ELCA Assembly – mostly introductory presentations

There were two plenary (business) sessions today (Tuesday, August 9th) at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans.  Almost all of them were introductions to plenary business items which will come up later in this assembly – the churchwide budget, the “Declarations on the Way” proposals for continued dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, the proposal for focused work on immigration issues, especially children called the Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities (AMMPARO) proposal.  More on AMMPARO in a later blog.

The “Declaration on the Way – Church, Ministry and Eucharist” includes 32 “declarations” where the ELCA and the Roman Catholic Church are in agreement (while acknowledging some of the major areas where we are not including shared Holy Communion and the ordination of women).

ELCA Vice President Carlos Pena was presented the “Servus Dei” medal, the ELCA’s way of honoring retiring ELCA officers.  (I used to take care of getting these made for retiring ELCA officers).

080916 - New Orleans, LA - The 2016 Churchwide Assembly. Vice President Carlos Pena gives report and receives Servus Dei. Mark Hanson and Denis Madden introduce Declaration on the Way.

One “Memorial” was approved (that’s “church-speak” for an assembly resolution for follow up action by the ELCA Church Council and staff). It was on what is called “The Doctrine of Discovery,” a term that, frankly, was new to me this year.

Here is some of the language in this assembly-approved resolution – “To repudiate explicitly and clearly the European-derived doctrine of discovery as an example of the “improper mixing of the power of the church and the power of the sword” (Augsburg Confession Article XXVIII, Latin text), and to acknowledge and repent from this church’s complicity in the evils of colonialism in the Americas, which continue to harm tribal governments and individual tribal members.”

My bishop, the Rev. Dr. Guy Erwin, the first American Indian bishop in the ELCA, spoke in favor of this resolution which was overwhelming approved.  Here is a photo of Bishop Erwin speaking in favor of this resolution –


There were lot of greetings/reports today – Women of the ELCA, ELCA Conference of Bishops, Augsburg Fortress (now 1517Media), and Bishop Mendardo Gomez of the Lutheran Church in El Salvador.

A “memorial” on fossil fuels was debated and an amendment proposed but there was not enough time to finish action on this proposal.

There are at least four current churchwide staff here at this assembly (several others are back at the churchwide office in Chicago) who were part of the ELCA communication staff while I was serving in Chicago (1992- 2006).  Here is a photo of three of them with me –

20160809_124639 (1)

Karen Dersnah, Paul Edison-Swift, Elisa Alvarez and me. Missing is Frank Imhoff who is also here.

And, we are all still at it….


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