ELCA Churchwide Assembly – Day 4 (Morning)

We learned that invitations to last evening’s worship service were distributed (illegally) during the quasi committee of the whole. That worship service was not a worship service of the Assembly, but one organized by Lutherans Concerned/North America or Goodsoil and featured preaching by Bradley Schmeling (a pastor removed from the ELCA roster earlier this year because he was not in compliance with Vision and Expectations) and Eucharist was presided over by Bishop Payne of the New England Synod. This worship service was seen as affirming by some and rebellious by others. That distribution of unapproved material to the Assembly will not be seen in a favorable light by most.

The Report of the Secretary of the ELCA was provided in video format. It was quite a personal reflection for a man who is often experienced as being very private and reserved. He used the report to review his entire ordained ministry. We have been well-served by Lowell Almen. When it is released, I’d commend the video to those who have known Lowell. It was one of the most well-done reflections I’ve seen.

The Assembly moved into the first Common Election, that is balloting related to Churchwide Units and Church Council.

The Assembly heard from Bishop Munib Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. It was an impressive and impassioned speech. Pastor Gary Harbaugh writes about the speech, “Wow! I don’t agree with thePalestinian Bishop Younan’s political views; however he has provided a tremendous witness to faith in Jesus Christ and the Glory of the Father and the strength of the Spirit for people living in a difficult (understatement) situation.

The Assembly then moved to consider B3: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. A voting member from Southeastern Iowa Synod proposed an amendment suggesting particular action including exploring first purchasing products from Palestinian providers, refusing to buy products produced in Israeli settlements, and exploring the entire investment activity by this church. Some debate followed, then Bishop Younan was asked to comment. He said that the Lutheran Church of Sweden has enacted similar resolutions. He appreciates the focus toward that produced in “illegal” settlements rather than the entire Israeli economy. Debate was suspended for orders of the day.

Reports from Lutheran World Relief and World Hunger Appeal were presented, lifting the impact of our work around the world.

Recommendation for World Hunger Appeal was approved 984-5. Two comments during the debate, one asking if the left-overs from the per-diem could be used in some way for World Hunger, and one lifting “charitable remainder trust” as an option for individuals.

Withdrawals from the ballot for ELCA Secretary were read as numbers rather than names, making it difficult for those of us who do not have the entire list. 70 persons withdrew from consideration. Votes were cast. If there is no election, the top 7 vote getters (plus ties) will be on the next ballot and there will be bios prepared for them.

The Assembly received greetings from Ralston Deffenbaugh of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “I wish I could bring an upbeat report to you today, but these have been very tough times. Our nation is filled with
fear, fear of the stranger. When it comes to refugees, U.S. refugee resettlement has still no where near recovered since September 11th.” “We at LIRS will do our best to provide educational information to pastors and congregations about the current law and about what pastors and congregations can do to try to respond to those who are in fear…”

Pondering Pastor


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