ELCA Church Assembly 2022 – ELCA Grand Canyon Synod

The ELCA Church Assembly 2022 officially opened on August 9 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, meeting through August 12. word and prayer.

During the first plenary, the 804 voting members present voted for the vice-presidency of the ELCA. 682 legal ballots were cast and 512 were needed for the election. There was no election.

The first plenary also included a video acknowledging the 35th anniversary of the ELCA. In April 1987, the ELCA constitution was adopted in Columbus. The plenary included the recognition of former officers, including Herbert Chilstrom (1931-2020), the ELCA’s first presiding bishop. A video commemorating William “Bill” Horne II, who was vice-president of the ELCA when he died last year, was also shown.

Voting members approved (705-9) en bloc to archive nine social policy resolutions in accordance with “ELCA Policies and Procedures for Addressing Social Concerns,” which mandates a review of social policy resolutions older than 25 year.

In other cases, several briefs were examined during the second plenary session. The assembly adopted (726-44) en bloc 19 memorials that covered topics such as gun violence, parental and family medical leave, and Holy Communion practices. Twelve briefs have been withdrawn en bloc for separate review. Those being considered and implemented today include:

  • Memorial B4 – Restructure ELCA Governance: Requested (738-72) the Church Council of the ELCA to establish a Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church to review statements of intent from the Church and its organizational structure and to present its findings and recommendations to the 2025 Church Assembly for a possible replenishment convention.

  • Memorial C3 – Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust Revision: Authorized (741-59) a reconsideration to revise the social statement “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust (2009)” so that its wording reflects current church understanding, policy of the church, civil law, and the acceptance of same-sex marriage and non-conforming couples. The action includes identifying the cost of the review and the source of revenue for such work, which could be considered as early as the 2025 Assembly across the Church.

  • Memorial A5 – Strengthening Urban Ministries: Called (762-31) to create an Urban Ministry Group to accompany ELCA synods in their urban strategies to enhance congregational vitality and ministry sustainability in urban contexts and to share reports on ways the church can strengthen witness and service among people in underserved urban areas.

  • Memorial A7 – Black Migrant Strategy: led (783-16) the development of a proposal aimed at strengthening the advocacy, protection and support of black migrants, in particular through AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities) and in partnership with U.S. and global ecumenical and interfaith partners.

  • Memorial B9 – Mission Development Process: Requested (758-38) greater fairness and clarity on the mission development process, including review and refinement of current ELCA guidelines regarding appointments, appeals, funds and support mechanisms for mission developers and new ministries.

The assembly also received reports from Lori Fedyk, ELCA Treasurer, and Louise Johnson, ELCA Administration Manager, as well as the presentation of the 2023-2025 budget proposal. The Treasurer’s Report included brief presentations from Daniel Kirschbaum, ELCA Program Director for Young Adult Ministries, and Rahel Williams, ELCA Mission Funding Director, who highlighted some of the work and programs made possible through the financial support for the church.

Before the adjournment of the second plenary session, the assembly received video greetings from Ibrahim Azar, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land.

After the second plenary, a non-legislative session was held in which Eaton apologized on behalf of the ELCA for Iglesia Luterana Santa Maria Peregrina following the abrupt removal of their pastor on the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe last year, accompanied by a public commitment to be an anti-racist church.

A word and prayer service that highlighted the importance of valuing and listening to marginalized members of the church took place after the plenary sessions and apologies.

Barry F. Howard