Author Topic: Thursday afternoon penary part 1: Genetics and budget  (Read 1448 times)

Richard Johnson

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Thursday afternoon penary part 1: Genetics and budget
« on: August 18, 2011, 04:33:12 PM »
Thursday afternoon plenary

Thursday morning worship was again not terribly inspiring. ELCI National Bishop Susan Johnson, with a Korean preacher from the Rocky Mountain Synod. It was the usual stuff about making the church a welcome place (and of course we had to sing Marty Haugen’s hymn to us, “All Are Welcome”). The service ended with the option of having one’s hands anointed for service in the world, which I reluctantly had to decline.

The session began with recognition of John Kapanke, retiring president of the ELCA Board of Pensions. He has served since the founding of the ELCA (and prior to that served in the LCA board), and was warmly thanked.

A gift from the Lutheran Church in Haiti was presented by their president.

Herbert Chilstrom and Lowell Almen were presented (along with their wives); H. George Anderson is recuperating from surgery and was unable to be present.

Those seminary presidents who were present were introduced and thanked. Unfortunately nobody gave the camera person a guide, so only one president was being pictured while introduced (whoever it was that was in the middle of the line).

Discussion resumed on the social statement on genetics. Seems like nearly everyone who speaks is either a geneticist or some other scientist, or someone with some genetic disease, or someone who has other “first hand experience” with the issues. But the debate was meandering and uninspiring and sometimes utterly astonishing. Some examples:

“Social statements are not law, they are gospel.” OK, then. Another pastor reported that the statement will be a pastoral resource and provide words for solace and comfort for those struggling with genetic illness. I’ve actually found the Bible pretty useful in that regard, but whatever floats your boat, I guess. A youth tried to draw an analogy with The Planet of the Apes. A professor of Hawaiian Studies somewhere said that the statement is very encouraging to some native peoples who see plants and animals as their ancestors. A motion to close debate was made by a being with a human genome, and debate was, in fact, closed, 827-71

A question was asked about whether the sidebars are part of the statement to be acted upon, and it was answered, “no.” After prayer for wisdom, the statement was adopted 942-34 (nearly 97%), followed by applause and cheers.

Next came the implementing resolutions to the social statement. A proposed amendment, recommended by the Ad Hoc committee, would ask for an annual report on implementation of the social statement each year through 2015. A motion was made to suspend the rules for the purpose of voting on both the amendment and all the implementing resolutions en bloc. It was agreed, and so the assembly voted on everything at once. Motion approved.

(I neglected to mention that the bishop had threatened an evening plenary session this evening if we didn’t make good progress on things this afternoon; that may have contributed to this rush to judgment attitude.)

After yet another “What does it mean to live Lutheran” video, the assembly turned to the budget proposal. Several amendments had been proposed which shifted funding around in one way or another, mostly affecting seminaries, Lutheran Campus Ministry, Lutheran Outdoor Ministry. R&C recommends against these proposed amendments. Bp. Mark Olson, NE MN, said, “I attended the R&C meeting last night and this morning, and there was no discussion of this; when did you meet?” Answer: over the noon hour. Q: Was this a public meeting? Was it announced? A: there was no announcement. Justin Grimm, one of the proposers of amendment, moved it. His particular amendment would apply an across the board reduction of 11.11% to “all nine ministry programs, [of grants in the Congregational and Synodical Mission Unit budget].” The upshot of this is to shift funding around to provide additional money for campus ministry and some other items. Apparently some of this would be taken from seminaries, since somebody just urged a negative vote for fear of impacting seminaries. (Forgive me if I’m not quite up on this; can’t seem to find the right page.)

Typical budget discussion, pitting one thing against another, and degenerating into utter confusion. On, and on, and on . . . where is someone to move the previous question? There are more than a dozen people still lined up at the mic. FINALLY someone moves the previous question. Bp. Hanson reminded the assembly that the rules require a 2/3 vote for adoption of any change to the budget not recommended by the R&C committee, and then the vote was to close debate. The vote on the proposed amendment was defeated, 259-683.

Now Pr. Mark Olson moved his amendment to the budget, which had something of the same intention but with different figures. This one would redirect money specified for seminaries (some $400,000) to Lutheran Campus Ministry, Horizon Internships, and Lutheran Outdoor Ministries. His point is that these programs are the “pipeline” for seminaries, and cutting them will ultimately harm the seminaries. A motion to limit debate on amendments to one minute (requires 2/3 because it requires suspension of the rules). Motion carried. Debate on the amendment continued, which was meaningless because the first person at the mic moved the previous question, and so did the body. The vote on the amendment to the budget failed, 361-581.

Next, kind of oddly, we proceeded to some R&C recommendations unrelated to the budget. The first one called for inviting tribal leaders of Native American tribes to “every ELCA Churchwide Organization sponsored event.” Well, gee, maybe that is related to the budget. At least that’s the rationale for the committee determining the motion is out of order—because it would require an amendment to the budget. But they did recommend that “out of respect for the realities brought forth in the resolution . . .it be referred to the Congregation and Synodical Mission Uit for consultation with the American Indian and Alaska Native Ministries to identify ways to address the intent of this mission.” Was this approved at a pubic meeting of R&C? No. Then, said a voting member, I ask that you apologize. Shame on you! (says he). But, uh oh, the next speaker identified himself as a member of the Cherokee Nation, and thanked the committee for its recommendation, and spoke in favor of it. And then several others who identified themselves as Native American supported the motion as well. Motion to refer approved, 899-46.

One last motion, calling on assembly to direct the Church Council to purchase a tree in Luthergarten in Wittenberg/Lutherstadt. I’m not kidding. Motion from R&C is to refer it to office of the bishop for consideration. Now another attempt to speed things along that just ends up prolonging it: a motion that would bring debate to a close after four speeches on one side of any issue (i.e., when there’s nobody opposed). This is a change in the rules, and so required 2/3, and got it. Now back to referral recommendation. Someone from Northeastern Ohio Synod: “We’ll solve this; our synod will buy the tree.” Of course it didn’t solve it, since a vote still had to be taken. Motion to refer carried, 855-73

They’re really getting punch drunk here.

Now the budget recommendation as a whole, which has not been amended: 2012 current fund authorization of $61,792,900, and World Hunger income proposal of $18,500,000. 2013: current fund income proposal of $61,939,400; World hunger income proposal of $18,500,000; with authorization to Church Council to establish a spending authorization after period review of income estimates. 919-33, budget adopted.

The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Daniel L. Gard

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Re: Thursday afternoon penary part 1: Genetics and budget
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2011, 09:14:59 PM »
I did not know that the ELCA voted on the budget during the CWA. Fascinating. I would have nightmares about the LCMS doing that in one of our conventions - think of it as a gigantic parish Voters' Assembly.