Author Topic: Thursday morning  (Read 1134 times)

Richard Johnson

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Thursday morning
« on: August 08, 2019, 09:44:57 AM »
Wednesday evening there was a big shindig at the Milwaukee Art Museum, hosted by the Campaign for the ELCA and the college, university, seminary presidents. Open bar, heavy hors' d'oeuvres, followed (I'm told; I didn't stay that long) by fireworks over Lake Michigan. Lovely event, though there were some wondering at the cost.

Contemplating the results of the first ballot for secretary. As I predicted, Sue Rothmeyer had a substantial lead on the first ballot. Deacon, woman, clearly has the experience and competence to do the job (she is currently assistant to the secretary/executive for office of the secretary administration). She is the candidate who most of the churchwide staff and leadership is probably rooting for. Far behind is second place was Stephen Herr, pastor at Christ, Gettysburg, who has held a number of positions of significance, including a term on the church council. He's also a historian, well acquainted with the archives and records aspect of the secretary's job. Third is Lamont Wells, assistant to the bishop in Metro NY, African American. He's been before the assembly a couple of times already, as president of the African Descent Lutheran Association. He may have come off as too "prophetic" for such a ministerial office, but with the emphasis on racism here I would expect him to be one of the finalists. The other African American in the running, Kwame Pitts, is pretty far back in the balloting and came across as pretty strident in her one speaking at this assembly; her resume is also, shall we say, lacking in much that would seem to qualify her for this job (one interim pastorate and a half-time campus ministry gig). Bp. Matthew Riegel came in fourth, but quite a distance between him and Wells, and I suspect he shot himself in the foot with his questioning the wisdom of declaring the ELCA a sanctuary church body. Next is John Emery, an attorney from New Mexico; don't know much about him, but apparently before NM he was in the midwest and was a synod vice president and on the board of Wartburg Sem, so he's got some contacts. He currently serves on the ELCA Committee on Discipline. Paul Baglyos is next; he's had a number of positions in Regions 3, 7 and 8, Wartburg Seminary, Thiel College--so on paper, an attractive candidate, but again, he's pretty far back in the pack on ballot one. Number 7 is Tyler Rasmussen, a young pastor in his first call so probably not viable to keep moving up.

The second ballot will contain all the names listed on the first ballot, and again requires 75% for election, then the third ballot is restricted to the top seven, the fourth to the top three. I think when it is down to seven, the seven are invited to respond to three questions; then when it is at three, they can address the assembly.

My guess is that the seven will end up being Rothmeyer, Herr, Wells, Riegel, Emery, Baglyos and then possibly Pitts (since there is some agitation in some quarters for a "woman of color"). But of course that's just a guess, and we won't know until this afternoon.

PB introduced Dr. Abuom, World Council of Churches Central Committee moderator to lead morning devotions. She is Kenyan, first African to hold the position. She then brings greetings and addresses the assembly, mostly about the WCC's "Thursdays in Black" campaign (theme: "Towards a world without rape and violence"). Standing ovation.

Reference and Counsel committee brings resolution that the ELCA calls upon all people to participate in the Thursdays in Black campaign. No discussion; PB "Are you ready to vote"? She urges members to treat their voting machines with gentleness. (Yesterday she compared them to a string of Christmas lights: one goes out, the whole string goes out.) The result: Yes, 891; No, 4. It has passed (she doesn't say anything about the subsequent applause). Most of the assembly members are wearing black today, including (rather unusually) the clergy.

Vice president takes chair and calls on PB for her report. She recalls the theme she introduced previously: ""We are church, we are Lutheran, we are church together, and we are church for the sake of the world." Her report is punctuated with short videos about various ministries and programs across the ELCA. Nicely done, interesting videos.

Horne returns chair to Bp. Eaton.

After a hymn, the elections committee reports. There were 114  "tickets," and all but three had a candidate receive a majority. With these three, the assembly proceeds to vote in the "run-off." Again, a rather silly pro forma process, with so many positions to fill and so little knowledge of any of the candidates. For whom would I vote for church council, Keoni Newman of Spanaway WA or Lamont rouse of East Orange, NJ?  Multiply that by 114. Well, the assembly voted for Newman. Whoever he is. There's got to be a better way to do this. The three additional elections are complete, and we now go back to memorials. Oh boy.

