We are church
That’s the theme under which 16 voting members (elected at our 2018 assembly) and about a thousand other folks from the other 64 synods of the ELCA gather for the Churchwide Assembly. What’s that about, you say? Well, it happens only once every three years, and it is the highest decision-making body of this church. It’s happening NOW as this e-news edition is published as we gather August 5-10 in Milwaukee. It has a lot in common with other business/political meetings, but at its core it is communal spiritual discernment.
Specifically, the Assembly will:
- Hear reports and review the work of churchwide officers, leaders and units
- Receive and consider proposals from synod assemblies
- Elect officers, board members and other leaders as specified by the constitution or bylaws
- Establish ELCA churchwide policy
- Worship together, including Holy Communion and Bible study daily
- Adopt a budget based on mission priorities and projections of mission support from the synods
- Conduct other business related to the ELCA churchwide organization.
Of particular note this year will be elections. The ELCA Presiding Bishop, Secretary, and Vice President all serve terms for six years, as do synodical bishops. The process will be ecclesiastical; i.e., the first ballot is a blank sheet of paper. The current ELCA VP, Bill Horne from Florida, was elected in 2016 and thus has three more years, but ELCA Secretary Chris Boerger will be retiring and not available for re-election. We will have a new secretary this fall. Presiding Bishop Eaton has indicated her availability for election to another term, but one never knows. Six years ago Bishop Hanson was available for re-election, but Bishop Eaton was elected instead. We’ll also be electing persons for the ELCA Church Council and the churchwide boards and committees.
Other items of note are our voting on numerous memorials and resolutions that come to us from synod councils and synod assemblies, a vote on changing the entrance rite for deacons in this church from “consecration” to “ordination,” and the proposed Social Statement on “Faith, Sexism, and Justice.” Memorials cover a broad range of topics in our culture, from Refugees and Immigration to Gender Identity to Israel and Palestine to the 50th anniversary (2020) of the ordination of Women in the ELCA and more.
Synod vice presidents (Diana Haywood in NC) and bishops(I in NC) automatically serve as voting members to the Churchwide Assembly. The others from NC you elected at the 2018 NC Synod Assembly are pastors: Adrienne Martin, David Keck, Diane Cline, Greg Williams, Jennifer Shimota (formerly Krushas); and lay voting members: Hunter Haith, Jennifer Miller, Joshua Copeland, Kai Thurow, Mindy Makant, Susan Harris, Sylvia Black, and Warren Keyes. Pray for all of us as we gather not so much as a collection of individual opinions, affiliations, perspective, affinities, etc. but as Church. Pray for our spiritual discernment and guidance.
Walking with you,
Bishop Tim Smith