Plenary 1 Monday morning

Started by Richard Johnson, August 09, 2022, 08:39:41 AM

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Richard Johnson

The disadvantage of covering the assembly from home is that just when the session is opening, the guys come to install the new garage door. Nonetheless, the assembly business has begun. The tech people apparently read my critique last night, because the music for the opening hymn is being shown on the screen. At least until they switch to the organist's hands. The assembly is declared to be in session in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Bp. Eaton offers opening remarks based on the assembly's theme, "Embody the Word." She reflects briefly on the 35th anniversary of the ELCA. She notes that this afternoon there will be a non-legislative public apology to Iglesia Santa MarĂ­a Peregrina (the Sierra Pacific Synod congregation that was poorly treated by the previous bishop) and a commitment to anti-racism. She outlines the COVID precautions being taken in the assembly (round tables, to keep distance between people a bit greater; everyone must wear a mask in all sessions unless speaking at the mic; each participant must take a self-administered COVID test each morning). She waves at those of us watching at home.

The opening session, of course, always contains lots of instructions, especially in this technological age. Everyone needs iPad instructions, directions to the prayer room, etc.

Bp. Eaton recognizes early leaders of the church. First, Bp. Herb Chilstrom (who died a couple of years ago). "We remember him with thanksgiving in a moment of silence." Several former officers able to be here this week: Lowell Almen, David Swartling, Chris Boeger, Addie Butler, Carlos Pena. Mark Hanson and Christina Jackson-Skelton will be arriving later.

Greetings from bishop of Southern Ohio Synod Suzanne Darcy Dillahunt. "Welcome back to where our story as the ELCA began."

Who knew installing a new garage door would be so noisy?

Bp. Dillahunt is going on longer than necessary, talking about the wonders of Ohio and the Southern Ohio Synod. The most interesting bits of information: (1) Ohio is the home of the voice of Bart Simpson. (2) Ohio has lots of craft breweries, one of which is located right across from the convention center and is offering a special brew called "Saints and Sinners," made just for the churchwide assembly.

Credentials report: up to 902 voting members. As of 8:07, there are 800 voting members registered. Introduction of parliamentarian, whose many parliamentary credentials are recited.

Now the usual fun and games, instructing people how to use the voting machines. Is this your first CWA? Yes 474, no 267. (Big surprise)  At the constituting convention, were members seated in alphabetical order? Yes 396, no 329 (which is in fact correct). How many ballots required to elect first PB--5, 7, or 9? Didn't get the results, but the right answer was 9. Several other test questions not about constituting convention. After that strenuous work, a stretch break and hymn. (No words this time; probably just as well, as I think she said the hymn was something called "Commonwealth is God's Commandment." Wouldn't be able to sing that one in the car.

After a lengthy explanation of the Rules of Order, the secretary (Sue Rothmeyer) moves adoption. A question is asked, and then the Rules are adopted with only 8 negative votes.

The secretary moves the adoption of the order of business. There is a motion to eliminate several planned videos and extend time of several plenaries, with additional time added to discussion of memorials and/or reference and counsel. She notes that this would add about an hour and a half to each of these categories. "We have limited time, and while we are grateful for the work of our mission and ministry partners, it is important that we have time for the work we are here to do." A deacon speaks against because of the importance of these various ministries to the ELCA. "These reports are extremely important for us to hear." Several speakers, more in favor. Bp. Riegel moves to amend by reinstating all the breaks and eliminating the extended times. "Dr. Maslow taught us that if we can't address lower level needs, we can never self-actualize."

(So far the "preferred pronouns" of speakers has been projected, along with their name. This at least seems to obviate the need for them to tell us. I'm wondering what happens if a member neglected to identify his/her/their/its preferred pronoun.)

There's some issue with Riegel's wording, so he is consulting with the secretary and assembly gets to sing an unknown song. So far the main motion has consumed about a sixth of the time the proposer demanded that the assembly reallocate to memorials.

Now more talking. One person insists that videos can be watched any time. A disabled member insists that plenty of time needs to allowed for breaks. Finally someone moves the previous question, which is approved. The parliamentarian hands the bishop a paper, she looks puzzled, they confer. The bishop asks whether the motion to call the question was just on the amendment, or on all matters (which she really shouldn't have done, IMO; he clearly called the question only on the Riegel amendment, and she shouldn't give him a chance to change his mind). But he doesn't change his mind, and the vote on the Riegel amendment passes, very narrowly (399 to 386). So now the discussion is just on eliminating all the videos, which would add about 90 minutes to discuss memorials (more than 30 minutes of which has already been consumed in this silly discussion). Previous question is moved and passed. There's some confusion about just what's being voted on, because what's on the screen is still the original wording (with Riegel's deletions in red). Bp. Eaton clarifies. The original motion, to eliminate the videos, is approved, 583-206. The agenda as amended (by eliminating the videos) is adopted, 656-110. Bp. declares a 10 minute recess.

