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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Assemblies move toward the future

Topics include bullying, campus ministry, hunger, genetics, mission and more

Synod assemblies came to a close at the end of June. Of those reporting in by presstime, The Lutheran found that synods are moving on after the sexuality decisions made by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly (see also "Church moves on to Orlando" and "'11 assembly gathers in Orlando"). Assembly topics this year included bullying, campus ministry, hunger, the proposed social statement on genetics, mission and more.

South-Central Synod of Wisconsin
May 14-15, Middleton, Wis.

• Asked the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to urge all facets of the ELCA to reduce energy-related carbon emissions by at least 5 percent each year.

• Requested that the 2011 assembly address and speak out against bullying.

• Resolved to include at least one person with disabilities on the synod's roster of voting members in response to the ELCA message titled "People Living with Disabilities" (ELCA messages are approved by the Church Council and are intended to encourage awareness, deliberation and action on a specific matter of social concern).

North/West Lower Michigan Synod
May 22-24, Kalamazoo, Mich.

• Agreed to formulate a plan with the Southeast Michigan Synod for mutual missional action to be presented at their respective 2012 synod assemblies. This plan may include a recommendation to reconfigure the synods.

• Defeated a resolution which would have affirmed that the term marriage "only be used for publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous relationships between a man and a woman" and that the synod would not recognize "publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships" as marriage.

Jennifer S. Hitt (shovel in hand),
Jennifer S. Hitt (shovel in hand), pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Needham, Mass., revels in the blessing she is being given during the New England Synod assembly. More than 400 voting members and visitors were sprinkled with water from branches dipped in a bowl of water by two people at the head of the escalator. They were heading out to participate in 50 service projects in the Springfield, Mass., area.

Northwestern Ohio Synod
May 20-21, Bowling Green, Ohio

• Voted to begin conversations with the Muslim community of Northwest Ohio in order to better educate both groups and overcome prejudices.

Southwest California Synod
May 20-21, Burbank, Calif.

• Urged synod agencies and members to invest in Lutheran financial institutions, community banks or credit unions in response to perceived injustices on behalf of large, international banks during the current recession.

• Moved to petition President Barack Obama to shut down the School of the Americas/Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in order to investigate alleged use of torture manuals and human rights abuses, and assess military training.

• Supported the proposed California act called DISCLOSE, which would require political advertisements to be transparent in how they are funded.

Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod
May 20-22, Galveston, Texas

• Memorialized the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to urge every ELCA congregation to compensate for reductions in pension funding for retired clergy by contributing at least $100 this year.

• Called upon the church to speak out against and act toward ending bullying and harassment.

Central-Southern Illinois Synod
June 2-4, Springfield, Ill.

• Asked the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to work to prevent future bullying and harassment in light of the sometimes tragic consequences of such behavior.

• Celebrated the achievements of Lutheran Campus Ministry of Illinois and requested that the synod not decrease funding for the ministry during the next five years.

• Recognized, along with the U.N., 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent in order to further educate congregations and improve relationships and understanding among all members of the ELCA community.

Delaware-Maryland Synod
June 2-4, Ocean City, Md.

• Approved an increase in funding for missions to the ELCA despite other budget cuts within the synod.

• Raised money and collected hundreds of cans of food to boost awareness of world hunger.

Lower Susquehanna Synod
June 2-4, Grantham, Pa.

• Memorialized the 2011Churchwide Assembly to encourage peace between Israel and Palestine through positive economic investment.

• Approved a budget increase for 2012 that will give $1.6 million to churchwide mission support.

• Assembled 841 personal hygiene kits to send to Lutheran World Relief.

North Carolina Synod
June 2-4, Hickory, N.C.

• Asked the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to work to eliminate bullying and harassment.

• Memorialized the ELCA to encourage greater cultural diversity in ministry.

Allegheny Synod
June 2-4, Altoona, Pa.

• Memorialized the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to urge congregations to donate generously to the ELCA Special Needs Retirement Fund for clergy and other pension plan members.

• Asked the 2011 assembly to speak out against bullying and to work to prevent it.

Western North Dakota Synod
June 2-4, Bismarck, N.D.

• Voiced strong support of farmers and ranchers in their use of technology to produce safe and bountiful food, asking that the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly do the same.

• Raised $54,165 to support the Central African Republic and honored congregation members who raised considerable sums of money toward this effort.

