Thursday at the Churchwide Assembly.
I am going to miss Microphone 11. Where I usually sit in the assembly hall is in the Visitors Section on the right side rear as you face the dais. Directly down the aisle straight in front of me about 60 feet away is Microphone 11 – a “Green” microphone, Agree with or Speaking in Favor of microphone. I hadn’t realized it till someone called to say that they could see me on the streaming video of the assembly activities every time someone was speaking from that microphone. I probably have a combined 60 minutes of air time from the two minute speeches on that mic. Not enough to get an Actor’s Equity card or for a bullet point on a resume, but hey, air time is air time.
Thursday, the “Social Statement on Genetic, Faith and Responsibility” was adopted by the assembly. There was much discussion around the role of science and whether there should be curbs on the directions and degrees of risk of harm that science should accept. The debate was both spirited and respectful.
The delayed Implementing Resolution #10 for LIFT came to the floor. This resolution stated that no further work should be done on social statements in the pipeline until after a review is conducted of the process by which social statements are done, once the social statement on genetics had been dealt with by the assembly. There was considerable debate about the effect of a hiatus on social statements in the pipeline. There is usually a social statement brought to each churchwide assembly. This assembly took up the one on genetics, the 11th in the ELCA since the first one in 1991. Next in order, due to come to the 2013 Churchwide Assembly is on criminal justice. Following that is the social statement on justice for women for 2015. This assembly in the end exempted the Social Statement on Criminal Justice from the moratorium so that it will be presented to the 2013 Churchwide Assembly. The concern expressed was that the process was already engaged and delay would be costly. The review report on social statements and the process of creating them is also due to come before the 2013 assembly.
Concern was also expressed by some of the assembly voting members about delaying the start of the social statement on women. However, the task force for that social statement has yet to be appointed on the normal schedule for social statements. That appointment would not occur until the Fall of 2012, and the assembly was told that that start should not be threatened by the review.
Constitutional change regarding the process by which a congregation disassociates itself with the ELCA was debated and adopted. The change states that if a congregation has fails to achieve the required 2/3 majority at the first special meeting for that purpose, no further votes can be taken until 6 months has elapsed. And further if a congregation fails to get the required 2/3 majority at the second special meeting for the purpose of disassociating from the ELCA, the process cannot begin again with a new “first-meeting” until 6 months has elapsed. This change was adopted after some debate, and is effective immediately, as are all the decisions of assembly unless otherwise stated or provided for by the constitution.
The results of the first common ballot were presented, with elections having taken place in each of the positions sought by the balloting. No second ballot was required. The results can be found on the ELCA website at http://tinyurl.com/results-of-elections. Once on the page scroll down to the Report of the Elections Committee to find the link to the results document.
A memorial supporting comprehensive Immigration Reform and the enactment of the DREAM Act (which would provide a path for citizenship for undocumented high school graduates) was passed by the assembly. The memorial passed affirmed the commitment of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service to support comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act. The memorial requested that the presiding bishop of this church communicate to the president and members of Congress the support of the ELCA for comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act. And the memorial encouraged all ELCA synods, congregations, and members to add their voices in support of comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act. Oh, and by the way, the correct terminology is “undocumented,” instead of the much more pejorative and loaded term, “illegal.”
A very busy day for the assembly, with more business still to come tomorrow…