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    Always Being Made New

    Third ballot results for ELCA secretary

    Posted on August 16, 2013 by assemblynews

    Third ballot results are as follows :

    + Cheryl Stuart, vice president for the ELCA Florida-Bahamas Synod: 214 votes

    + Matthew Riegel, campus pastor, Lutheran Campus Ministry at West Virginia University: 57 votes

    + Mark Grorud, senior pastor, Saint Michael Lutheran Church, Omaha, Neb.:132 votes

    + Kathryn Gerking, interim senior pastor, St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Urbandale, Iowa: 39 votes

    + Michael Cooper-White, president, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg: 160 votes

    + Willim Chris Boerger, currently on leave from call: 201 votes

    + Peter Aldrich, manager, Grinnell Singers, Grinnell College: 86 votes

    889 votes were cast; 593 votes (two-thirds) were needed for an election. Moving forward is Cheryl Stuart, William Chris Boerger and Michael Cooper-White.

    Chair of Conference of Bishops addresses 2013 Churchwide Assembly

    Posted on August 16, 2013 by assemblynews

    The Rev. Jessica Crist, bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod and chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops, presented the Conference of Bishops report to the 2013 Churchwide Assembly Aug. 16.  The conference is an advisory body of this church that includes the 65 synod bishops, the presiding bishop and secretary.

    Crist told the assembly the conference brings together the 65 synods like no other church body. She said although the make-up of the conference is predominately “male, straight and Anglo, we carry the breadth and depth of this church. Collectively we have our pulse on the people of the ELCA.”

    Crist said although the bishops come from different lives and bring different strengths to the group, “we learn from each other and challenge each other.” 

    She reminded the assembly that not one of the bishops resigned after the decision of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly to adopt the social statement on human sexuality.

    Crist said the conference “embodies interdependence,” leading the synods by daily interaction with congregations and leaders of this church in order to “do God’s work with our hands.”

    Nominee forum for ELCA secretary now underway

    Posted on August 16, 2013 by assemblynews

    There are seven nominees for ELCA secretary now addressing the 952 voting members of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly. They are:

    + Cheryl Stuart, vice president for the ELCA Florida-Bahamas Synod

    + Matthew Riegel, campus pastor, Lutheran Campus Ministry at West Virginia University

    + Mark Grorud, senior pastor, Saint Michael Lutheran Church, Omaha, Neb.

    + Kathryn Gerking, interim senior pastor, St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Urbandale, Iowa

    + Michael Cooper-White, president, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg

    + Willim Chris Boerger, currently on leave from call

    + Peter Aldrich, manager, Grinnell Singers, Grinnell College

    You can watch and listen to their responses to questions live at www.elca.org/livevideo.

    ELCA Secretary delivers final report to 2013 Churchwide Assembly

    Posted on August 15, 2013 by assemblynews

    SwartlingELCA Secretary David Swartling delivered his last report as secretary to the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly Aug. 15.  The 952 voting members of the assembly are meeting in Pittsburgh Aug. 12-17 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The assembly is the highest legislative body of this church. Swartling, an attorney from Seattle, announced last fall that he would not seek another term as secretary. One of the key actions of the 2013 assembly is the election for ELCA Secretary.

     Swartling said the theme for the assembly, “Always being made new” had been a source of reflection for him during the past several years.  He told the assembly “three profound truths are revealed” when he considers the meaning of these 4 words. The first truth comes from knowing something about the old in order to become new. “I believe that we both need to recognize the new reality that we are becoming and understand the basics about what makes us who we are.” The second truth, Swartling notes are in the words “being made” which he says indicate “a process begun, but not yet complete.”  The third truth is the realization that “you often –perhaps always – don’t know in advance what the new looks like.” 

     “So, you and I, and this church aren’t finished being made new, we’re in the process of being made something new, but the new is not yet fully revealed,” he said.

    Swartling said that in this “newness” the church “must be grounded in the basics, the 3R’s that are the foundational elements of the ELCA.”

    “We are a church of the resurrection.  We are rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, his life, death, and resurrection,” Swartling said. “We also are a church of the reformation. And the reformation is not only an historical event; it is a process, an ongoing process…We are a church of reconciliation.  As our text for this assembly teaches us, by being made new through Christ we are entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. The work of the ELCA and the word of hope that we can bring to the world is grounded in being a people of the resurrection, a people of the reformation, and a people of reconciliation.”

