Author Topic: Plenary 7 Friday morning  (Read 760 times)

Richard Johnson

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Plenary 7 Friday morning
« on: August 12, 2022, 12:05:24 PM »
The plenary this morning is scheduled for 2 hours. I'll stick around while the business is being done--memorials committee, reference and counsel, unfinished business. But then we get to all boring closing matters (honoring outgoing bishops, recognizing church council, etc.) and I doubt I'll stick around for that. Just saying.

VP Pena is in the chair because Bp. Eaton has tested positive for COVID. Memorials committee is up first, with the chair now wearing a mask (which may be a bit like closing the barn door after the horse has left). They are taking up again the on leave from call resolution, the amendment to add a number of specifics about what the proposed task force should discuss (including an appeal process and time limits for on leave from call). The amendment has apparently been judged to be a substitute, so that changes the procedure a bit. This confuses the house, because the chair has now asked for amendments to the original motion. But now the person who proposed the substitute says she didn't intend it as a substitute but as an amendment (but when she read it, she read the whole dang thing, including the boilerplate about thanking the synods for submitting the memorials).  The chair, in consultation with the parliamentarian, rules that because of the volume of the change, it needs to be treated as a substitute.

Motion is made to amend by adding the words "healing from abuse" to the list of examples of reasons why people have been placed on leave from call. Sort of a frivolous amendment since this is simply a list of examples, and they really don't have time for this. But the amendment is quickly approved.

Now amendments to the proposed substitute, which first the committee chair reads. A motion is made to add the same words about healing from abuse. The chair asks unanimous consent to do so, and the words are added. A clergy member asks for a moment or two to reflect on the two options "since we've just been given the new language." There is great confusion. One speaker notes that since most pastors in the church will at some point be on leave from call, we need to review the process. The chair tries to pull them back to the "we're only working on amendments right now." Somebody makes what is apparently another amendment, but it seems just to add some other category of people "mission developers) in there somewhere as people who should be consulted in this process. It's approved, so now that language is in the substitute, though not the original. A bishop wants to replace language of appealing to another synod with another "judicatory"' because he doesn't like the idea of a bishop being asked to second guess the actions of a colleague bishop. Not clear what he means by "judicatory" but he seems to understand it as some entity like the churchwide Committee on Discipline. This is a pretty significant change which deserves debate, which it isn't getting; but then it's again just a suggestion of what might be discussed. The vote is 601 to 93. The previous question is moved, though in this situation it isn't clear to the assembly (or to me) just what that means. The chair seems to think it just means no more amendments on the substitute. At any rate, it is approved. "So now we move on to general discussion." But after one speech, someone moves the previous question, and it is approved. 

Credentials report. Still 829 voting members. Vote will be on whether substitute motion will take the place of the original motion. Vote is to substitute (didn't catch the numbers, but it was about two to one, I believe). There being no more debate on the motion as substituted, the chair calls for prayer (and this pray-er actually prays spontaneously and appropriately). The motion is approved, 642-76.

Now a memorial on greenhouse gas reduction. The Memorials proposal:
To reaffirm the commitment of this church to engage in creation care and advocacy based on the principles of sufficiency, sustainability, participation, and solidarity;
To reaffirm the commitment of this church to advocacy and action in support of 50% reduction from 2005 levels in United States economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050;
To urge the churchwide organization to continue its network ministry through the Creation Care Network to inform and guide this church in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
To encourage congregants, rostered ministers, and bishops to commit themselves to education about the urgency of the climate emergency, the global opportunities of a just transition and to lift up loving our neighbor in response to the climate emergency through their preaching;
To affirm the Mission Investments Fund’s “Green Building” initiative and resources, and to encourage continued commitment to supporting ministries in caring for creation and addressing climate change;
To refer to the Service and Justice home area, Office of the Treasurer, Office of the Secretary, and Office of the Presiding Bishop, for implementation consistent with the memorials; and
To request the churchwide organization provide a report to the 2025 Churchwide Assembly assessing the progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions across all three expressions and sharing lessons learned to help meet reduction goals.

