Author Topic: Church Council Shrinks, Jordan Bishop Pleads  (Read 3236 times)

Richard Johnson

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Church Council Shrinks, Jordan Bishop Pleads
« on: August 13, 2005, 09:51:42 AM »
On Saturday morning, the mood was considerably changed at the Orlando Churchwide Assembly. It was certainly less colorful, the rainbow scarves having virtually disappeared (the only one we saw this morning was on Corinne Chilstrom). No lines of greeters, no gifts being handed out. Kind of boring.

The first action, which sailed through without debate, was a sort of general ribbon wrapped around all the ethnic community outreach strategies (both the Arab/Middle Eastern and African Descent plans adopted this year, and previous strategies adopted earlier). The Assembly committed the ELCA to “confront the scandalous realities of racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, age, gender, familial, sexual, physical, personal, and class barriers that often manifest themselves in exclusion, poverty, hunger, and violence.” We take that to mean that barriers that don’t manifest themselves that way are still OK.

Also adopted with scarcely a word of debate was the budget proposal of around $98,000,000 for each of the next two years. Here the story is contained in a note to the budget presentation: “An area of continued concern for the churchwide organization is the decline in anticipated revenue from synods through mission support. While stead increases in mission support occurred each year between 1994 and 2000, 2001 mission-support revenue was flat and decreases were realized in 2002, 2003, and 2004. Estimates from synods for 2005 allow little expectation for significant increases.” The only discussion from the floor lamented the poor stewardship of voting members’ own congregations, synods, and pastors. (One winsome young member noted that we needed better stewardship from all ELCA members—excepting, of course, those present here and those listening in on the webcast!) The budget was approved, without even a proposed amendment, by 97%.

Greetings were heard from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Lutheran World Federation, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sierra Leone.

The Assembly then returned to the governance proposal. Bishop Hanson reminded the house that they had approved Bp. Rogness’s motion that the size of the Church Council be increased to 65 to allow for one representative from each synod. That motion now was the main motion, and the forces who opposed the Rogness plan were now armed and ready. There was a long debate, and all the arguments were marshaled: A larger Council will be unwieldy, expensive, inefficient, tending toward localism. Furthermore, handing the nominating process over to the synods would make it difficult to ensure representational correctness. The vastly different sizes of synods would lead to small synods being way overrepresented. (An Alaska speaker suggested basing representation on square mileage.) On the other side, the word “disconnect” was frequently spoken, or, by the more genteel, “improved communication.” There seemed to be somewhat of a geographic division here, with Upper Midwestern folks often speaking in favor of the Rogness amendment, Easterners speaking against. (It’s worth noting that Word Alone leadership, at least informally, was strongly supportive of the Rogness amendment. Politics makes strange bedfellows, and all that.)

In the end the Rogness proposal, which had squeaked through earlier in the week, was now defeated as the main motion, 464-505. Where that leaves things is a little unclear. It would seem to me to leave things just as they are, and without the original language that called for the 33 elected members to be nominated “on a rotating basis through synodical assemblies.” The chair, when asked, seemed a little confused as well, and made a comment about the Council needing to examine closely the language that was approved.

Next the Assembly was to take up the proposed “Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine”—but first it heard by telephone from Bishop Munib Younan of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. He emphasized his church’s commitment to justice, peace and reconciliation, but was uncompromising at one point: they must “speak prophetically against actions and policies that endanger all of us,” and that includes the “current route of the wall” which “will make freedom for Palestinians impossible. . . Our church believes in bridges, not walls.” “Please,” he asked, “don’t let extremists from any side or from any part of the world hold justice and peace hostage.”

The Assembly now has before it a revised “Strategy,” changes to which were worked out by some voting members after the hearing earlier this week, and approved by the Church Council on Thursday night, apparently in a special meeting.

It’s a complicated situation, of course, and opinions among U. S. Lutherans differ. The revised motion addresses some of the concerns of bias against the Israelis expressed by some voting members, but not all of their concerns, and there will be debate even on the revised text. It had just begun when time for worship began, and debate had to wait until later.

The morning Eucharist, incidentally, was to this reporter’s tastes the most satisfying so far this week. Music was excellent, and the presider was Pr. Khader N. El-Yateem, of the Salam Arabic Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, who led with grace and reverence. I almost had skipped the service to file this report, but I’m glad I didn’t.

roj in Orlando 8/13/05 12:50 p.m. EDT
     

The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Revbert

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Re: Church Council Shrinks, Jordan Bishop Pleads
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2005, 11:02:29 AM »
Richard

Has Ted Schnieder spoken on the resolution on Israel/Palestine?  I know he's been less than popular in some circles for pushing more balance, rather than a pro-Palestinian stand.

Also, is the ELCJ still referred to as the ELCJ (and Palestine)?  Is he not also the bishop overseeing Lutherans in Israel, too, or what is the status of those sisters and brothers?

Thanks!

Art

Richard Johnson

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Re: Church Council Shrinks, Jordan Bishop Pleads
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2005, 03:13:33 PM »
Quote
Richard

Has Ted Schnieder spoken on the resolution on Israel/Palestine?  I know he's been less than popular in some circles for pushing more balance, rather than a pro-Palestinian stand.

Also, is the ELCJ still referred to as the ELCJ (and Palestine)?  Is he not also the bishop overseeing Lutherans in Israel, too, or what is the status of those sisters and brothers?

Thanks!

Art


I didn't note him as a speaker, but I may have missed a name or two.

The references have been to ELC in Jordan and the Holy Land.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

ROB_MOSKOWITZ

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Re: Church Council Shrinks, Jordan Bishop Pleads
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2005, 06:58:14 PM »
Quote
(It’s worth noting that Word Alone leadership, at least informally, was strongly supportive of the Rogness amendment. Politics makes strange bedfellows, and all that.)




You do know that this was one of 3 recommendations proposed by WordAlone (via 12 synods) for beter representation synods in 2003.   I dont believe that the last time Rogness's name had anything to do with it.