    In his report, Swartling highlighted the work of the LIFT task force, “Living into the Future Together: Renewing the Ecology of the ELCA” providing examples of how the work reflects a church “always being made new.” The LIFT task force was formed to answer questions about the future identity of this church. Aspects of the task force include renewing congregations, strengthening synods, re-thinking theological education for rostered and lay leaders, raising up and supporting diverse, multi-cultural leaders, enhancing relationships with global, ecumenical and inter-faith partners. Swartling highlighted some of the recommendations of the LIFT task force as they relate to the Office of Secretary:

    + The 2011 Churchwide Assembly adopted a triennial cycle for future assemblies which will facilitate more thoughtful preparation for and implementation of churchwide assembly actions and will encourage non-legislative gatherings to take place. The next churchwide assembly is scheduled for 2016.

    + The role of the Conference of Bishops has been strengthened and its relationship to the Church Council clarified in the governing documents of this church.

    + An expanded ELCA Church Council, strengthened by additional representation based on demographics and expertise.

    +The implementation of the commitment to include youth and young adults as participants in the governance of the church.

    +Concrete steps to strengthen and grow relationships with ecumenical partners, as evidenced by the proposal to include full communion partners as members of the boards of trustees of separately incorporated ministries, a proposal acted upon at the 2013 assembly. 

     “This is important work,” Swartling said.  “We cannot let the LIFT report gather dust on the shelf as we address the immediacy of other issues – the work of LIFT needs to viewed as an ongoing process to inform this church as it seeks the new that God is calling us to become,” he said.

     Swartling also recalled “both the turmoil and complexity of the discussion and debate” about the ELCA social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust which was adopted by the ELCA 2009 Churchwide Assembly.

    “While those were difficult times for this church, I give thanks for the leadership of the Conference of Bishops and the Church Council, both in their commitment to implement the changes called for the Churchwide Assembly and their sensitivity in recognizing that ELCA Lutherans with conviction and integrity hold differing views,” said Swartling. He noted that memorials presented to the 2013 Churchwide Assembly for approval “call upon individuals and congregations to engage in conversations about how to faithfully support all families consistent with our commitment to non-discrimination, yet recognizing that not everyone in this church shares the same views,” said Swartling.

    In closing, Swartling thanked his colleagues at the ELCA churchwide organization, the members of the ELCA Conference of Bishops, the ELCA Church Council, and the synod vice presidents.

    Swartling offered a special “word of profound thanks and appreciation” to Presiding Bishop Hanson.  “As you know, I quote you often on the road – and I want to one more time. You remind us of the importance of an ‘evangelical missional imagination,’ and the need to hold in tension the ‘navigation and agitation’ aspects of leadership.  What great truths and ongoing lessons for all of leaders in this church.  Thanks for your collegiality, wisdom, and friendship,” he said.

     “You see, the ELCA is not an either or church. In an era of increasing polarization, we declare that the ELCA is a ‘both (slash) and church’, keeping in tension competing principles, competing ideas, competing points of view,” said Swartling. “We can say with courage, with confidence, and with credibility that this is God’s church and there is a place in this church for you and me – red state, blue state, conservative, liberal, single, married, partnered, we welcome you all.  We welcome you all because we are called to be a church that is a catalyst, a convener, a bridge builder.  We are called to be a ‘both (slash) and church’ in an either or world,” Swartling said.

     

    ELCA Presiding Bishop delivers report to 2013 Churchwide Assembly

    Posted on August 15, 2013 by assemblynews

    The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, delivered his report to the 2013 Churchwide Assembly Aug. 15.  He asked the assembly to consider the book of Acts and what new chapters might say. “What will those chapters tell of what the Holy Spirit is doing among and with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America?”

    Hanson said, “This is what I pray will be written when the Holy Spirit is adding new chapters to the book of Acts: ‘The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 4 million baptized believers in Jesus Christ, was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.’ It is more than the prayful longing of a Bishop’s heart. It’s Jesus’ promise.”