Motion before us is the motion to postpone consideration discussion on the social statement on church and state until after the discussion of immigration. Bp. Eaton has to think for a moment to figure out what exactly we're voting on. "That was last week, wasn't it?" Yes, feels like it. But at last we get back on track, and a Minneapolis member speaks in opposition to postponing. The motion to postpone is defeated, 285-594. So we're back to the motion to authorize the development of a social statement on "government, civic engagement and the relationship of church and state in accordance with the 'Policies and Procedures of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for Addressing Social Concerns.'" Bp. Riegel recalls Bp. Lull's statement yesterday that we have plenty of resources in Augustine, Luther, etc., "and I found my otherwise stone cold heart to be strangely warmed." He notes we also have statements from the predecessor church bodies which are excellent. Riegel suggests that we shouldn't authorize this expensive proposal without reviewing all these statements. A Minnesota member speaks in favor. Another member moves referral to the Church Council for consideration. Resource person Dr. Willard says that the churchwide assembly must authorize a social statement, and then the church council tends to issues such as cost, procedure, etc. Willard, Eaton and Boerger are conferring. Bp Eaton: "churchwide assembly shall approve issues for development, and then church council shall oversee development." (Not clear whether assembly "authorization" requires the council to move on it.) It appears that she has ruled that the motion to refer is therefore out of order, though she hasn't actually said this. Member from Chicago: members of the ELCA are confused about church's role in social issues. We need a more up to date statement. Question for Dr. Willard: what kinds of issues would such a statement address? Many people learn by listening, others by reading. I would refer you to the background provided, which responds to that question. Things like "how do we understand the nature of government? What does it mean to be a citizen? What is the relationship between faith and citizenship?--those are the kinds of things such a statement could address." Member from NJ motion to amend to change "social statement" to "social message." We need a timely resource; five years is too long. Member from North Carolina, seminarian, I've been studying social statements in seminary. Yes, social message is a short document, but it doesn't give us the depth for significant conversations. Someone raises a point of order asking what had happened to the earlier amendment; it was declared out of order because it does not follow the procedures for dealing with social statement proposals. Willard: the CWA doesn't authorize social messages, only social statements; church council authorizes social messages. Another huddle at the back of the stage. The assembly is getting restless, doing the wave. Bp Eaton: This is out of order, but how about changing the motion from "authorize" to "request" a social message. Proposed amendment now reads: "To request the development of an ELCA social message on government, civic engagement and what it means to be a public church and the relationship of church and state ..." A member wonders if it is possible to request both a social message and a social statement. Bishop Eaton, musing: "Six more years." Loud laughter. Willard: Not possible to request them at the same time, but in the past sometimes a group working on a social statement has requested a more immediate social message while still working on the larger process. Member requests referral to committee to learn the rationale for why they recommended THIS social statement recommendation rather than others. Memorials committee cochair responds that the committee felt this topic represented the biggest "hole" in our current documents. Member asks for a refresher course on the difference in congregational involvement in developing a statement versus a message. Willard: A message generally develops a draft, requests congregational feedback; not as thorough as with a social statement, but sort of an abridged version of it. Message speaks in favor of a message: "I'm old, and this election coming up is the scariest one in my lifetime. We need a clear statement from our church as to the role of church and state." The maker of the motion asks for a minor punctuation amendment in her original motion because it "offends my grammatical sensibilities." The house agrees.

Member from NY: What precludes us from asking for both a social statement and a social message at this time? Willard: Nothing precludes using both sets of language. I would add that those of us responsible for this have heard you loud and clear about the need for a timely process. Previous question is moved. Green card vote approves. Vote is now on the amendment to request a social message: The ayes have it. Parliamentary confusion in the chair. BP: what we have now is the amended memorial (which now calls for a social message). But now we're at the orders of the day.

Secretary Boerger presents constitution & bylaw amendments, for consideration tomorrow (to avoid the same problem we had at the beginning of the assembly!). Eaton: "We're fulfilling all righteousness and following our constitution, which warms your heart." Boerger: "My heart is strangely warmed, because our Bible study leader today is from the United Methodist church." Announcements. Recess for worship.

« Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 11:32:04 AM by Richard Johnson »
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Thursday morning
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2019, 11:51:35 AM »
Boerger: "My heart is strangely warmed, because our Bible study leader today is from the United Methodist church."

And you and I know that John Wesley's experience of having his heart "strangely warmed" occurred as he was hearing Luther's definition of "faith" from the preface to his commentary on Romans.
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Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Thursday morning
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2019, 01:31:48 PM »
Once upon a time, the church publishing house would have gotten theologians to publish articles and books on the subject.

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TERJr

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Re: Thursday morning
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2019, 01:57:25 PM »
Once upon a time, the church publishing house would have gotten theologians to publish articles and books on the subject.

kyrie eleison, spt+
Forgive us Father, for we have synod.

Once upon a time, we had theologians. Paul Hinlicky would be a good option but I strongly doubt he would be appointed if he were interested and willing.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 02:07:11 PM by TERJr »