. Thank you all for your wisdom, collegiality, and warmth.
Worship – Each day of the Assembly included an opportunity for worship. I took a particular interest in these services because my congregation has been involved in ongoing conversations about what worship should look like. To my surprise, I found it difficult to classify the services as traditional or contemporary. What I can say is that for me, each of those services reflected the “bodily presence of the Christian community.” The Native American-inspired communion service was a mountain-top experience.
Diversity - Imran Siddiqui, born a Muslim, was elected vice-president. He is not the first person of color to hold that position. In addressing the Assembly after his election, he noted that although all three finalists for the position were people of color, it didn’t mean that the church had solved racism. But what exactly did it mean? I read somewhere recently, that the ELCA is the “whitest” of the mainline denominations. The diversity on display at the assembly bore little resemblance to the vast majority of Lutheran congregations. Is it the intention of the ELCA that diversity reside within the churchwide expression?
Ecumenism - I was uplifted by the presence of the ecumenical partners at the end of Thursday’s last plenary session. The church universal does exist. I found the exhortation from Vashti McKenzie of the National Council of Churches especially meaningful. “We must have the courage to see,” she said, “it is not safer in the dark.”
I began these reflections with the question why was there? I left the assembly with an answer. It started with the declaration from Vance Blackfox that his call to the church was helping white people heal. I am not yet a good enough Christian that I don’t bristle at the idea that as a person of color, I am somehow responsible for making white people whole. However, the word “heal” stuck with me. One of my favorite authors, Rachel Held Evans, makes a distinction between curing and healing. Curing means to simply remove disease. Healing, she said, is the restoration of wholeness. The more I thought about it, it occurred to me that healing is a two-way street. In the act of healing and making others whole, we heal ourselves. This insight is of immense value to me. My presence at the assembly made it possible. Thank you, Brother Blackfox.
- Tullia Brown Hamilton
What inspired me: Each worship experience was deeply meaningful in its own way. The soprano who sang "Give Me Jesus" brought tears to my eyes. I will never forget the American Indian Lutheran service. - In the past year I've read Kimmerer's nonfiction book Braiding Sweetgrass and Joy Harjo's How We Became Human book of poems, which primed me to soak up an American Indian way of Christian spirituality.
What I learned: First, the breadth and depth and future direction of ELCA. One of the newer members of my home congregation wanted to know if ELCA is truly open to minorities; I just gave him my printed stack of Memorials. He studied them a while that Wednesday evening and returned them with his questions satisfied. Second, we in the Central States are lucky to have Susan Candea as our bishop. One minute she is looking after our needs [who isn't here yet] and the next she is one of the 12 of us from our synod. - The Thursday night pizza party that led to relaxed conversations for over 2 hours was another memorable "event."
The highlight: The Friday worship service. When I saw our new VP arrive for his installation in jeans and no tie, I laughed with delight. Maybe he is truly the one to resonate with a younger generation. Bishop Patricia Davenport's sermon brought me and a lot of other Lutherans to our feet! Halleluia!
- Becky Kiel
I believe that the ELCA is making strong movements to live what it professes:
In electing a new vice president (the top lay leader in the ELCA), our final three candidates were people of color. They were all great candidates.
Each vote--and there were five--was preceded by singing and praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Thanks be to God!! I also loved the diversity of worship services.
- JoLana Pinon
The highlights of my trip were the opportunities to meet and build relationships with others, whether from the Central States Synod, other voting members from across the country, event center staff, or individuals from the ComicCon event that overlapped our last day in Columbus. Sharing joys, callings, pains, and thanks with all of these groups, and sharing worship with the Assembly were all times that touched my heart.
Our Native American ELCA siblings who spoke from the stage were very engaging and moving. I recall the driving in my gut and racing of my heart as I was moved to go to a microphone and speak to a decision that was before the assembly. I recall the disappointment that the words shared through me did not sway the overall vote. The hopes, frustrations, caring and friendly acts among those with whom I was able to interact helped remind me that we are both saints and sinners. We are ALL God's creation. There were over 1000 unique individuals, each created in the image of God in those rooms for many hours of the week. We need to remember that we are all community, and to not dismiss each other over differences. We should care for each other in challenging times and work together for God's purpose.
