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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Civility reigns at assembly

Columns add theological insight

What a difference two years can make. The general unease and tension leading up to and surrounding the 2009 Churchwide Assembly gave way to an overall good feeling at the 2011 gathering in Orlando, Fla. ("Churchwide Assembly looks to future").

There was a noticeable lack of rancor and irritation and a general civility to things this time, said Charles Austin, a retired ELCA pastor and former newspaper reporter who has attended most of the 12 assemblies. "There seemed to be a good bit of trust and none of the 'what-are-you-trying-to-do-to-me?' attitude that sometimes appears," he said. "Farmers and scientists speaking on genetics indicated their satisfaction, and the disagreements were not nasty. Some critical matters were quickly referred by overwhelming votes, another sign of trust."

The LIFT (Living Into the Future Together) report and those of the secretary and treasurer make the facts of declining membership and money clear, Austin added. Take a look at some of the charts in our report and those we've posted online. They will assist local discussions on the situation confronting the ELCA at the congregational, synodical and churchwide levels.


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