    Hanson spoke of the past 12 years as presiding bishop saying, “Over the past 12 years, I have been so blessed to witness the Spirit’s power at work throughout this church and among our global partners.” He recalled witnessing the presence and power of the Holy Spirit during natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma, during the ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans in 2012 and during his travels to visit global partner churches. “I saw the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of the people of Burure (Zimbabwe). They were proclaiming Christ and praising God in worship. In partnership with the ELCA, they are confronting malaria through education, intervention, treatment and sustainability planning. You are a part of the Holy Spirit’s work there through the ELCA World Hunger and the ELCA Malaria campaign. Thank you,” Hanson said.

    ELCA Vice President Carlos Pena presented Hanson with the Servus Dei medal. This medal honors officers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America at the completion of their terms and continues a tradition that was begun in the predecessor church bodies. The Servus Dei Medal was presented to Presiding Bishop Hanson in recognition of his leadership within this church and in thankfulness for his twelve years of service as presiding bishop.

    Eaton elected ELCA presiding bishop

    Posted on August 14, 2013 by assemblynews

    IMG_4473The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod, has been elected ELCA presiding bishop. 889 votes were cast; 445 were needed for election. Eaton received 600 and the Rev. Mark Hanson received 287.

    Results for fourth ballot announced for ELCA presiding bishop election

    Posted on August 14, 2013 by assemblynews

    Results for the fourth ballot were announced. 907 votes were cast; 60 percent is needed for an election (that is 545 votes). The results are as follows:

    + The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton: 523

    + ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson: 300

    + The Rev. Jessica Crist: 84

    A fifth and final ballot will be conducted during this plenary.

    Fourth ballot for ELCA presiding bishop now underway

    Posted on August 14, 2013 by assemblynews

    The fourth ballot for ELCA presiding bishop is now underway. The nominees are:

    + The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod

    + ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson

    + The Rev. Jessica Crist, bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod and chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops

    Prior to casting their vote on the fourth ballot for ELCA presiding bishop, the voting members defeated a motion to suspend the rules to allow a 10-minute time for discernment.

    Responses from nominees for ELCA presiding bishop available

    Posted on August 14, 2013 by assemblynews

    To view and/or hear the responses from the nominees for ELCA presiding bishop, please visit www.elca.org/livevideo. Sessions are being recorded and posted on this site.

    Assembly passes two memorials – one on immigration reform, other on Holy Communion

    Posted on August 14, 2013 by assemblynews

    The 952 voting members of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly approved a proposal designed to invite the 4-million-member church, its nearly 10,000 congregations, 65 synods and churchwide organization into conversation and study regarding the Use of the Means of Grace – a statement on the practice of Word and Sacrament. The assembly called on the Congregational and Synodical Mission Unit of ELCA churchwide ministries, in consultation with the ELCA Office of the Presiding Bishop and the Conference of Bishops, to establish a process to review current documents concerning administration of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. The assembly also requested that the unit provide a report and possible recommendations to the ELCA Church Council in April 2014.

    Separately, voting members approved a memorial that would call ELCA members to advocate for the adoption of comprehensive immigration reform consistent with an ELCA message on immigration and guidance from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services based in Baltimore.

    ELCA members call for legislation that would provide an earned pathway to lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants and their families; ensure the humane and just enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, specifically by reducing the use of immigration detention and expanding the use of community support programs for immigrants who do not need to be detained; protect families from separation; provide resources and protections to ensure the successful integration of refugees, asylees, survivors of torture and trafficking, unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable migrants; and to ensure the protection of U.S. citizens and migrant workers. Legislation should provide a reasonable path to citizenship for undocumented individuals currently living and working in the United States.

    The memorial also asks that rostered leaders of this church promote an understanding of immigration issues in their preaching and teaching that would welcome and promote concern for the vulnerable, and to call “believers to foster the highest possible level of moral discourse in church and society. Congregations are called to engage in prayer and reasoned discussion and education on issues related to immigration; to communicate with U.S. elected officials to develop and pass such comprehensive immigration reform legislation in the current session and to call on the ELCA presiding bishop of this church to continue to communicate to members of Congress the ELCA’s position on immigration reform.

    Voting members also voted to declare Sunday, June 22, 2014 as Refugee Sunday.

    Memorials are proposals  from the ELCA’s 65 synods.