The 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly officially opened Aug. 9 at the Greater Columbus (Ohio) Convention Center, meeting through Aug. 12. Day one consisted of plenary sessions one and two, an apology to Iglesia Luterana Santa María Peregrina, Stockton, Calif., and a service of word and prayer.
During plenary one, the 804 voting members present cast a first ballot for ELCA vice president. There were 682 legal ballots cast; 512 were needed for election. There was no election.
Plenary one also included a video recognizing the 35th anniversary of the ELCA. In April 1987, the ELCA constitution was adopted in Columbus. The plenary included recognition of past officers, including Herbert Chilstrom (1931-2020), the first presiding bishop of the ELCA. A video memorializing William “Bill” Horne II, who was serving as ELCA vice president when he died last year, was also shown.
Voting members approved (705-9) en bloc to archive nine social policy resolutions in accordance with the “Policies and Procedures of the ELCA for Addressing Social Concerns,” which directs a review of social policy resolutions that are older than 25 years.
In other business, several memorials were considered in 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 communion practices. Twelve memorials were pulled from en bloc for separate consideration. Those considered and acted upon Tuesday include
- Memorial B4 — Restructure the Governance of the ELCA: Calls on (738-72) the ELCA Church Council to establish a Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church to consider statements of purpose for the church and its organizational structure and to present its findings and recommendations to the 2025 Churchwide Assembly in preparation for a possible reconstituting convention.
- Memorial C3 – Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust Revision: Authorizes (741-59) a reconsideration to revise the social statement “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust (2009)” so its wording reflects current church understanding, church policy, civil law and acceptance of marriage of same-gender and gender non-conforming couples. The action includes identifying the cost of revision and the revenue source for such work, which could be considered as early as the 2025 Churchwide Assembly.
- Memorial A5 – Fortifying Urban Ministries: Calls for (762-31) the creation of 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 for the church to fortify the witness and service among people in underserved urban areas.
- Memorial A7 – Black Migrant Strategy: Directs (783-16) the development of a proposal to strengthen advocacy, protection and accompaniment of Black migrants, particularly through AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities) and in partnership with U.S. and global ecumenical and interreligious partners.
- Memorial B9 – Mission Development Process: Calls for (758-38) greater equity and clarity on the mission development process, including studying and refining current ELCA guidelines related to appointments, calls, funds and support mechanisms for mission developers and new ministries.
The assembly also received reports from Lori Fedyk, ELCA treasurer, and Louise Johnson, ELCA executive for administration, 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, that highlighted some of the work and programs made possible through financial support to the church.
Before the second plenary session closed, the assembly received greetings via video from Ibrahim Azar, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.
Following plenary two, a nonlegislative session was held in which Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton issued an apology on behalf of the ELCA to Iglesia Luterana Santa María Peregrina following the abrupt removal of their pastor on the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe last year, along with a public commitment to be an anti-racist church.
A service of word and prayer that emphasized the importance of valuing and listening to marginalized members of the church was held following the plenary sessions and apology.