Archived Boards > ELCA Churchwide Assembly 2007

Concluding Session for Real

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Richard Johnson:
OK, this afternoon I watched the on-line video of the concluding session, and here's my blow by blow:

After Bible study, Bishop Hanson called up the memorial on Palestinian/Israeli conflict, specifically the amendment that was before the house. He called on Bishop Payne, who was next at the microphone. Spoke in favor of the amendment, particularly the call to invest financially in the Palestinian economy.

Jessica McCallum from Michigan opposed amendment. “Creating conflict with Israel will not help the situation. We need to build a bridge between Israel and Palestine by being in economic partnership with both.

After the previous question was moved and sustained, the amendment was approved narrowly (51/49). Interesting to note that by this time, more than a quarter of the voting members had left.

Bishop Burnside, Wisconsin spoke in favor of the resolution.

At the request of a member, Rebecca Larson spoke on the consistency of this proposed resolution with current ELCA involvement in the Middle East. She reported that it was consistent in a variety of ways.

Pr. Bruce McLaughlin spoke against the resolution as amended. He noted concern for anything that might stoke anti-Semitism. Bishop Schreiber, SE Michigan, spoke in favor. Bp. Knoche, Delaware/Maryland proposed amendment by adding sentence: “Examination of investment would exclude the option of divestiture.” There was some unclarity about whether this might compromise fiduciary responsibilities given to the Board of Pensions; in consultation, it was determined that was not a problem. An 18-year-old voting member expressed frustration that it was unclear just what the import of this amendment would be. Bp. Knoche tried to explain it. Another young member moved the previous question on all matters before the house. The amendment from Bp. Knoche was adopted. The resolution was adopted 86/14%.

Bishop Hanson called on Heather Feldman, director of Lutheran Disaster Response, who gave an update on this vital ministry which we share with the LCMS. A video report was first shown, and then Ms. Feldman reported in person and was duly appreciated.

After another “Dwelling in the Word” moment, the Blue Ribbon Commission report was brought back to the floor. “To instruct the church council to continue the work begun by the Blue Ribbon Committee on Mission Funding, using methods they see as appropriate, with emphasis on the patterns and practices of how  congregations determine what mission-support dollars they will offer to their respective synods:
a.   The purpose of this process would be the development of additional strategies aimed at reducing, over a period of years, the wide variations in mission support received by the 65 synods as measured by the percentage of congregational  mission support  remitted or the dollars per attending member received;
b.   Congregations would be encouraged to share with the synods and the churchwide organization a minimum of 10% of their mission-support  dollars received, with planned annual increases to at least 15 percent;
c.   Preliminary reports of this effort would be shared by the Church Council with the Conference of Bishops with the final report presented at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.

Kevin Boatwright, Central States, opposed the amendment, seeing it as not germane to the rest of the recommendations and “cluttering up” the issues.  Pr. Clifton Suehr, SW PA, supported the amendment. “Stewardship is something that is caught more than it is taught.” Ruth Lauersen, E. Wash/Idaho spoke against. “I could not go back to my congregation with this amendment. I’m from a small congregation; we can’t afford to increase what we give.” Julie Baird, SE Iowa, asked to hear someone from the Blue Ribbon Task Force about the amendment. Grieg Anderson replied that the Task Force had considered target percentages, but had rejected them because they seem more like law than gospel, they imply a sense of scarcity rather than abundance, and because congregations face such a widely varying set of circumstances that target percentages might be discouraging. Is the amendment consistent with the report? The notion of increasing congregation support certainly would be. Bp. Rogness (St. Paul) spoke against the amendment, which, he says, presumes that per capita giving is the best measure of stewardship. This became a bit of a defensive speech, explaining why St. Paul is at the bottom of the list of synods in terms of general benevolence support, but really gives tons of money directly to colleges and other specific ministry causes. After a motion to close debate was approved (and we’re now down to fewer than 700 voting members, out of more than 1,000), the amendment was defeated (nearly 80% opposed). Now the special committee report was approved by a favorable vote of 92%.

Now greetings from Lutheran Services in America by a board member, Bp. Gregory Pile (Allegheny synod) and Ted Goins, President and CEO of Lutheran Services for the Aging, NC.

Next back to memorials, to consider one pulled out of en bloc. Category D-4. Apparently this was an effort to remove for separate consideration a memorial from Texas-Louisiana which would free up donations to Lutheran Disaster Relief to be used for rebuilding of churches. There was considerable parliamentary discussion. Memorials committee recommended referral of this (and similar) memorials to the church council. Bp. Blom essentially just wanted to highlight this, and was content to make his speech. A voting member moved an amendment that would immediately change the policy referenced. Bp. Warren of Southeast synod opposed the amendment, noting that the charter of LDR is ecumenical, and ELCA cannot unilaterally make changes in policy; and noting as well that the issues are very complex, and should not be dealt with in this way. Charles Miller reported that a consultation on these issues has been planned for September. In light of this, the maker of the motion withdrew his motion, and the house sustained that action. The recommendation of the Memorials Committee to refer was approved. House was now down to about 630.

The so-called “en bloc” motion (a whole variety of uncontroversial recommendations from Memorials Committee) was approved, 595-12.

