In a key action taken Aug. 7, the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted to approve a memorial that declares the ELCA a sanctuary church. The ELCA is the first North American denomination to declare itself a sanctuary church body. As a sanctuary church the ELCA is committed to serving and supporting migrant children and families in communities across the country.

Earlier in the day, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton joined more than 700 assembly members and others in a march and prayer vigil to the Milwaukee Immigration and Customs Enforcement office. The march addressed concerns about the human rights of migrant children and families entering the U.S. along the southern border. Through the ELCA’s initiative, Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities (AMMPARO), this church is committed to work toward just and humane policies affecting migrants in and outside the U.S.

During morning plenary, Chris Boerger, secretary of the ELCA, gave his report to the assembly. Boerger, who is retiring this fall, spent part of his report explaining the role of the secretary and the various responsibilities that come with the office.

“I believe that good structure is necessary for our life together and for the accomplishment of the work that God has given us to do,” Boerger said. “I have said often that the primary focus of the church should be the mission that God has given us. The constitutions and policies of the church are to serve that mission. The mission should not be hindered by the constitution or policies of the church.”

A first ballot was taken for election of ELCA secretary. A total of 866 votes were cast and 646 votes were required for election. There was no election.

Read about the other key actions taken and considered by voting members on Aug. 7 here.

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