ELCA Churchwide Assembly – Day 4 (Afternoon)

Dr. H. George Anderson, former Presiding Bishop of the ELCA received a gift of gratitude, a photo of what hangs in the Lutheran Center commemorating his leadership.

Dr. David Tiede was again the Bible Study Leader, leading out of Galatians 3, with opportunity for the Assembly members to engage in conversation with one another.

A Resolution to extend the Full Communion relationship to the Alaska province and the Eastern West Indies province of the Moravian Church in America. Both provinces have approved the agreement and await the ELCA’s action so that the geographical territory of both churches is the same. Approved 999-23.

Greetings were received from the Rev. Gary Harke, serving as Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, Rev. Harold Delhagen, Bishop Christopher Epting (Episcopal Church USA) All had been asked to talk about how our partners experience the place of scripture in the life of the church.

The Report of the Second Ballot for Secretary: In order of number of votes received …

  • Michael Cooper-White (277)
  • Andrea DeGroot-Nesdahl (227)
  • David Swartling (114)
  • Ken Ruppar (108)
  • Paul Schreck (70)
  • Glenndy Ose (57)
  • Chris Boeger (32)
  • Mark Grorud (32)

There will be a question/answer nominee forum later in this session, using the format first used in 2001 where a question is asked and the nominee replies based on a lottery, so that the questioner does not know which of the nominees will be responding.

Dr. Ishmael Noko, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, brought greetings. Rev. Deborah DeWinter brought greetings representing Dr. Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches. Clare Chapman brought greetings from the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.

The Assembly then moved into the report of the Memorials Committee, following prayer by Bishop Main. One hour allocated for these matters.
Motion:“I move to ask that the Assembly stop for one minute of silent prayer for the unity of this church, concluded by a prayer for that unity led by the chair at intervals of 20 minutes during the debate of the recommendations related to the memorials on ministry issues concerning same-sex relationships.” Amendment: “I would move to amend the motion by appending to the end that the one minute of silent prayer not be included in the debate.” Amendment Approved 737-256. Main Motion Approved 773-190.

Section E Memorials

E1: Blessing of Same-Sex Relationships

Recommendation of the Memorials Committee is to refer to the Task Force on ELCA Studies on Sexuality.

Motion: “I move that the Assembly postpone consideration of category E1 until the Assembly considers categories E2, E3 and E4.” Two speeches. Failed 544-561.

Motion: “I move to limit time on memorials to 20 minutes for each amendment on a memorial and to limit time for debate to 20 minutes on the main motion or main motion as amended.” Ruled that it applies only to E1 because of timing of the motion. Ruled not debatable, and requires 2/3 vote because it is a change in rules. (Much confusion here.) Failed 490-522.

Carol Hendricks, Lower Susquehanna Synod. Speaking as a member of the taskforce in support of the committee’s recommendation to refer. One other speech in support. Two speaking against referral, one invoking the will of the Spirit, one pointing to the number of Synods asking for change. One speaking for referral, because the Social Statement will inform the decision. Question Called. Vote to end debate. 914-123, Debate closed. Motion Approved (Refer to Task Force) 733-278. Question about malfunctioning voting machines. A row of them. The chair ruled that their votes would not change the outcome. Unanimous Consent to declare the recommendation adopted given the spread of the vote. Granted.

Prayer time and repair time for the malfunctioning voting devices.

Motion: “I move that we remove all issues relating to sexuality off of this Assembly’s agenda.” Ruled out of order at the time.

E2: Standards for Rostered Leaders

Recommendation of the Memorials Committee is to refer to the Task Force on ELCA Studies on Sexuality.

Motion: “I move that we not consider this topic at this Assembly.” Requires 2/3 vote. Voted 753-280 to continue to consider and debate E2.

Substitute Motion: Paul Stumme-Diers, bishop of the greater Milwaukee Synod, I
move to substitute for the recommendation of the Memorials Committee standard E2 standards for rostered leaders.

Resolved that the 2007 Churchwide Assembly direct the committee on appeals to develop an amendment to the document known as “definitions and guidelines” that removes provisions precluding practicing homosexual persons from the rosters of this
church.

And be it further resolved that this Churchwide Assembly direct the vocation and education unit in consultation with the conference of bishops, to develop an amendment to the document known as “vision and expectations” that removes provisions requiring persons who are homosexual in their self-understanding to abstain from homosexual sexual relationships and be it further resolved that this Churchwide Assembly direct the vocation and education unit, in consultation with the conference of bishops, to develop an amendment to the policies on reinstatement to the rosters of this church that permits the reinstatement without the usual requirement of five consecutive years without call of persons who have resigned or been removed from the rosters solely because they are in a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship,

and be it finally resolved that this Churchwide Assembly direct Church Council to say the actions necessary to amend definitions and guidelines, vision and expectations, and the policies on reinstatement to the rosters of this church in conformity with the amendments developed pursuant to the preceding directions by the committee on appeals and
vocation and education unit.

