On day three of the 2022 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the assembly elected Imran Siddiqui, a member of St. John Lutheran Church in Atlanta, as vice president—the highest position a layperson can hold in the ELCA.
Siddiqui was elected on the fifth ballot, with 550 votes to 264 votes for Roberto Lara Aranda, a member of St. Peter Lutheran Church, New York City, and assistant to the bishop for communications and development in the Metropolitan New York Synod.
“The top three people for this position were people of color, and that’s fantastic,” Siddiqui said after his election. “That doesn’t mean we have solved racism yet. We have a lot of work to do, church. … I believe we can do it.”
Siddiqui grew up Muslim and became a Lutheran in 2011. He is currently the vice president of the Southeastern Synod, and his six-year term as ELCA vice president will commence on Nov. 1, 2022.
On this day, the assembly was invited to wear black as part of the “Thursdays in Black” campaign toward a world without rape or violence led by the World Council of Churches.
The day opened with a morning prayer service that included a sermon on “embodying the questions” from Benjamin Stewart, ELCA pastor and Gordon A. Braatz Associate Professor of Worship and director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
The results of the first common ballot were reported and all candidates on the 95 tickets who received a majority were declared elected to the Church Council and boards.
In other business, the assembly adopted (751-19) the 2023-2025 budget and continued action on memorials removed for separate consideration. Memorials acted on today include:
- Memorial A8 – Land Back: Calls for (737-65) ELCA ministries and partners to engage in deeper collaboration with Indigenous partners, including incorporating land acknowledgments as part of public gatherings, exploring the creation of restorative justice programs, and studying funding needs and sources for ELCA Indigenous congregations and service ministries.
- Memorial B8 – Separation Agreements: Affirms (721-79) a churchwide organization commitment to limit the use of nondisclosure provisions and to urge other expressions and partners of the ELCA to also limit the use of nondisclosure agreements, including as a matter of course or in termination of calls of rostered ministers.
- Memorial A14 – Roe v. Wade: Encouraged (776-27) support and prayer for people affected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade, including rostered ministers and lay staff at congregations and social ministry organizations. It also called for conversation on the church’s teaching on abortion and related topics, as well as synodical reviews of the impacts that overturning Roe v. Wade and other related local rulings may have on pastoral counseling and the pastor-client relationship.
The assembly also received a report from the Conference of Bishops by Tracie Bartholomew, chair of the Conference of Bishops and bishop of the New Jersey Synod.
Voting members discussed and acted on proposed amendments to the Constitutions, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions of the ELCA. They also considered resolutions and approved (708-93) a motion that authorizes a possible revision of the social statement “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” that will reconsider the church’s current concept of the four positions of bound conscience.
The assembly also recognized the ecumenical and interreligious commitments of the church, including “A Declaration of Ecumenical Commitment” (adopted 1991), “A Declaration of the ELCA to the Jewish Community” (adopted 1994), “A Declaration of Interreligious Commitment” (adopted 2019) and “A Declaration of the ELCA to the Muslim Community” (adopted 2022).
Many guests representing the ELCA’s full communion partnerships, shared dialogues, and partner coalitions and councils presented greetings to the assembly. Those who presented greetings in person included:
- Denis J. Madden, titular bishop of Baia and auxiliary bishop of Baltimore
- Eddy Aleman, general secretary of the Reformed Church in America
- Herbert Nelson, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
- Mark Pettis, ecumenical and interfaith relationships manager for the United Church of Christ
- Vashti McKenzie, interim general secretary and president of the National Council of Churches and bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
- Esther Lederman, director of congregational innovation for the Union for Reform Judaism
- Saffet Catovic, head of the Islamic Society of North America’s Office for Interfaith Alliances, Community Alliances and Government Relations