- David Stock
Attending the ELCA Churchwide Assembly was a phenomenal experience for me. I have attended many Synod Assemblies over the years, but I had not experienced the work of the church on a national level. I came away from the Assembly with a much deeper appreciation for the work of the Churchwide staff, volunteers, and our Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. So much information passes through the hands of voting members during the Assembly because so many decisions need to be made. Yet, the Presiding Bishop and the elected Churchwide officers guided us gently through the process and helped us to make informed decisions as voting members. When in doubt, I could always consult our fabulous Synod Bishop, Rev. Susan Candea, for proper guidance in case I missed something. A highlight for me was the election of Mr. Imran Siddiqui as the Vice President of the ELCA (the highest lay position in our denomination). Mr. Siddiqui, from Atlanta, has a fascinating story of growing up in a Muslim family, shunning all religion in his tenties, and then becoming a Lutheran Christian as an adult. I am excited for the leadership he will provide during his six-year term. Thank you to the Central States Synod for giving me this opportunity to serve as a voting member and see our beloved Church at work!
- Zac Sturm
In a powerful sermon during the closing worship of the 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, Bishop Patricia Davenport invoked our baptismal covenant and calling. She reminded us that embodying the Word begins with our baptism and our response to the covenant God has made. In our affirmation of baptism liturgy we ask:
“Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in holy baptism:
to live among God’s faithful people,
To hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper,
To proclaim the good news of God in Christ Jesus through word and deed,
To serve all people (and the world God made) following the example of Jesus,
And to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.“
This is our work as the body of Christ, and not just the work of rostered leaders and church staff, but of all of us!
These commitments well represent for me what it was like to be a voting member at this assembly. Between voting members, churchwide council and staff, visitors, guests, and volunteers, well over 1,000 of us came together to do the work of the church. The worship services in particular were relevant, timely, and moving. It was an honor and privilege that I was able to assist with communion on Wednesday morning, where I got to communion our own Bp. Candea, Bp. Maas ,who serves my home state of Nebraska, and Bp. Humphrey, who serves Virginia and the location of my internship site. Totally unplanned, and truly special.
We also proclaimed the good news through commitment to action. Together, we deliberated and voted on a number of pressing memorials and resolutions. All of them are important, but I am especially proud of the passage of Memorial A4 – Greenhouse Gas Reduction. Our synod and 16 others memorialized churchwide to commit to the goals that ELCA Advocacy has already been promoting: to act in support of 50% reduction in 2005 U.S. levels of greenhouse gas pollution by 2030 and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
This assembly included some difficult conversations and some honest confession of the sins of racism and colonialism. And we still have work to do to divest ourselves from the grips of white supremacy. But amid the challenge and uncertainty of the future, I remain hopeful. New and young people are showing up. Communities of color are holding us to our commitments to a better way forward. The embodied and enfleshed God is with us, putting to death those things that must die and raising us, the church, to new and abundant life for the sake of the world. Thanks Be!
- Melissa Woeppel
Received the results of the ELCA’s first major fund-raising campaign. The 2013 Churchwide Assembly approved the $198 million campaign to help sustain and grow the ministries of the church. This assembly heard that in fact $250 million has been raised in cash, multi-year commitments, and planned gift commitments.
Re-elected Presiding Bishop Eaton on the first ballot with over 81 percent of the vote.
Adopted the social statement “Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Lutheran Call to Action.”
Approved “A Declaration of Inter-religious Commitment,” which underscores the ELCA’s long-standing commitment to inter-religious relations.
Approved memorials on a variety of topics including gun violence, engagement in the Holy Land, and income inequality.
Presented a Declaration to People of African Descent to representatives of the African Descent Lutheran Association. The declaration is an expression of confession of this church’s bondage to the sins of slavery, racism, discrimination, white supremacy and quietism. “This apology is a recommitment to the process of right and equitable relations within this church, and the flourishing of Christ’s church universal,” Bishop Eaton said after the declaration was read.
Received the proposal for the triennium budget.
Elected Deacon Sue Rothmeyer as secretary of the ELCA.
Voted to commemorate June 17 as a day of repentance in the ELCA for the deaths of the Emanuel 9, the nine people who were killed June 17, 2015, during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, S.C.
Adopted a resolution condemning white supremacy.
Expanded information on the above highlights, and much more, can be found here:
Legislative Updates of the 2019 Churchwide Assembly
Living Lutheran News and Daily Summaries
We invited our voting members to reflect on the 2019 Churchwide Assembly. Here are a few of their responses:
Facing your Privilege and Prejudices
During the Churchwide Assembly the ELCA has taken major steps toward racial reconciliation and racism. We issued an apology to people of African descent for our complicity in slavery and ongoing racism. We also protested ICE and the separation of families at the border. While we’ve taken these steps, we all must personally look into and actively engage with our own privilege and prejudices. We cannot simply write these words symbolically, we must act.
Everyone has certain degrees of privilege at any given moment in any context. Your level of privilege is dependent on many things like economic status, ethnicity, gender, religion, level of education, and physical and mental ability, just to name a few. It’s important to become aware of your privilege so that you can use it to help instead of harm.
