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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Assemblies discuss bullying and other issues

Of the synods reporting in by presstime, The Lutheran found that the issues assemblies dealt with this spring include bullying, hunger, immigration, campus ministry and more. Two synods elected new bishops, while one bishop was re-elected (see "Elections").

Alaska Synod
April 28-30, 2011
Ketchikan, Alaska.

• Passed four resolutions: anti-bullying, encouraging prevention of bullying, harassment and related forms of violence; added rostered lay leaders to the group of retirees who continue to have voice and vote at assemblies; outlined the process to be used next year when calling a new bishop; and as stewards of God's creation, members should strive to keep Alaska's waters clean and free of chemical waste.

Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod
April 29-May 1, 2011
Hurst, Texas

• Called for congregations to financially support the Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest, Austin, Texas.

• Supported the "DiscipleLife Alive!" initiative to form and train leaders for outreach ministries.

• Asked the synod to align with anti-bullying efforts.

• Endorsed the Louisiana Inter-Church Conference's efforts to support and advocate for children.

• Collected 2,800 canned goods by walking through neighborhoods, sent 100 people to work in a food bank or homeless shelter, and prepared 625 bags of breakfast foods and 100 letters of encouragement for homeless people.

Northeastern Minnesota Synod
April 29-May 1, 2011
Brainerd, Minn.

• Adopted a resolution on immigration reform and the DREAM Act, which supports a safe, orderly way for immigrants and refugees to enter the U.S., creates a process for the undocumented to gain legal status, and provides a path for citizenship for undocumented high school graduates.

• Encouraged the Minnesota legislature and governor to defeat Arizona-style anti-immigrant laws.

• Urged offices related to the synod, and all expressions of the ELCA, to reduce their energy-related carbon emissions by at least 5 percent per year, with the ultimate goal of reducing overall emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020.

• Asked the synod, churchwide and their partners to support and offer preventative programs addressing bullying, harassment and other related violence, especially with high risk populations.

Florida-Bahamas Synod
May 5-7, 2011
Orlando, Fla.

• Urged synod congregations to increase their awareness of, advocacy for and involvement in ministry to and with homeless people.

• Asked the 2012 Churchwide Assembly to support and publicize new ministry partnerships that address prevention of bullying, harassment and related forms of violence.

• Asked congregations to support the synod's diakonia program, as well as other leadership and lay education ministries.

• Defeated a resolution asking the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to declare a moratorium on social statements.

• Presented $58,940 in grants to seven congregations reaching out in bold ways to share the good news, and a $50,000 grant for the Lutheran Church of Haiti to purchase and maintain a vehicle.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod
May 6-7, 2011
Telford, Pa.

• Encouraged congregations and all expressions of the ELCA to reduce energy-related carbon emissions.

• Asked the ELCA to support the U.N. and also proclaim 2011 as the International Year of People of African Descent, and in so doing promote education, work to eradicate racism, and safeguard and pray for the rights and work of human rights defenders who fight to end all forms of racism and discrimination domestically and internationally.

• Called on the church to speak and act in preventing bullying, harassment and other related violence.

• Claimed and vowed to practice an anti-racist identity and place anti-racism training as a high priority.

Southeastern Minnesota Synod
May 6-7, 2011
Rochester, Minn.

• Recommended that the ELCA Church Council remove from the Health and Benefits Program pastors who have left the ELCA roster.

• Urged strategies to prevent bullying and harassment.

Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod
May 6-7, 2011
Leesburg, Va.

• Urged congregations to pray regularly for those in prison in Ethiopia and to study the situation of the Oromo people; directed its bishop to express to the U.S. Secretary of State its concern for the Oromo people and requested that all developmental and military aid to Ethiopia be tied to that government's compliance with internationally recognized human rights agreements; asked the ELCA for related education and advocacy programs.