There is an amendment which would ask that the ELCA commit itself to the same goals in achieving net zero emissions as we are proposing for advocacy.  Three speakers in favor, and the amendment is approved.  Again I missed the total, but about two-thirds. (Frustrating that they only project total for two or three seconds, and the chair does not read the totals, so if I'm typing at the moment, I miss it.) On the motion as amended, the vote is 672 to 45.

Final memorial. The original memorial:
RESOLVED, that the Northwest Washington Synod Assembly direct the 2022 Churchwide Assembly to empower the ELCA Church Council to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Constitutions, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the ELCA, and related governance documents, examining how this church’s three expressions work collaboratively; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the comprehensive audit examine unintentional gaps in checks and balances, particularly with regard to the autonomy of synod bishops; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the ELCA Church Council engage a third-party auditor specializing in diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility to interrogate the Constitutions, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions, and related governance documents; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the ELCA Church Council model transparent leadership practices by sharing the results of the audit in a public statement to the ELCA.

The memorial committee recommendation:
To authorize the Church Council to determine the parameters and the expense budget of this process and identify the revenue source(s) to provide for this audit;
To direct the Church Council to engage an external auditor to conduct a comprehensive audit for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility of the Constitutions, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the ELCA and related governance documents and present a report of the findings by the Fall 2023 Church Council meeting;
To direct the Church Council to release the findings of the audit to this church; and
To direct the Legal and Constitutional Review Committee to use the findings of this audit to recommend changes to the governing documents to the 2025 Churchwide Assembly.

A lay member makes an incomprehensible statement which throws the assembly into a parliamentary confusion. It appears that whatever is happening, this is being treated as a motion to refer to the Church Council. The speaker then argues that this duplicates the work asked by the memorial on reconstitution, and it is more appropriate to send this to the Church Council to sort out how to best address the concerns of the memorial in light of the other decision. Apparently the entire original Memorials recommendation has been abandoned and this is now a simple motion to refer, but the motion is lost 313-395.  So now the "original motion" is the Memorial Committee's recommendation. This is approved, 538-175.

Chair of Ref & Counsel now comes with a resolution for the Church Council to appoint a task force to explore and analyze processes of nomination and election for synods and churchwide organization. Approved 600-39.

Now we're up to the courtesies, thanks to everybody etc. Acknowledgement of synod bishops. Acknowledgement and thanks to bishops who have retired or resigned since the last CWA. He includes Megan Rohrer. Then acknowledges and thanks bishops whose terms will end soon. Then he introduces and thanks recently elected bishops. Then outgoing Church Council members. Announcement that 2025 CWA will be held in Phoenix. (Have they ever been there in August?) Now the order for closing of the assembly, and it is finished.

The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

James S. Rustad

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Re: Plenary 7 Friday morning
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2022, 02:12:19 PM »
I have been in Phoenix in August.  It's hot.  It's also not the "dry heat" everyone expects.  The locals call it "monsoon season".  I think any organization going there then must get a really good rate.

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Plenary 7 Friday morning
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2022, 02:21:06 PM »

VP Pena is in the chair because Bp. Eaton has tested positive for COVID.

In spite of the hubris that by adopting 2020-2021 style pandemic "precautions" paranoia they could "keep everyone safe".
« Last Edit: August 12, 2022, 04:43:23 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
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Charles Austin

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Re: Plenary 7 Friday morning
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2022, 06:29:17 PM »
It is not hubris, it is simply inept language. (Unless, of course, you are looking for reasons to be snarky.) The statement should’ve read “in an attempt” to keep everyone safe. The “attempt“ was implied. Should’ve been said.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Trying not to respond to illicit, anonymous posters or to those with spooky obsessions. Preaching the gospel, teaching, baptizing, marrying, burying, helping parishes for 60+ years.