For example, we can use our white privilege to help people of color be listened to and help them to receive the same benefits we do. We can help dismantle the systems set in place before us that are heavily influenced by white supremacist ideology. Whether we know it or not, white people have benefitted from white supremacy within our institutions.
It is our duty to evaluate and hold ourselves accountable and educate ourselves about the history of our land, government, and church. While it is easy to say we were not aware of what was happening or that we weren’t actively participating in these oppressive systems, we must apologize and commit ourselves to being better. We must lift up the marginalized and oppressed, making a point to listen and educate ourselves on their point of view and history. We must be careful to not talk over them or discredit their accounts, but rather empower them and give them platforms to tell their stories. We must learn to deal with our discomfort with what we’ve done and what others before us have done so that others after us do not continue our oppressive systems and reconciliation is possible.
- Megan Mong
For me, the highlight of these events is always the worship. And I wasn't disappointed-our worship was joyful and varied, with a different theme each day, highlighting different cultures and styles of worship. One day we began with a Native American chant, another with a Gospel choir, and another with mariachi music. It was all glorious and beautiful-to worship the Lord with a thousand of my brothers and sisters. But I must say that the highlight of the week was the moment when we all sang the Sanctus, "Holy, Holy, Holy" from Setting 4, ELW (Setting 2, LBW and Setting 1 in the Service Book and Hymnal)-one thousand voices, from all over the country and beyond, joined in singing that beautiful song of praise from my childhood-it brought tears to my eyes, and reminded me that our church and the faith we stand for is alive and well.
- Jon Anderson
God was definitely busy throughout the Churchwide Assembly! I found the whole experience to be extremely moving and inspirational. I feel most blessed to be part of a church which willingly moves forth out of our comfort zones to stand up for the sake of the gospel to meet the needs of the whole people of God. This was evidenced by the passage of the social statement “Faith, Sexism and Justice” and the memorial to become a sanctuary church. Also, the Litany of Confession to the Jewish Community is another testament of “doing theology not just hearing it”.
The highlight was being present to witness Bishop Eaton being reelected on essentially the first ballot! Bishop Eaton by her very personable nature and witness of the faith promotes the ministry of women in the church on a daily basis.
My significant memory was the Declaration/Apology to the People of African Descent. Hopefully, this will pave the way for all peoples in the ELCA and beyond to realize that often our silence makes us complicit in failing to show love to all our brothers and sisters.
By attending this assembly, I learned much about the various ministries of the ELCA both here and abroad. Although I have attended synod assemblies and women’s Triennials, this Churchwide helped to broaden my knowledge to more deeply understand the ministries and complex workings of the church. Love for your neighbor and the biblical passage “as you have done it to the least of these my brothers you have done it unto me” were the driving force of the assembly and should be witnessed in all we say and do throughout our synods and congregations and beyond!
- Janice Gerken
One of the highlights for me was being a part of something larger than myself. To know that my voice mattered in such a large gathering of the church body, but that we could be in one spirit on a diversity of topics. Another highlight was being able to worship each day and take in the various ways the Spirit moved through song, prayer, preaching, and sacrament.
The memory that moves me the most was listening to the speaker about gun violence and to the trauma and grief it brings to a community. Listening to the speaker, Desta Ronning Goehner, give her testimony and story was powerful. The song and candles following reminded me that even a small light brings hope and the strength to continue healing, and to move to action in walking with and alongside our siblings in Christ and neighbors.
The most significant learning was that no matter what we face as a church and among each other, we are church together. What holds us together is neither our strengths or differences but Christ. What happens in Jesus’ death and resurrection is an event that is ongoing through our lives that allows us to love each other as Jesus does, to respond to the call of the Spirit, and to see the world through God’s eyes.
What inspired me was the fact that such a diversity of people with their gifts and their love for God and the world God made were willing to work so hard to make hope, life, joy, peace, justice, and love a reality in their communities. In doing so, I was reminded that all our communities are outposts of God’s kingdom and places where Christ is found and the love of Christ extended. We are church together through Christ.
- Laura Smith
Upon returning home from my first Churchwide Assembly, our pastor’s sermon included some discussion about the current Daredevil Exhibit at the Harley Davidson Museum, likening this a bit to how we may or may not respond in certain life situations that we encounter as Christians. How fortuitous was his sermon! This week in Milwaukee, we were daredevils! We became the first church body to declare ourselves a Sanctuary Church! We passed a social statement on Faith, Sexism and Justice: A Call to Action! We passed a Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment! We were daredevils together this past week! Together, with the Holy Spirit, we paved the way in some pretty exciting, scary and new ways. I am inspired to take this back to my home congregation. To open the eyes of the members of my congregation and community, to all the amazing opportunities the ELCA has to offer the world. We really are church and church together! I hope that those of us that attended this assembly can go back home and make the connections needed to make even a bigger impact with the resources we have as a church. Thank you so much for this opportunity to be a part of an amazing week!