• Received the Kairos Palestine document as "an authentic perspective of Palestinian Christians on the state of affairs in their homeland and of their commitment to finding peace, justice and reconciliation." The resolution also affirms the path of nonviolent resistance to oppression, and directs appropriate churchwide units to review how investment funds are managed in relation to international human rights and international law.

• Asked the ELCA to make positive economic investments in Palestinian projects and businesses that peacefully strengthen the economic and social fabric of Palestinian society.

• Urged the synod to provide resources to raise awareness of sexual harassment/sexual abuse and bullying.

Minneapolis Area Synod
May 7. 2011
Eden Prairie, Minn.

• Asked the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to encourage, support and publicize new ministry partnerships that address prevention of bullying, harassment and related forms of violence around issues of "sexual orientation, nonconforming gender behaviors [and] appearance (e.g., body size and disability)."

• Requested that the 2011 Churchwide Assembly call upon the ELCA Office of the Presiding Bishop and the Church Council to ask the U.S. government to investigate FBI raids and subpoenas "targeting domestic peace and anti-war groups ... for constitutional legality in order to ensure that the legitimate right to dissent from the policies of our government remains guaranteed to all citizens."

Dale Horkey<BR><BR>The First Lutheran
The Celebration Ringers, the high school bell choir of First Lutheran Church, Colorado Springs, Colo., plays postlude music at the closing eucharist of the Rocky Mountain Synod assembly.

Rocky Mountain Synod
May 12-14, 2011
Colorado Springs, Colo.

• Urged congregations to support active and retired military personnel and their families.

• Asked its congregations to read and discuss the Kairos Palestine document and seek ways to achieve a deeper understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

• Called on the church to speak and act to prevent bullying, harassment and related violence.

Northern Great Lakes Synod
May 12-14, 2011
Marquette, Mich.

• Defeated resolutions calling for the exclusive use of "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" as the Triune name of God in all synod worship services, as well as that the synod "ensure and reaffirm that the congregations of this synod stand by their own bound consciences" in calling pastors and performing mission work.

• Approved an anti-bullying resolution and referred for continued discussion a resolution calling the synod to be "a place of welcome for traditional Lutherans and traditional pastors" opposed to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly sexuality decisions.

Southwestern Washington Synod
May 13-14, 2011
Grand Mound, Wash.

• Asked its congregations to: renew and revitalize their attention to hunger issues in the world and their communities, to appoint a member as the congregation's hunger awareness contact, to support congregational initiatives that combat hunger and to help grow awareness of the need for gifts to ELCA World Hunger.

• Challenged its congregations to set a three-year fundraising goal toward the ELCA Strategy on HIV/AIDS; asked the synod's hunger committee to support congregations' fundraising efforts with educational, worship, and other resources and speakers.

• Resolved to continue to develop and promote a "1,000 Mission Friends" appeal to benefit mission starts and congregational renewal "in one of the world's great mission fields where most of our neighbors are unchurched."

Metropolitan New York Synod
May 13-14, 2011
Melville, N.Y.

• Asked the synod and ELCA to encourage, support and publicize new partnerships in ministry that emerge in addressing the prevention of bullying, harassment and related forms of violence.

• Established a task force to help pastors and congregations identify youth and young adults of mature faith so that 10 percent of synod council, committees and task forces be made up of youth.

Southeast Michigan Synod
May 13-14, 2011
Farmington, Mich.

• Called for "a plan for mutual missional action" between the Southeast Michigan and North/West Lower Michigan synods to be presented at their respective 2012 synod assemblies.

Northwest Washington Synod
May 13-14, 2011
Lynnwood, Wash.

• Adopted "A Vision for Evangelism in Northwest Washington" and charged its evangelical outreach team with implementing it.

Southwestern Texas Synod
May 14-15, 2011
Victoria, Texas.

• Encouraged all synod congregations to place the Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest in their annual budgets beginning in 2011.

• Asked congregations to study and discuss immigration history and policy.