Motion: I move to amend the substitute by inserting after the second resolved paragraph the following paragraph, which is adapted from the memorial passed by the New Jersey Synod.

“resolved that this Churchwide Assembly direct the vocation and education unit in consultation with the conference of bishops to develop an amendment to the documents known as vision and expectations, that inserts this provision: Ministers in the same gender partnership are expected to uphold the same standards as all ministers, namely, to live in fidelity to their partner within a relationship that is mutual, chaste and faithful.
And be it further”

Questions then about perfecting the main motion first, and about the vote levels (50% or 2/3 necessary for these actions.) Bishop Hanson’s answer is majority because they are not changing governing documents.

Debate then on the amendment to the substitute motion since no one desires to amend the main motion. No debate on the amendment. Amendment to the substitute motion passed 739-268.

Speaker: “Donald McCoid, Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod. Member of the conference of bishops and the chair of its theology and ethics concern committee. Among the conference of bishops, we certainly are not of one mind, but we were able to issue a statement which is quoted in much of the material by the Memorials Committee that this church is engaged in the careful study of issues related to human sexuality with the intention of adopting a social statement to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly. We urge the members of this church to engage fully and faithfully in the study process as part of our living together faithfully during this time.” This church did make a decision to develop a social statement on human sexuality at our 2001 church Assembly. Social statement guides and informs our life and decisions. fter study, deliberation hearings inputs provide a foundation based upon Biblical, confessional, contextual understanding. his is an important time, a thoughtful time, a prayerful time, a discerning time for engagement as we study this important issue in our policies and practices, as well. Decisions on policy and practices are informed by our social statements. Echoing the conference of bishops’ statement, we should keep the course, adopt a social statement and then consider the changes to policies and practices. An action to change now would circumvent the study and does not — it does make a decision on policy before a holistic statement on human sexuality could take place. I wish we did have a social statement at this Assembly, but we do not. This has not a way to delay. It is to be faithful to our understanding and commitments to be the church that works out of a social statement in making its decisions.

Speaker: Anna Lindquist, Southwestern Synod of Wisconsin. Speaking in favor of the substitution. Because this is an issue that’s been of increasing importance to me as I grow in my faith and it’s one that’s clearly important to many people. You’ve heard the number before, 21 Synods adopted this memorial. As it’s clearly on the hearts and minds of so many people, I don’t think we do it justice by sending to it the taskforce. It should be sent to the Assembly. One of my favorite things about the Lutheran church is because it listening to its members. It should listen to things brought before it by its people. It should invite conversation: Thank you.

Speaker: Gregory Pile, Bishop of the Allegheny Synod. This church has been developing a social statement on human sexuality since 1989. e have been deliberate, thoughtful and prayerful. Since 1993, our biennial assemblies have discussed and acted on a variety of
memorials and resolutions. around the theme of human sexuality. Throughout these 18 years, however, this church has chosen to not make decisions regarding separate and particular elements of human sexuality. Rather, this church has continued to call for a broad and thorough conversation and study of human sexuality, leading up to a proposed statement scheduled for action in 2009. I left Orlando in 2005 with other voting members committed to continue to engage in these last four years of this church’s study process leading to that proposed statement. Therefore, I speak in favor of the recommendation of the Memorials Committee to forward all memorials of this 2007 Churchwide Assembly to the taskforce on human sexuality, that members of this church, then, can remain focused on responding to the present study, and eventually be able to work through the draft of the proposed social statement next year. In doing so, we the people of ELCA will continue our spirit-led, deliberate, thoughtful and prayerful process of discernment. Thank you.

Speaker: Sharon Bost region 9, Southeastern Synod, I speak for the referral — I mean for the substitute. It’s been 18 years, how much longer? I want to tell you about my son. He has so many gifts. He loves his church and is intensely loyal to his friends, his family and
especially to his Lutheran heritage. He stresmz each day, as should all of us here at this Assembly hall to hold himself to a higher standard. He seeks to live up to the visions, the expectations and the guidelines that are set forth before us by our Lord Jesus Christ. My child has felt the call of the Holy Spirit to ministry most of his life. fter all, his grandfather, uncle are all pastors in the ELCA. Because he is loyal to our Lutheran tradition, he is limited in his capacity to use his God-given gifts as a baptized child of God. Because my son is gay, the ELCA says he must choose between his calling to serve the church in a rostered capacity and the possible love of a special person, a life long partner that could enter his life in the future. All of God’s people are being denied the gifts of the spirit that have been poured upon potential gay and lesbian leaders in our church. The truth is: My son would make a wonderful pastor in a church or a chaplain in a children’s hospital or an assistant to a bishop. Why should he and others like him have to leave the ELCA, the church of his grandfather and his family and his church family to be allowed to serve out his unconditional calling from God? Give God the chance to work through my son. Let us step out of God’s way and watch him work through all of us. Thank you.

Bishop Hanson called the order of the day. A motion was made to delay the nominee forum until tomorrow. Requires a 2/3 vote. Failed 570-438. Proceed to orders of the day.

Nominee Forum will be in another note

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