- Julie Barstow
The Churchwide Assembly was a wonderful opportunity to more fully see the work of the church in action. I fully enjoyed the opportunity to attend and represent the Central States Synod. One of the highlights for me was being able to join in the procession celebrating the 50th anniversary of women’s ordination. I processed with over 500 other female clergy and was moved to tears by this experience and to know that I was surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses of women who came before.
Thank you to the Central States Synod for giving me this opportunity to attend and get to know other Lutherans from across the country.
- Elizabeth Cummings
CWA2019 was my first and I am full of AWE. Of significance to me was the process of such a large assembly (an egalitarian representation of 927+ voting members) being able to accomplish so much very significant Church business. (Electronic voting machines tallied our names and vote and posted the results on the big screens within a minute!) The business accomplished at this Assembly was truly prophetic. I am AWED by the work of the Holy Spirit in our ELCA.
- Patricia Phelan
When I think back on my experience at the CWA the thing that comes to mind is the worship experiences. The daily communion services – especially the opening and closing services – were inspirational and uplifting. The varied music and worship styles were memorable and were highlighted with the festive processionals. The most memorable procession in my mind was the procession of female pastors when we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women.
- Lloyd Pinon
One of the highlights for me was to see the larger church at work. In grace and love, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we made decisions for the church to live out our faith through statements, memorials, and action.
A memory I will take with me was Friday morning's worship, when we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the ordination of woman, the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women of color, and the 10th anniversary of the ordination of the LGBTQIA+ community in open relationships. The procession of women into the worship space was powerful. For nearly 4 minutes women flowed into the worship space. The gifts and call of God was seen in that glorious entrance! It gave me goosebumps it was so moving!
I learned how far we have to go as a church to address the ways we do and have neglected and oppressed woman, people of color, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQIA+ community. We have taken a few steps in the right direction, but have a long road to travel. I learned that my voice matters in that conversation, it is the white hetero male voices that need to address issues and move into a new way of being church, not just the people who are oppressed.
I am inspired to get back to work, to preach the Gospel in new ways that seek to include, invite, and welcome all of God's beloved creation. To point out racism, to advocate for peace, to provide safety for the broken and alone. Inspired to challenge, teach, and dialogue with the community of faith what it means to be the church, living out the decisions we have made at churchwide with grit and grace. I am inspired to bring memorials, resolutions, and statements addressing ways we can more fully live out the Gospel of Jesus to our synod assembly.
- Chris Deines
Freed and Renewed in Christ: 500 Years of God's Grace in Action."
New Orleans, LA
August 8–13, 2016
The assembly – the highest legislative body of the ELCA – is comprised of 980 voting members serving on behalf of the 3.7 million members of the ELCA. The ELCA's 65 synods elect voting members to serve at churchwide assemblies.
Participation in the recent Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was a privilege – inspirational, informative, and encouraging. From outstanding worship to engaging small-group conversation to enlightening Bible studies to hands-on, productive service projects, this assembly was also a call to faithful action by our Presiding Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton.
A number of actions were approved by the 945 voting members in attendance; chief among them are these:
Elected William B. Horne II of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Clearwater, Fla., vice president of the ELCA. Horne was installed during closing worship Aug. 13.
Accepted the "Declaration on the Way," a unique ecumenical document that marks a path toward greater unity between Catholics and Lutherans. At the heart of the document are 32 "Statements of Agreement" that state where Lutherans and Catholics do not have church-dividing differences on topics about church, ministry, and the Eucharist. The document also presents the differences that remain.
Approved AMMPARO, the ELCA's strategy to Accompany Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation, and Opportunities. The ELCA developed this strategy based on commitments to uphold and guarantee the basic human rights and safety of migrant children and their families; to address the root causes of migration in countries from Central America's Northern Triangle and Mexico and the treatment of migrants in transit; to work toward just and humane policies affecting migrants in and outside the United States; to engage as a church with all of its companions, affiliates, and partners to respond to the migration situation and its causes; and to advocate for migrant children and their families.
Approved the Ministry of Word and Service roster. Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, ELCA associates in ministry, deaconesses and diaconal ministers will be included in a single, unified roster of Ministry of Word and Service. The accompanying constitutional amendments related to the roster were also considered and approved by the assembly.