• Adopted "A Common Foundation: Shared Principles for Alliances to Overcome Poverty"; appointed a task force to educate and advocate on issues of poverty.

Sierra Pacific Synod
May 13-15, 2011
Burlingame, Calif.

• Resolved that the synod "continue to affirm and celebrate the Holy Trinity in its life and liturgies."

• Welcomed St. Francis Lutheran, San Francisco, back onto the roster of ELCA congregations.

• Asked its council, beginning with the 2012 assembly, to present at least one budget option that shows a balanced budget.

Eastern North Dakota Synod
May 14-15, 2011
Fargo, N.D.

• Moved to increase annual congregational giving to ELCA World Hunger and to use resources highlighted at the assembly as a stimulus for addressing the needs of a hungry, impoverished world.

• Approved a resolution to prevent bullying and harassment.

• Defeated a resolution seeking withdrawal of the proposed social statement on genetics, which will be considered by the 2011 Churchwide Assembly.

Northeastern Ohio Synod
May 13-14, 2011
Akron, Ohio

• Asked the ELCA to support the U.N. and also proclaim 2011 as the International Year of People of African Descent, and in so doing promote education, work to eradicate racism, and safeguard and pray for the rights and work of human rights defenders who fight to end all forms of racism and discrimination domestically and internationally.

• Encouraged congregations to participate in the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

Northwestern Minnesota Synod
May 14-15, 2011
Moorhead, Minn.

• Asked congregations to provide direct budgetary support for Lutheran campus ministries at Bemidji State University and Minnesota State University, Moorhead.

• Proclaimed July 10 as King James Bible Sunday in the synod to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the translation.

• Called congregations to look for "missional edges" and enter "into a time of prayerful discovery of their purpose in God's mission within their unique context."

• Asked congregations to consider support for mission partners, including churches on the U.S.-Mexico border.

• Asked the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to encourage, support and publicize new ministry partnerships addressing the prevention of bullying, harassment and related forms of violence.

South Carolina Synod
May 19-20, 2011
Greenville, S.C.

• Sent voting members sporting blue T-shirts into the city to participate in various experiences, such as "shopping as discipleship" and "I was a prisoner and you visited me."

• Defeated a proposition calling for the synod council to "renegotiate" its mission support of churchwide activities from 41.5 percent to 33 percent of contributions from congregations to the synod.

• Called on the church to speak and act to prevent bullying, harassment and related violence.

Pacifica Synod
May 19-21, 2011
Irvine, Calif.

• Supported continued participation by the synod in anti-malaria efforts.

• Endorsed a bid for the churchwide organization to support and strengthen Lutheran campus ministries.

St. Paul Area Synod
May 20-21, 2011
Burnsville, Minn.

• Participated in three conversations on race, led by Herbert Perkins and Margery Otto of the Antiracism Study-Dialogue Circles, an organization devoted to reducing racism.

• Asked the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to encourage, support and publicize new ministry partnerships "to support and offer preventative programs addressing bullying, harassment and other related violence, especially with higher-risk populations."

Southern Ohio Synod
May 20-21, 2011
Springfield, Ohio.

• Reported that mission support was down significantly across the synod. Congregations that met or exceeded their promised contributions were commended, especially those like Faith Lutheran, Wilmington, Ohio, that while still negatively impacted by the layoffs at shipping company DHL have remained faithful in their giving.

• Heard that while 14 synod congregations left the ELCA in recent months, the synod remains committed to its Advancing God's Mission strategic plan. Several mission starts have been launched, including Oromo Lutheran Church in Columbus. The congregation hopes to be self-sustaining by next year.

Southeastern Iowa Synod
May 20-21, 2011
Coralville, Iowa

• Memorialized the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to encourage the churchwide organization to support and strengthen its relationship to and financial support of Lutheran campus ministry across the church.

• Hosted Bishop Charles Mjema of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, Pare Diocese, and his family. The diocese and synod share a companion relationship.


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