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Saturday, August 22, 2009


Saturday at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly

Although the secular news media may have lost interest in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly following the much-reported decision on Friday to open the professional ministry in the ELCA who are in "publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships," the assembly continued the important work of the church as it met in Minneapolis on Saturday.

Among the many assembly actions today were these:

* The re-election of Mr. Carlos Pena, a businessman from Galveston, Texas, to a second six year term as the ELCA Vice President. The ELCA Vice President is a volunteer position and must be held by a lay (non-clergy) person and, as such, is the highest elected lay position in the church. Pena was re-elected on the fourth ballot. (Carlos preached at my 2006 installation as Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansdale. He and his wife, Diane, are dear friends).

* The approval of a process which will lead to a social statement on Justice for Women to be presented to the 2015 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.

* A call for a social statement on Human Disability.

* The approval of church constitution amendments which will require that 10% of those who served on congregation, synod and churchwide councils be ages 18 - 30. (Our Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod led the way in this action by allowing congregations to send one additional youth or young adult voting member to each synod assembly, an action which dramatically increased the youth and young adult participation at the 2009 Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod Assembly).

*Affirmation of the ELCA's continued strategy for peace in Israel and Palestine - see www.elca.org/peacenotwalls .

* Approval of the ELCA's budget for 2010 and 2011.

You can read more about any of these actions online at www.elca.org/assembly/actions.

Actually, these assembly actions do not capture the sense or focus of the assembly. Each day has major time spent in worship and prayer and some days include a major Bible study presentation. Saturday included the announcement of the first-ever ELCA video contest winners - 224 videos on the theme of "God's work. Our Hands." from individuals and congregations were submitted and 20 finalists named. The winning videos from a congregation and an individual came from Minnesota and Florida. You can view all of the entries online at http://www.godsworkourlands.org/ or www.elca.org/videocontest . The Odyssey Networks provided the cash prize for the congregation winner. (I serve as the ELCA's representative to the board of the Odyssey Networks - http://www.odysseynetworks.org/ .)

The assembly concludes on Sunday with worship and any remaining business items.

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