East-Central Synod of Wisconsin
June 3-4, Appleton, Wis.

• Defeated a resolution that would discourage people who intend to pursue or are pursuing same-sex relationships from seeking a call in the synod or that would call on the synod and congregations to deny them calls.

• Rejected a resolution asking the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to revoke the decision of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly that allows individuals in committed same-gender relationships to hold office within the church.

New Jersey Synod
June 3-4, Ewing, N.J.

• Asked the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to help put an end to bullying, in part by educating about prevention.

• Agreed to teach its congregations ways to be more energy- and environment-conscious; memorialized the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to do so for the denomination.

Metropolitan Chicago Synod
June 3-4, Rosemont, Ill.

• Maintained a strong stance against racism and expressed plans to develop an antiracist identity for the synod and to offer support and education to its members.

• Formed a task force to help stop bullying within all manifestations of the synod and with secular partnerships.

• Requested funding to support an anti-bullying task force from various sources, which include Lutheran organizational grants as well as private and governmental funds.

• Asked the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to promote an end to bullying.

• Recognized Lutheran Campus Ministry of Illinois for its work in bringing underrepresented age groups into the worshiping community; memorialized that funding should not decrease for a five-year period to Lutheran Campus Ministry as a whole.

Indiana-Kentucky Synod
June 3-5, Fort Wayne, Ind.

• Committed to work toward the ELCA's 2015 goal of raising $15 million to help prevent and treat malaria, a cause for which the synod has already raised more than $7,000.

Northwest Synod of Wisconsin
June 3-4, Eau Claire, Wis.

• Collected offerings of $39,908 for ELCA World Hunger and for food security and sustainability in Malawi.

• Began a food drive within each congregation by giving each member of the assembly a box of food with which to start.

West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod
June 3-4, Snowshoe, W.Va.

• Asked the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to remove the segment of the LIFT (Living into the Future Together) Task Force report that allocates the responsibility of theological discernment to the ELCA presiding bishop as it is counter to the information in the unaltered Augsburg Confession.

• Supported the proposed social statement on genetics, "Genetics, Faith and Responsibility," and the revisions made to ground the concepts further in religion.

• Requested that the 2011 assembly change the mission support process to a per capita basis rather than the current proportionate share system.

• Asked the 2011 assembly to encourage congregations to generously support the Special Needs Retirement Fund.

Central States Synod
June 3-5, Kansas City, Mo.

• Resolved to build a stronger relationship with partner synods in foreign countries.

• Declared September 2011 as "Campus Ministry Month" and requested that each congregation celebrate and support campus ministry.

• Called upon the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to address the subject of bullying and to help prevent future instances.

Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod
June 3-5, Spokane, Wash.

• Asked the church to address the subject of bullying in an attempt to eliminate it and the violence it causes.

• Resolved to provide greater financial support to Lutheran Campus Ministries.

Montana Synod
June 3-5, Great Falls, Mont.

• Requested that the 2011 Churchwide Assembly address issues of bullying and work to prevent it in the future.

• Moved to educate leaders and future leaders in financial planning and wellness.

Northeastern Iowa Synod
June 3-5, Decorah, Iowa

• Created a three-year plan to raise $250,000 to support the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

• Memorialized the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to speak out against bullying, harassment and related violence.

Western Iowa Synod
June 3-5, Sioux City, Iowa

• Defeated a resolution that would have required a two-thirds majority vote of ELCA congregations to adopt social statements.

• Gathered more than $37,000 to support ELCA World Hunger and the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

Nebraska Synod
June 3-5, Fremont, Neb.

• Asked the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to reject the proposed social statement on genetics titled "Genetics, Faith and Responsibility."

• Encouraged the church to use mission centers to pursue discussion and study of social issues rather than issue social statements.

• Defeated a resolution to revoke the policies adopted by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly that allow for the ordination of people in committed same-gender relationships.

• Failed to pass a resolution calling for the repeal of the social statement "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust."

New England Synod
June 3-5, Needham, Mass.

• Implored the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to speak out against bullying and harassment.

• Created a task force to investigate the needs of interfaith Lutheran marriages.

Oregon Synod
June 3-5, Eugene, Ore.

• Called upon the church to speak out against bullying, harassment and violence and work to prevent it through educational programs at all levels of the ELCA.

Southeastern Synod
June 3-5, Atlanta

• Asked the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to promote education and suicide prevention programs at all levels, such as ELCA colleges and universities and synods, in addition to encouraging Congress to hold periodic suicide prevention and education conferences.

Virginia Synod
June 3-5, Salem, Va.

• Resolved that the synod will be a place of welcome for all Lutheran congregations, rostered leaders and laypeople in recognition that some question their place in the church.

• Requested that the 2011 Churchwide Assembly recognize people of African descent both to coincide with the U.N. "International Year of People of African Descent," as well as to further educate congregations, unite diverse groups of congregation members and work to eliminate racism.

Upstate New York Synod
June 5-7, Rochester, N.Y.

• Congregation members raised and donated $47,229 to supply clean water through Lutheran World Relief.

• Memorialized the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to speak out against bullying and violence related to bullying.

Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod
June 9-11, Greenville, Pa.

• Requested that the 2011 Churchwide Assembly encourage synods and congregations to help financially support the Special Needs Retirement Fund for clergy and other pension plan members.

Grand Canyon Synod
June 10-11, Phoenix

• Requested that the 2011 Churchwide Assembly recognize the problems associated with bullying targeted toward high risk populations and encouraged financial support from Lutheran organizational grants toward this end.

South Dakota Synod
June 10-11, Sioux Falls, S.D.

• Asked that the 2011 Churchwide Assembly consider adopting the work of the LIFT (Living into the Future Together) Task Force and its attempts to study how the church might better navigate moral and ethical dilemmas.

• Rejected a churchwide constitutional amendment that would have allowed every voting member of the ELCA the ability to petition decisions made at the Churchwide Assembly.

La Crosse Area Synod
June 10-12, Decorah, Iowa

• Supported the dairy farmers' campaign to receive fair compensation for their milk; requested that the 2011 Churchwide Assembly include its support, as well as considering milk pricing a poverty and justice issue.

• Committed the synod's voting members to lead their congregations in planning events that educate the community about poverty and world hunger.

Southwestern Minnesota Synod
June 10-12, St. Peter, Minn.

• Asked the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to support the ELCA Youth Ministry Network; encouraged its congregations to celebrate and support it as well.

• Resolved to generate stronger support for Lutheran Campus Ministry at various colleges in Minnesota; urged the 2011 assembly to support Lutheran Campus Ministry across the ELCA.

• Memorialized the 2011 assembly to create programs to help eliminate bullying and harassment.

• Encouraged congregations to spread an understanding of the devastation of war and promote peacemaking.

• Rejected a memorial to the 2011 assembly that would have asked to limit the backing of the social statement "Genetics, Faith and Responsibility" and to consider an approach to social statements that is more representative of the ELCA as a whole.

Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod
June 6-18, California, Pa.

• Encouraged its congregations and individuals to give generously to the ELCA Special Needs Retirement Fund; asked the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to do the same.

• Called on the church to speak and act to prevent bullying, harassment and related violence by encouraging partnerships that support, educate and offer preventative programs.

Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod
June 17-18, Allentown, Pa.

• Memorialized the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to take an anti-bullying stance and work to stop bullying and harassment.

• Asked the 2011 assembly to encourage congregations to contribute to positive, peaceful Palestinian development rather than boycott or withdraw investment from Israel.

• Urged its members to stop using bottled water in an effort to both save money and the environment because plastic bottles are viewed as an unnecessary source of waste.

Northern Illinois Synod
June 17-18, Rock Island, Ill.

• Memorialized the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to work to prevent and stop bullying and harassment.

• Defeated a resolution to delay acceptance of the proposed social statement on genetics.

• Resolved to celebrate and continue supporting Lutheran Campus Ministry of Illinois.

• Urged its congregations to participate in the ELCA World Hunger program and contribute to ELCA Disaster Response.

Upper Susquehanna Synod
June 17-18, Selinsgrove, Pa.

• Defeated a memorial asking to "exclude approval for the use of human embryonic stem cells in research or treatment" from the proposed social statement on genetics.

• Asked that the 2011 Churchwide Assembly recognize the concerns of retired clergy in regard to reduced pension funds and to urge congregations to donate to the ELCA Special Needs Retirement Fund.

Greater Milwaukee Synod
June 24-26, Milwaukee

• Encouraged support and donations to Lutheran Campus Ministries at universities in Wisconsin; asked the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to provide support for campus ministries churchwide.

• Memorialized the 2011 assembly to promote an end to bullying through prevention and education.


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