Approved the 2017-2019 budget proposal. The budget includes a 2017 current fund spending authorization of $65,296,005 and a 2017 ELCA World Hunger spending authorization of $24.8 million; a 2018 current fund income proposal of $64,057,220 and a 2018 ELCA World Hunger income proposal of $25 million; a 2019 current fund income proposal of $64,151,175 and a 2019 ELCA World Hunger income proposal of $25 million; and authorizes the Church Council to establish a spending authorization after periodic review of revised income estimates.
Approved various memorials (proposals) from the ELCA's 65 synods. In addition to memorials considered "en bloc," the assembly separately approved the following: deepening relationships with historic Black churches; toward a responsible energy future; repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery; peace with justice in the Holy Land; justice for the Holy Land through responsible investment; African Descent Lutherans; call to discernment on U.S. foreign and military policy; welcoming refugees; and supporting military personnel and their families, and veterans and their families.
Elected members to serve on: Church Council, Portico Benefits Services, Mission Investment Fund, Augsburg Fortress, Committee on Appeals, Committee on Discipline and Nominating Committee.
Adopted amendments to the ELCA Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions.
Voting members from the Central States Synod: Donna Florio, Mindy Tilberg, Brittany Garrelts, Mamy Ranaivoson, Michael Peck, Keith Holste, Eli Truhe, Dennis Allerheiligen, Wayne Sharp, Janis Hutchinson, Amy Truhe, Bob Mitchell, Jodee Reed, Christine Schindler, and Bishop Roger Gustafson.
Check out several videos of the assembly, including Bishop Eaton's report at http://www.elca.org/cwalive.
A complete report of assembly actions is available for download at: Legislative_Updates_for_the_2016_Churchwide_Assembly.pdf .
We invited our voting members to share their experiences at the 2016 Churchwide Assembly. Here are a few of their responses:
The Churchwide Assembly really brought to my attention the varied voices in our Church. It was inviting to hear people's passion about topics I rarely engage and to hear the opposite passions from those who were equally engaged and vocal.
I was struck by the many gifts of our Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton. She is a very aware, connected person who seems to speak several languages and who knows the Roberts Rules of Order! She has a quick wit and a sense of balance that kept things flowing while not running over topics in a dismissive manner.
Worship was a real treat as well. We had several preachers who live the gospel in ways Salina, Kansas does not seem to call one to live the gospel, yet, their proclamation held a message for me (and for everyone, I hope!) that drew me to greater attention to the justice and social issues of our lives. The music was filling and uplifting; with a thousand voices singing praise to God, it was really amazing!
- Amy Truhe, Rostered Voting Member
My experience at the CWA in New Orleans was heart warming and uplifting! We are a diverse Church and an ever changing Church. Yes, we are 500 years old in 2017 but we have baby steps to take. This is an exciting time to be a Lutheran! One item I lift to you: We approved "Declaration on the Way" memorial by an overwhelming vote to commune with our brother and sisters from the Catholic faith. Many other exciting days are ahead of the Lutheran Church. But most importantly we need to keep this in our minds and our hearts: We Will Never Change The World by Going To Church. We Will Only Change The World By Being THE CHURCH!
- Dennis Allerheiligen, VP Synod Council
The enthusiasm that was felt throughout the entire week at the Churchwide Assembly, the excitement felt when praising God through worship, and the love and acceptance of our differences and the willingness of all to work for justice and equality for our neighbors; are all areas of motivation I hope to be able to share with the local congregational members, so that we may strive to do God's work, as God's people.
Seeing the church in action has renewed my spirit in the fact that we are a living church at work in the world and all our difference in context just add to our effectiveness in changing our world for the better. Each local congregation doing God's work in their neighborhoods adds up to positive change for the sake of the entire faith community. We do not have to all do the same exact thing to be church.
- Rev. Donna Florio, Voting Member
I am very proud to be apart of a church taking a stand on problems in the world and moving towards inclusiveness of other church denominations. Churchwide reminds me how awesome our church is and that it is growing in the right direction. I know that in order for our church to continue we need youth, we have them, and they are excited to participate.
With each year I leave excited about the direction our church is heading. I would like my congregation to realize we are apart of something so much bigger than our church and the those that sit in the pews on Sunday morning. We are a church that serve God's children all around the world. I would like for them to feel the pride I do when I hear what our donations are doing. Our church provides clean water for the thirsty, food for the hungry, and the first ones with disaster relief. And because my church is an African-American church I would love for them to know what a big part people of color have in making this all work. I want them to feel included and as proud as I am to be apart of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
- Janis Hutchinson, Voting Member