I wonder how much money was spent on all those videos which will now not be shown to the CWA?

After recess, the children come back and hear a representative of ELCA military chaplains. Then a video memorializing the late William Horne, ELCA VP, who died last year. (Wisely, the earlier motion didn't exclude this video.) This leads into the first ballot for Vice President. There was a pre-assembly process that allowed voting members to suggest names for this lay position, and the result was a list of 13 persons who were both suggested and who agreed to be considered. It begins with an ecclesiastical ballot, though, so these names are really on "suggestions" (though almost certainly the ultimately elected person will come from that list). I only know one of the people on the list, but here's the rundown:

Kevin Anderson, an attorney who is on the ELCA Church Council
Paul Archer, a medical dosimetrist who was formerly on the ELCA Church Council
John Auger, an engineer who is VP of Delaware-Maryland Synod
Tracey A. Beasley, a tax manager who is on the ELCA Church Council
Carla Borchardt, a nurse who is VP of the South Dakota Synod
Roberto Lara Aranda, director of communication for Metro NY Synod
David M. Lenz, an attorney currently on ELCA Church Council
Thomas E. Madden, an engineer currently VP of Upstate NY Synod
Roger Ruggles, engineering professor with no apparent synodical or churchwide experience but on local congregation council
Imran Siddiqui, investigator for Dept of Labor and VP of Southeastern Synod
Clarance Smith, bank manager and former member of ELCA Church Council
James St. Vincent, insurance exec., SE Wisconsin Synod synod council member
Christopher Vergara, dance costume designer, board of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries

Lots of time consumed explaining the process, concluding with credential report that there are currently 804 voting members registered. 60 lay, 40 clergy; 20 percent POC, 15% youth/young adults. There is a hymn and prayer, and the vote is taken. They are actually using the voting devices for this, which seems to be a dicey thing. At any rate, if all goes well, results will be announced at the opening of the 1:30 plenary.

I think it is fascinating that, on the forms each of these folks filled out, most of them gave their answers in a page and a half or less. But the professor and the communication director both took two and a half pages.

The plenary is extended fifteen minutes to allow for presentation from chair of the nominating committee, who explains the very convoluted process by which its committee has presented nominations. After announcements, the assembly adjourns until 1:30.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Wayne Kofink

Quote from: Richard Johnson on August 09, 2022, 08:39:41 AM
The bishop asks whether the motion to call the question was just on the amendment, or on all matters (which she really shouldn't have done, IMO; he clearly called the question only on the Riegel amendment, and she shouldn't give him a chance to change his mind). But he doesn't change his mind, and the vote on the Riegel amendment passes, very narrowly (399 to 386).

Right you are. As a matter of fact the Assembly's own Rules of Organization and Procedure prohibit a motion to move the previous question of all matters. It can only apply to the immediately pending motion. It helps if someone actually reads the rules that the assembly adopts.

Thanks for the excellent commentary.

Dave Benke

20% POC is in my opinion a very high percentage. 

LCMS national conventions are bigger in number - 1200 and have never come anywhere close to 20% POC.  The other under-representation at LCMS conventions is women. 

That being said, there must be an internal goal in the ELCA to produce that percentage, because the overall ELCA percentage is around the same as the LCMS - 5% POC. 

I'm also not sure but that the voting delegations in the LCMS are 50/50 on the lay/clergy metric, because circuits select one clergy and one lay person to vote for them.  Don't know how anyone else gets to vote.  I may sign up for a votante selection for the next LCMS convention, which is in my hometown next summer.  Beer, brats, cheese curds, true nutrition.

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

Richard Johnson

Quote from: Dave Benke on August 09, 2022, 12:32:08 PM
20% POC is in my opinion a very high percentage. 

LCMS national conventions are bigger in number - 1200 and have never come anywhere close to 20% POC.  The other under-representation at LCMS conventions is women. 

That being said, there must be an internal goal in the ELCA to produce that percentage, because the overall ELCA percentage is around the same as the LCMS - 5% POC. 

I'm also not sure but that the voting delegations in the LCMS are 50/50 on the lay/clergy metric, because circuits select one clergy and one lay person to vote for them.  Don't know how anyone else gets to vote.  I may sign up for a votante selection for the next LCMS convention, which is in my hometown next summer.  Beer, brats, cheese curds, true nutrition.

Dave Benke

Yeah, that seems high. I may have misheard. Though it also includes persons whose language is other than English.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

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