Author Topic: Friday morning  (Read 1417 times)

Richard Johnson

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Friday morning
« on: August 09, 2019, 10:41:23 AM »
Session begins on time with the singing (I knew it was coming) of "Mothering God, you gave me birth." There is LOTS left on the agenda to be done today and tomorrow morning. I don't know how they would have managed if the election for Presiding Bishop had gone beyond one ballot, especially if it had gotten to the "speaking to the assembly" stage.

First item of business continuation of election. A motion to amend the orders of the day is presented to begin Bible study at 12:30 and plenary at 1:00, "allowing us more time to get our work done." Consultation. Eaton: "I'll make this deal with you. We can do this, the Bible study leader is a voting member. But then you all have to come to Bible study." (laughter and some Amens) Pretty tight lunch hour, especially if Eucharist runs over. Motion to amend requires 2/3; the vote is 561 to 272 (very close, 67.35%).

Motion that amendments to constitution (specific ones, apparently those related to entrance rite for Word and Service) be set as order of the day at 2:30 this afternoon. Tom Drobena, Slovak Zion Synod, speaks in favor. (I'm listing his name because he's a friend of mine; he doesn't specify his pronouns.) Motion to set this as order of the day this afternoon is approved, 743-90.

Metro NY Synod member moves that memorials committee report be heard this morning. Bp. Jessica Crist asks that revised agenda might be put on the screen, there have been so many changes. PB notes that if the assembly would behave itself, we would get to memorials this morning. She is asked what she had hoped would transpire this morning. Response: Secretary process, social statement Faith Sexism Justice, resolutions, memorials if time. Continued conversation like this is going to eat up a lot of time. Bp. Riegel: "Sorry, I like you, but here we are. We MUST deal with constitutional amendments; memorials, if necessary, can be handled by church council, amendments cannot." Motion to go to amend schedule by going to memorials this morning is defeated, 370-485. Eaton: "The motion has failed. Good." laughter "I mean that we're finished with debate and moving forward."

Bishop announces that one candidate, Mr. Emory, had a perforated appendix and is in the hospital. The other candidates introduce themselves. Only one of them (Rasmussen) tells us he/him/his pronouns. Secretary candidates responding to three questions. First question: Council and Bishops have identified congregational vitality and leadership as priorities. How would you as secretary support this?

First up is Sue Rothmeyer: Secretary's office is key to this, supporting congregations on everything from legal matters to constitutions. We ask questions about vitality in annual report. We work with multicultural folks in assessing ethnic diversity in congregations. Vitality can be enhanced by congregational constitutions.
Peter Severson (from Colorado, works for LOPP, is a member of Nadia's congregation): Secretary's office is important in our understanding of what congregational vitality means, what aspects of the congregation's life are significant.
Stephen Herr (pastor, Christ, Gettysburg): Secretary partners with all other parts of the church, enabling our relationships with one another.
Tyler Rasmussen (pastor Trinity, Coopersburg PA): Talks about need to get out of the box of "membership" and welcome everyone.
Lamont Wells: "Peace to you from God our parent" I would be sure that our governing documents are used for critical guidance by providing clear direction establishing safe church practices and policies.
Jon Anderson (bishop SW MN): I would be a teaching secretary. As a bishop, I've seen "the whole."

Second question: How do you see the office of the secretary interacting with churchwide and other parts of this church?
Anderson: I like the image of body of Christ. I'd think of this in terms of body talk. Secretary serves alongside all other parts of the church. I'd focus on equipping people. Using video technology.
Rothmeyer: Office is a service unit for the whole church. Gives several examples. When people ask me what I enjoy most in my current role, I say "working with the synods." When people email me a question, I usually phone them. 10% of the time I give them an answer, 40% point them to the appropriate page in the constitution; 50% say "come let us reason together" (She's had trouble both times finishing in the requisite 90 seconds)
Rasmussen: Secretary has the job of monitoring our laws. But in the church, the law doesn't just convict but calls us to repentance. We are met with the judgment of grace. We don't need someone who just tells us the law, but someone who helps the church participate in the minsitry of reconciliation. (He's a little shouty.)
Herr: Secretary's office exists to serve the gospel. As secretary, I would prioritize building relationships, listening, fostering cooperation. I would seek to link my faith and gifts with others as we work in service of the gospel. I would support PB and her vision for this church.
Wells: As someone who has worked as a leader in each of the three expressions of our church, I would lead by efficiently sharing information, promoting transparency. We're often bereft of accountability measures. Cites some paragraph of constitution that has been used "in various ways" (doesn't explain this, and I don't know what he's talking about). (He's also a little shouty, and doesn't finish in time)
Severson: Good leadership is in part learning how to disappoint people at a rate they can handle, leading with faith, humility and love. Record keeping, statistics, archives, all indispensable parts of good governance. Staff should be known and accessible to synods and bishops; congregations should feel info requested from them are relevant and not burdensome.

