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Saturday, August 11, 2007


Saturday morning at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly

Saturday morning at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly was focused on elections and sex!

David Swartling was elected at the new ELCA Secretary on the 5th ballot. Swartling is an attorney from Seattle and a most gracious man. He was immediately installed into this new office at noon worship today. Amendments to the ELCA Constitution and Bylaws were also approved this morning. We also heard a wonderful report on ELCA Multicultural Ministries. Much singing and praying as usual, too.

The assembly has completed action on matters relating to synod memorials (resolutions) on homosexuality. Most synod resolutions were referred to the ELCA Human Sexuality Studies task force for their review (no action specified). The effort to change ELCA's rule regarding the rostering of pastors in committed homosexual relationship did not prevail. A further attempt to get a moratorium on discipline for the next two years also did not prevail. What was finally approved was this resolution:

"...the Churchwide Assembly prays, urges, and encourages synods, synodical bishops, and the presiding bishop to refrain from or demonstrate restraint in discipling those congregations and persons who call into the rostered ministry otherwise-qualified candidates who are in a mutal, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship..." A second part of this resolution used the same worded to refered to rostered leaders instead of congregations.

This, combined with a change in one referral to the Sexuality Studies Task Force directing them to come to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly with recommendations on rostering of homosexual pastors in committed relationships, is progress. Certainly not as much as I had hoped, but some progress nonetheless. And, it really helps bishops, like our own Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod Bishop Claire Burkat, respond to the nearly 100 rostered leaders who "came out" during this assembly and, without this resolution, might have faced discipline after this assembly.

So, I guess this glass is half full. I must say, that, right now, it feels more like half-empty. Some of those who do not want any change in ELCA policies on homosexuality got really nasty in today's discussion. I have always been proud of this church. During today's discussion, I was not proud....

I'll get over it.

Yet to be voted on are resolutions on Isreal/Palestine, Disaster Response, the the Blue Ribbon Mission Funding recommendations. Those are all to come up later this afternoon.

The assembly e-maiil center will close soon and the hotel's business center may not be open enough time for me to write again today, but I will try.

Today, I feel as if I am only living in God's amazing grace,


hi eric,
wish i had discovered your blog earlier in the week, but was glad to find it today and get another angle on what has happened. tried to follow the action with the video feeds, but it seemed the hotter the issue, the less likely i was to be able to connect. anyway, just wanted to say thanks for putting your viewpoint out there for me to stumble upon. i hope you will continue to blog after assembly. sorry you lost your election!
Disappointing news.
It is a disappointment (especially to members of a RIC congregation) that more progress could not be made in extending God's love to the whole Body of Christ.

My prayer is that in 2009 we no longer defer coming to a consensus as a church. Martin Luther, after some deliberation (a lot less than 2 years!) was able to make a stand by his conscience, hopefully we can have the courage and conviction to do the same.

In the absence of approval for the two memorials - it is nice to know that the governing authorities have been urged to use restraint in enforcing the policies of the ELCA.
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