Normally I write a little blurb on the coming gospel reading to get ready for Sunday morning. This week I want to do something a little different.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is meeting for Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee, WI (August 5-10) and the decisions being made thus far have been notable.
The ELCA is committed to being a public church. We continue to live into that vocation in a variety of ways and it is not always an easy process.
These are some of the actions of the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly thus far:
Rev. Elizabeth Eaton was elected on the first ballot to serve a second six year term as Presiding Bishop of the ELCA. She was elected Presiding Bishop in 2013 at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh, PA. I had the privilege of serving as a voting member from the New England Synod that year, and voting for her. 🙂 I have also had the honor of meeting her in person a few times, including as our first interview on the 2 Bald Pastors Podcast with Pastor Joe McGarry and with our young people at the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston, TX.
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and ELCA Church Council Members presented to the African Descent Lutheran Association a Declaration of the ELCA to people of African Descent. Rev. Lamont Wells, President of the African Descent Lutheran Association offered a response.
The Assembly vited and adopted the ELCA Social Statement: Faith Sexism and Justice: A Lutheran Call to Action.
The Assembly voted and declared the ELCA to be a Sanctuary Church Body, and members marched to an ICE detention center in Milwaukee.
The Assembly voted and adopted the World Council of Churches “Thursdays in Black” campaign against gender based violence.
The Assembly voted and adopted “A Declaration on Inter-Religious Commitment: A Policy Statement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America” with close to forty leaders from ecumenical and inter-religious partner communities on stage.
The Assembly voted and adopted a resolution to mark June 17 as a date to commemorate the Emanuel Nine – the nine people killed at Mother Emanuel Methodist Church June 17th, 2015 in Charlotte, SC. I signed the petition prior to the vote.
“Here were a few of my reasons for supporting this action:
1. I want to participate in healing deep wounds in our churches and communities. There are many wounds among us.
2. The ELCA has direct connections with both the shooter at Mother Emanuel in Charleston (who grew up in an ELCA congregation) and the victims who are not only fellow human beings but some of them also happened to be ELCA students and ministry partners.
3. The more I hear “pastor, we don’t need to do something like this” the more I think, “Yep, we really do.” The ELCA is 90+% white and that is a huge problem – both practically and theologically. We have to own the hard truth of how insular we are if things are ever going to change or improve in an age where most people look at churches with suspicion, cynicism and even disdain.
4. We can’t and won’t truly be able to speak hope to the culture until we go inward and start working on our own stuff – and we have a lot of stuff to work on around race, gun violence, mental illness, social justice, the politics of division and blame alongside how we engage challenging issues within the ELCA as a whole and in our congregations in particular.
5. At least in my mind, heart and soul – this commemoration day feels like the right thing to do.
Will having a day set aside to repent and remember fix it all? Of course not. But simply plodding on doesn’t seem to be working either – the violence of the past week around the country makes that clear.
There is of course much much more to do than this – but we can at least start with the Emanuel Nine.
If you’re an ELCA person, I invite you to join me in signing this petition. We can do a lot better. This is but one small step among many more steps we can all take together to be church.” – Geoff Sinibaldo, Facebook, August 8, 2019
More to come.
I invite you to continue to pray for the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee, WI and for our voting members from the New England Synod.
Sunday is indeed coming.