Third question: "well-governed sustainable church" goal of Directions 2025 How would you use the role of Secretary to enhance governance in this church?
Herr: Mentions that he was on the task force that developed Directions 2025. Effective mission requires good governance. I would want to hear from synod secretaries, congregations, etc. etc. so that together we might collaborate and come together to find the kind of governance that helps us continue to maintain a Lutheran witness.
Wells: Our polity is unique, neither congregational nor hierarchical. We must always maintain the centrality of Jesus. A secretary who is a strategic thinker is vital. Cites Lowell Almen's emphasis on key questions: how is the church governed, who are ministers of the church, who are congregations of the church.
Severson: Governance takes many forms, from congregational councils to the administrative team of churchwide. The secretary needs to be aware of how world around us is changing. Secretary's office has to do technical work of communication; could use tools not just for maintenance but for change.
Rothmeyer: I'm a card carrying member of the American Association of Parliamentarians. As geeky as that sounds, I've realized that Roberts rules are crucial to governance. (This time she stays within time limit)
Anderson: I'd seek to be a faithful steward of an amazingly gifted team. I've often called the secretary to get information I need, and it's always been very helpful. We've worked hard at governance, we need to work harder. Perhaps we should choose a more simple path once in a while, instead of a more complex path. I care about systems, detail work.
Rasmussen: As chair of my synod's constitution committee, many congregations have yelled "Help! We don't know what we're doing!" Legal problems are often due to poor governance. We must provide wisdom and guidance necessary to make governance work smoothly. We don't want congregations tied up in committees and rules. I've created a constitutional website to help congregations in my synod deal with these issues.

Question if it is possible to get written response from Mr. Emery. Response: he is in surgery as we speak, and didn't submit anything ahead of time beyond his bio.

General impressions: Rothmeyer came across as capable, but perhaps a too enthusiastic. Herr competent, low key. Anderson, kind of boring. Rasmussen and Wells, identity politics oriented. Severson, calm and thoughtful but inexperienced.

Ballot will be taken later in the morning.

Now the presentation of the proposed Social Statement, Faith, Sexism and Justice. Begin with silence and prayer. Credentials committee: as of 8:45, 932 voting members

Boerger reads recommendation to adopt proposed statement as a social statement of the ELCA. Co-chair Leslie Swanson presents an introduction. the other cochair offers some amendments which came up in conversation with voting members. Problem: what's being presented on the screen is not what is being read. It's unclear what the amendment is, but it is adopted by 96%

The next one adds a sentence to a footnote which makes clear that this social statement does not intend to contradict the 2009 sexuality statement which says ELCA members have four different positions on homosexuality. This one passes 778-63. I'm actually surprised there was no discussion of this.

The next one deletes the word Lutheran from a heading "Faith, Sexism and Justice: A Lutheran Call to Action" on the grounds that other social statements avoid emphasizing Lutheran but speak to public and ecumenical audiences as well.  Approved 769-108

That concludes the proposed amendments from the task force. Now we consider any other amendments. There apparently are none.

Social statement adopted 863-26 (97.08%). Standing ovation, which the bishop does not squelch. Assembly rises to sing "Canticle of the Turning."

Motion to adopt implementing resolutions; unanimous consent to dispense with reading them. A member express discomfort that we have not prayed for John Emory, and Bishop Eaton offers prayer. There's a proposed amendment to the implementing resolutions calling for addressing pay inequity and family leave. Approved 838-22.

Bp. Manholt tries to move a change to orders of the day; Eaton declares him out of order as there is business on the floor.