Reference and Counsel actions were then taken up. David Gleason, SW PA, presented a motion, “That the ELCA meeting in assembly . . . request the ELCA’s Conference of Synodical Bishops to enter into discussion and consideration of the matter of accountability of bishops to the adopted policies, practices and procedures of the ELCA, and to formulate a clear statement of such accountability for the consideration and adoption of the 2009 assembly of this church.” Bishop Hanson ruled the motion in order, because it is germane to matters before the Assembly. This motion was something of a bombshell. Pr. Gleason expressed his concern of what happens when bishops of the church negate decisions taken by previous assemblies. It would help to clarify where the lines of accountability lie for our bishops. A member from New York moved the previous question. There were some questions asked, but Bp. Hanson ruled them out of order because there was a motion to end debate. Motion to close debate was approved 434-174. Motion adopted by a vote 318-309—making this the closest vote at the Assembly.

Now at last to Reference and Counsel. The motion on funding for HIV, moved to refer to Council. Paul Stumme-Diers, the original maker of the motion, felt compelled to say this was OK with him, and then to give a commercial for a consultation coming up. Motion approved. Motion on budget surplus for campus ministry, recommended to refer to Church Council. Jason Day, Delaware/Maryland, did the same thing that Bp. Stumme-Diers did. I missed his usual motion to close debate. Another campus pastor, Christopher Berry, gave another commercial for Lutheran Campus Ministry. Don’t these people know the clock is running out? Motion approved by a favorable vote of 96%. I’m sure those two speeches made the difference. Motion regarding Green Assemblies, moved to refer to office of the Secretary. Speaking (oh, come on), the maker of the original motion again thought this was, well, if not dandy, adequate, and needed to make another speech about it. After a motion to close debate (we’re down to fewer than 550 votes), the motion to refer was approved. Jim Goldsmith, Sierra Pacific raised question of quorum (you go Jim!). Bishop ruled there was still a quorum, because the quorum refers to the number registered, not the number voting. Reference and Council presented a bunch of resolutions en bloc in the form of a prayer of thanksgiving (these were largely courtesies, thanking everyone from Bp. Hanson to bus drivers for their good work). The Assembly responded “Thanks be to God,” which I guess qualified as a unanimous vote. The bishop then thanked a bunch more people, and the Assembly wound down to an end. Bishop Hanson asked members to turn to one another and share what they will say when someone asks them, “What happened there?” “What will be your first response?” “I will tell the story of an assembly that was centered in the Word of God. . . as we called this church to a profound commitment to living in that Word and letting that Word live in us. . . A church that takes seriously both the gift of unity and gift of diversity.”

Vern:
A  couple comments Richard.
1. A member of the Minneapolis delegation had a flight out at 10:00am on Saturday. He was immediately replaced by a gay person from Central Lutheran.

2. Some of the Minneapolis delegates decided that they couldn't make it at the last minute, and were replaced by appointees.

3. The CWA enhanced the communion arrangement with the Morovian Church, but refuses to even talk to the LCMC.

Ahh yes, we have quite a group leading us.


Vern

Charles_Austin:
Vern writes:
A  couple comments Richard.
1. A member of the Minneapolis delegation had a flight out at 10:00am on Saturday. He was immediately replaced by a gay person from Central Lutheran.

I ask:
Can this be verified? Or is it rumor, gossip or hearsay?

Vern:
2. Some of the Minneapolis delegates decided that they couldn't make it at the last minute, and were replaced by appointees.
I comment:
This is, I believe, allowed.

Vern:
3. The CWA enhanced the communion arrangement with the Morovian Church, but refuses to even talk to the LCMC.
I comment:
This came up earlier; there is no official "approach" from LCMC asking for a dialog.

Vern:
Ahh yes, we have quite a group leading us.
I comment:
Yes, I saw a lot of dedicated people who care about the church spend more than a week of their own time to do church work. We should praise God for that, not put them down.

Brian Stoffregen:

--- Quote from: Vern on August 24, 2007, 02:20:42 PM ---1. A member of the Minneapolis delegation had a flight out at 10:00am on Saturday. He was immediately replaced by a gay person from Central Lutheran.

2. Some of the Minneapolis delegates decided that they couldn't make it at the last minute, and were replaced by appointees.

3. The CWA enhanced the communion arrangement with the Morovian Church, but refuses to even talk to the LCMC.

Ahh yes, we have quite a group leading us.
--- End quote ---
I note that 1 & 2 are synod matters. I know that we elect some alternates in case someone can't attend. I am also pretty sure that when I went as a visitor, I could not be elevated to a voting member should someone from the synod leave early.

Steven Tibbetts:

--- Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 24, 2007, 04:22:16 PM ---I am also pretty sure that when I went as a visitor, I could not be elevated to a voting member should someone from the synod leave early.

--- End quote ---

It seems that one can, since it was happening at this CWA.  At one point there was an attempt to amend the Rules to allow one Synod to name as replacement Voting Members persons who were musicians for the Eucharists, but that the Secretary wasn't allowing because they were being paid, making them "employees" ineligible to be Voting Members.

At the Saturday afternoon plenary session while serving as a microphone page, the one member of the Minneapolis Area Synod delegation that I know by sight was the only person sitting within 3 consecutive center rows.  In front of him was another Synod's delegation.

spt+

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