This was the last day of the assembly, half day actually, and yet a busy one.
Some previous actions first:
Yesterday, late on Thursday, it was reported that Lutheran CORE, who had an information and hospitality suite, had experienced vandalism, “destruction of property.” As it turned out, what had happened was the signs they had placed in the hallway that identified the location of their suite had been stolen, along with the hotel easels they were standing on. They had the signs remade; those too were taken. The final time they had them made by the hotel service support people and put on heavier stock. This sort of behavior is childish, uncalled for, and ill-becoming someone purporting to be a Christian. Worse it is an offense to a visitor to the house of the ELCA, and an unnecessary embarrassment to the church. It certainly does not do the cause of full inclusion and graceful engagement any good either. Emily Eastwood met with Pastor Mark Chavez of Lutheran CORE to express our sorrow and outrage that this had happened to them, assuring him that LC/NA had nothing to do with that sort of behavior. Pastor Chavez said that he knew from his experience of Lutherans Concerned that we didn’t.
Among the Memorials dealt with “en bloc” on Wednesday were categories E1 and E2 in the pre-assembly packet of memorials that you can see on the ELCA website, www.elca.org. Found in those two categories were memorials from the South Dakota Synod and the South Carolina Synod asking that this assembly rescind the Social Statement on Human Sexuality and reinstate the ministry policy in effect before the 2009 Churchwide Assembly decisions. The Memorials Committee recommendation was to receive the memorials with gratitude and decline to do so. These memorials were never removed from “en bloc” for separate treatment, and so the “en bloc” recommendation was adopted with the vote taken to accept the recommendations in all the memorials remaining “en bloc”
To today’s actions:
NALC — The assembly voted to invite dialog with the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), and to strive for mutual relationship where possible. NALC is home to many of the congregations that disaffiliated from the ELCA because of the change of policy in 2009/10.
Matthew Wertman, a youth, put forward a motion to encourage the church to maintain and strengthen a structure for youth faith formation. Harrison Jones and Hanna Kanouse, both youth, rose to speak in favor of the motion. Bishops Mauney and Burnside both deplored the loss of a national organizational structure. Debate was ended because of the amended rule that such would happen if there were 4 speakers in a row on any side. The assembly voted 766-166 in favor of the motion, details of which will be on the ELCA website.
Lutheran Campus Ministry (LCM) – in the recent round of budget cuts, Lutheran Campus Ministry had 38% of its already strapped budget cut. Jason Nicolson proposed an amendment to the Memorials Committee substitute for the memorials that had come in seeking to restore the funding cut in the budget. The Memorials Committee had recommended referring the memorials to the Congregational and Synodical Mission unit for ongoing consultation with the Conference of Bishops, the churchwide Administrative Team and campus ministry partners. Jason’s amendment sought to establish a liaison in the Conference of Bishops on youth matters, to create a consultation protocol when decisions are proposed within the Church Council regarding Lutheran Campus Ministry staffing, and to restore the cut funding for next year and stabilize that funding for a period of 5 years to enable time for the development of sustainable funding. The restoration and stabilizing portion was ruled out of order by the chair because it had been submitted after the deadline for motions with budget implications. The assembly adopted the amendment as the main motion, less the out of order portion, instead of the Memorials Committee substitute. Ryan Birkman, a youth, rose to say that people came back to the church through LCM, that it creates leaders, raises up hope for the future, and that he was back in the church and in a leadership position because of LCM. Pastor Katrina Foster rose to say that she is a product of Lutheran Campus Ministry and that the actions of the church to cut funding were “penny-wise, pound foolish.” Debate was ended because of an amended rule that no more than 10 minutes debate was to be had on subjects remaining. The assembly voted 796-93 to adopt Jason’s amendment, but not a dime was restored to Lutheran Campus Ministry by that action.
The final memorial was to change the criteria for voting members. Currently, voting members to the churchwide assembly were 60% lay and 40% clergy. Rostered lay leaders (Associates in Ministry, Deacons, Deaconesses) were counted against the lay total. The memorial sought to have the 40% group criterion changed to be “rostered leaders” and thereby have those lay leaders counted in that category. The Memorials Committee recommendation was to decline to do so. The assembly voted 676-196 to follow the Memorials Committee recommendation.
The assembly adjourned to worship.
Thanks for reading these messages. Hope they were helpful.