An amendment: To explore development of an inclusive language lectionary similar to the psalter in ELW. A member of the church council opposes. We do not have a single lectionary, we have a list of lessons; a congregation is free to use any translation it might wish. Pastor from Sierra Pacific Synod (they, them, their). I would disagree with the last speaker (but she doesn't really address what he said). Motion is approved 553-312.

The next one just encourages WELCA and Lutheran Men in Mission to "continue and expand their work to address the issues" in this social statement. No speaking to it. Motion adopted 823-47.

Next one adds "Bible studies" to call for ELCA to publish various materials that foster gender equity. Adopted 844-23.

Next one calls for church in all expressions to provide anti-sexism training and protocols, "and to support rostered ministers who experience sexual misconduct or gender-based harassment, as well as pastoral care resources for all affected by sexism." Swell, more training. Motion adopted 849-37

Next one: Direct church council to establish a process for "public repentance regarding the sins of patriarchy and sexism and establish a churchwide day of confession and repentance no later than the 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly." Coming soon to an ELCA congregation near you. Motion adopted 745-131.

Now the whole list of implementing resolutions is before the body. Any additional amendments? No. Apparently there's going to be no discussion, as we move directly to prayer. Iowa member wonders when the change was made to require 2/3 vote on implementing resolutions. PB calls on Dr. Willer "I've made it to the top of the stage," he quips (he's been on the edges till now). Answer is it was changed by the church council last year. (Would that this had been the case in 2009.) Implementing resolutions approved, 864-30.

Bp, Mansholt again: Move to amend orders of the day to put Bible study at 1, plenary at 1:30. We've placed our Bible study leader in a very difficult position; our worship services have been running a little over, and it isn't realistic to get from lunch to Bible study by 12:30. Motion to amend the schedule is defeated, 512-322 (requires 2/3).

Bp.: I'm delighted to introduce Bishop April Larson, the first woman bishop in the ELCA. Standing ovation. Larson: "You're cutting into my seconds." Speaks about her mother's colorful gardens: "The conference of bishops is beginning to look like my mother's gardens." She tells several stories about her experiences as ordained woman. In seminary, all professors were male. Only thing she ever heard about a woman in Scripture was a church history professor who stated that the only difference between Roman Catholics and Orthodox is that Roman Catholics speak of "Mary, MOTHER of our Lord" while Orthodox speak of "Mary, mother of OUR LORD." First woman's voice she ever heard preaching was her own voice. Standing ovation.

Third ballot for secretary is taken. Credentials committee: 932 voting members. They are using the machines, so the tabulation will be immediate. Quick PR video. Here's the result:
908 votes, needed 606

Rothmeyer 251
Herr 184
Wells 170
Severson 114
Anderson 101
Rasmussen 78
Emery 10

Top three will address the assembly this afternoon. This does not bode well for Rothmeyer, who lost more than 100 votes. Herr and Wells both gained about the same. So now the three choices: female deacon, white male pastor, African American pastor. The next ballot will be really interesting. If I were guessing at this point, I would think the majority of the Anderson votes, and maybe the Severson votes, would migrate to Herr. But a lot depends on how well they present themselves in their speaking to the assembly this afternoon.

« Last Edit: August 09, 2019, 11:31:49 AM by Richard Johnson »
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS


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Re: Friday morning
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2019, 11:10:49 AM »
Pastor Wells referred to Model Constitution for Synods S13.24 and S13.25, which refer to synod administration of congregations.
The Rev. Ryan P. Gage
Eureka, SD

Richard Johnson

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Re: Friday morning
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2019, 11:48:37 AM »
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Richard Johnson

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Re: Friday morning
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2019, 01:57:02 PM »
Eucharist rather raucous; gospel choir, and then a VERY long procession that seemed to include all the clergywomen who are present (or most of them--maybe a couple hundred). It came dangerously close to being one of those occasions that hijacks the Eucharist for an ideological purpose; sermon on the text from Matthew "Do not trouble the woman." Photos of ordained women being flashed on the screen behind the altar. The liturgy itself was mostly OK, and I enjoyed singing "Blessed Assurance." (Methodist roots, you know.)

But it did run long, and while a few people brought their lunch into Bible study, the attendance is pretty sparse. Leaer is Dr. Niveen Sarras, a Palestinian who has written on violence in the Hebrew Bible. She serves Immanuel Lutheran Church in Wassau, WI. Theme is Miriam the Prophetess.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS