I don't do loaves. Whole loaves, sliced loaves, the proverbial half-loaf – you know, the one that is supposed to be better than nothing. I don't hold with that kind of thinking. Because in some matters the issues are about people and their lives – and that makes for ramifications that are too pricey, too sensitive for bumper-sticker or even proverbial cuteness. I do bread. Bread is the staff of life. Body of Christ, given for you…
The churchwide assembly, the highest legislative authority in this church, has said today, that there should be an end to punishing people who call, congregations who call other people in the Body of Christ who are in same-gender relationships and likewise an end to punishing people who are in those relationships.
RESOLVED, that in an effort to continue as a church in moral deliberation without further strife and pain to its members, the Churchwide Assembly prays, urges, and encourages synods, synodical bishops, and the presiding bishop to refrain from or demonstrate restraint in disciplining those congregations and persons who call into the rostered ministry otherwise-qualified candidates who are in a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the Churchwide Assembly prays, urges, and encourages synods, synodical bishops, and the presiding bishop to refrain from or demonstrate restraint in disciplining those rostered leaders in a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship who have been called and rostered in this church.
This is a full-measure. This is the church, speaking to the church and saying "We are in an internal dialog on an issue with sharp edges and deep differences. While in this dialog, journeying together faithfully in the midst of our differences, we should not do anything that presumes we know the outcome. We should do no harm to each other."
Also passed today was an amendment added to the memorial sent by 23 synods that called on all to find ways to live together in the midst of disagreements. The amendment directed "the task force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality to specifically address and make recommendations to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly on changes to any policies that preclude practicing homosexual persons from the rosters of this church."
This amendment corrected a major flaw in the reasoning of those seeking to refer all the sexuality memorials to the Task Force preparing the social statement on sexuality: they were not going to look at homosexuality and the policies of the church in any depth because that had been done in preparation for the 2005 churchwide assembly. This amendment now requires the Task Force specifically to do that.
We began the day loading the buses to go to Navy Pier, sped on our way by the Goodsoil singers. Each day since Tuesday they have sung for and with the people waiting in line for the shuttle buses. Sung from the ELW, hymns we all know. It was wonderful to walk down the line, going someplace else, and hear and feel the humming of the waiting Lutherans. The Goodsoil singers did a spectacular and joyful job.
When we convened for the day, we voted in the final ballot for the election of Secretary of the ELCA. Two candidates: David Swartling, the current Parliamentarian; and Paul Schreck, from the Office of the Secretary. Later, the results were announced: David Swartling won handily. David is a very fair and conscientious person, a person all sides of issues can work with in confidence.
Right off the bat after we started on E2 memorials again we started what became the pattern of the day – lots of complicated white card motions.
Holding up a white card allows you to make a motion or enter a parliamentary question or make a point of order.
This one was "this [the local option motion] is just like the one we rejected yesterday." The Bishop said that it wasn't.
Another white card: Move the Previous Question on All Matters before the House. This gem of the ocean sweeps up everything on the floor and runs them one behind each other without further debate. That would be the Amendment pending for the Main Motion, the Substitute Motion and then the Main Motion. Bing, bing, bam…
Everyone who was standing before mics to speak rushes back to their seats to vote. Then someone points out that the person who made the motion was not the next speaker and it was not a privileged motion [stay awake – this is going to get funny].
Parliamentarian agreed. Everyone goes back to the microphones. The first speaker is called on from the against side and he says Move the Previous Question on All Matters before the House. Everybody back to their seats to vote. Was starting to look like the filming of "Bananas" with the Marx Brothers.
The Amendment to the Main Motion passed and was adopted. It's the one you see above that came through the gauntlet. The local option Substitute Motion was defeated. The Main Motion to Refer E2 (the 23 from the synods to eliminate the policy) passed.
E3 memorials (from the synods encouraging refraining from or restraint in disciplining ministers in committed relationships) moved to the floor, with a recommendation to refer to the Task Force.
White card: Call the Question, take 2/3 to win. Fails
Bishop Paul Landahl makes a Substitute Motion that is the memorial sent by the synods: to encourage refraining from and restraint in disciplining those in same-gender relationships.
White card: Call All the Questions Before the House, stops debate. Fails
I just knew that there was going to be another round of White Card motions. Call the Question, Call All the Motions Before the House, Call All the Motions You are Thinking about Making, Call a Cab, Call your Mother, C-a-l-l For Phil-lip Mor-ris (I am told the more senior of you will get this last one)…
Bishop Steve Bouman, Metro New York Synod, spoke in favor of the motion.
In the end, the vote to make the Substitute Motion the Main Motion passed 536 Yes to 467 No.
White Card: [wait for it, wait for it] a hardy chesnut in new wrapping: Motion to Suspend the Rules in Order to Require 2/3 for Passage, requires 2/3 to pass. Failed
Main Motion Refrain/Restraint passes 584 Yes – 431 No.
What does this mean? It means the persecution stops. Prosecution stops. The words "pray, urge, encourage" are as strong as the language can get. The constitution allows bishops discretion in dealing with disciplinary matters. It is that discretion to do nothing that has protected some partnered LGBT clergy till now. On the flip side, the discretion to punish cannot be taken away either. But, the sense of the churchwide assembly, of the church, is powerful; it sets do-not-punish as the baseline. This is good.
I will report once more, tomorrow, going to Eric Christensen's church for Sunday service in the morning.
Oh, if anyone finds a forlorn looking Logitech wireless mouse, minus the USB interface, sitting on a lobby bench or in a meeting room in Navy Pier, with a reproachful, but forgiving look on its face, tell it I am sorry, I tried to find it today, but failed…
Director Communications LC/NA