Author Topic: Thursday afternoon plenary: Part 2  (Read 1324 times)

Richard Johnson

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Thursday afternoon plenary: Part 2
« on: August 18, 2011, 06:19:04 PM »
Thursday afternoon Plenary part 2

After singing a hymn, Bp. Hanson defended the R&C and other committees, who do the work of the assembly, taking long hours, and not always with the possibility of “announcing” their meetings to the assembly. The assembly responded with a standing ovation. Clearly the imputation of unfairness made by some previous speakers was not widely shared.

The presiding bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church (“our newest ecumenical partner”) was introduced, and spoke to the assembly.

After singing “In Christ There Is No East or West,” the assembly took up recommendations relating to LIFT. The first proposed amendment, from James L. Pence, would add a provision “to initiate a process to expand support for the work of pastors that encourages congregations and synods to invest in ongoing professional development for and regular formative feedback of rostered clergy serving in ELCA congregations.” R&C moved to refer to Congregational and Synodical mission unit. Mr. Pence took the floor to plea for specific support for professional development for pastors. Motion to refer carried.

Then the omnipresent amendment by Serena Sellers to insert “institutions of the church.” Since the assembly earlier agreed to do this in another place, R&C throws in the towel and recommends that it be done here as well. Motion carried.

That disposed of, the seven implementing resolutions of LIFT were taken up as amended. Yes, I know, it sounded like this was already done, but this is an inexplicable second set of recommendations, directing Bishop, Council, and Conference of Bishops as follows:
(1)   Facilitate review of constitutional responsibilities of synods . . .
(2)   Facilitate broad-based process addressing legislative decision-making . . .
(3)   Initiate process to expand consultative role of Conference of Bishops . . .
(4)   Explore use of social media . . .
(5)   Initiate collaborative work by congregations, synods, etc. to create and support non-legislative forums and events
(6)   Request units of churchwide to propose ways of receiving grass roots input
(7)   Request annual reports to Church Council through 2013.

Motion adopted, completing the work of the assembly on LIFT (“though the work of this church has just begun”).

Now they took up constitutional amendments related to redesign of churchwide organization. There is a proposal to amend the proposed change to 17.30.A11.b, so that has been pulled out, but all the rest is before the assembly. Motion approved.

The amendment to the paragraph pulled out would require the Mission Investment Fund to provide student loans for seminary students. Bp. Hanson ruled it out of order, on the grounds that the governing constitutional provision for the Mission Investment Fund does not provide for any loans to individuals. The proposed paragraph as originally presented was moved, and adopted.

The winner of the Living Lutheran Video contest: Individual: Katie Osweiler, Woburn, MA. Congregation category, Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta.

New president of WELCA, Jennifer Michael, was introduced and spoke to the assembly.

More constitutional amendments: The only request for separate consideration is one paragraph in the provision (both in the ELCA constitution and congregational model constitution) related to the process by which a congregation terminates its relationship with the ELCA. The remainder of the proposed amendments were presented en bloc, and they were approved, 889-26.

Now the one pulled out: This is the provision that “if a congregation fails to achieve the required 2/3 vote . . . at the first meeting . . . another special meeting . . . may be called no sooner than six months after that first meeting.” This is the provision considered so onerous by some. The intent of this proposal is to allow the congregation time for healing and discernment. The provision was opposed by Pr. Matthew Riegel. Six month period neither informs nor clarifies, though it prevents the congregation from exercising its rights. Bp. Bolick of NC spoke in favor of the proposed amendment: congregations can grow in many ways, and this gives them time to grow in their life together. Voting every two weeks until the 2/3 is achieved is not healthy for the congregation’s mission. Allowing time is a salutary thing. Bp. Burke spoke in favor. The previous question was moved and carried, and the constitutional amendment was approved by a vote of 862-79.

Bp. Hanson welcomed Bp. Susan Johnson, National Bp. of the ELCIC, who was greeted with a standing ovation and who then addressed the assembly.

After hymn sing, Bp. announced that time would be extended to 6:30. Motion to limit speeches to 1 minute, with maximum 10 minutes on an individual question. Motion carried.

Memorials committee now up. Memorial regarding immigration reform and DREAM act, which would affirm commitment of ELCA and LIRS to support comprehensive immigration reform, and request presiding bishop to communicate to president and congress the support of the ELCA for comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act; and encourage ELCA members to support as well. There was speaking in favor of the recommendation. Motion adopted.

Next was the obligatory Middle East resolution, encouraging members, congregations, etc. to “seek ways to achieve a deeper understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” etc. The recommendation also “decline to undertake a review of the investment of funds managed within the ELCA,” and there was a motion to strike “decline” (and thus provide for a review of the investments). [You’ve got to wonder about the corporate wisdom that can be exercised by an assembly at 6 p.m., after four hours without a break.] Motion to strike “decline” was defeated 146-762. The recommendation from R&C was approved, 868-73.

A memorial that would “recognize and celebrate the central role of farmers and ranchers in providing an abundant supply of food and fiber for our nation and the world” and “acknowledge the central importance of agriculture.”  Motion carried with no debate.

After announcements, the plenary was in recess.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS