The ELCA Church Council called for the development of a social message on gender-based violence when it met Nov. 8-10 in Chicago.
Unlike social statements, which are approved by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, social messages are approved by the council. The proposed message on gender violence is to be ready for consideration at its November 2014 meeting. (This is not to be confused with the 2009 assembly’s call for a social statement on women and justice to be considered by the 2019 assembly.)
A main topic of conversation during the council’s meeting was the five-year, $198 million fundraising campaign, “Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA,” which begins in February. The council asked campaign leaders to provide reports at its April 2014 meeting on the entire campaign, as well as how the churchwide organization will implement and integrate the 2013 assembly’s addition of $8 million ($4 million for youth and young adult ministries and $4 million for disability ministries) to the original $190 million fundraising proposal.
As far as the $8 million, staff in the Congregational and Synodical Mission and Mission Advancement units were directed to consult with the Conference of Bishops and other partners and bring to the council’s April meeting recommendations related to implementation, including budget, staffing, programs and more.
The continuing need to sustain ELCA ministries in the U.S. and around the world despite the trend of declining mission support came through as ELCA Treasurer Linda Norman reported that, although ELCA income was $5.7 million favorable to budget (due in part to underspending and positive investment returns), mission support was down $629,000 from the previous year. However, “we feel good about meeting our expense projections [and] meeting our spending commitments,” she said.
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton discussed the need to repair trust and diminish suspicion that is “prevalent in our culture [and] has seeped into our church.”
Eaton said the church must “find a way to live out [Martin] Luther’s explanation of the eighth commandment and realize we’re all on the same team — Team ELCA. … At the heart of what we do is worship, and the heart of that is Jesus Christ. We are church for the sake of the world. We weren’t redeemed to just think good thoughts of Jesus Christ. We’re supposed to be out there, helping to bring about the abundant life.”
In other action, the council:
• Authorized appointment of a working group to consider the question of ordination of people currently serving on separate rosters as associates in ministry, deaconesses and diaconal ministers who will soon be serving on a unified word and service roster.
• Authorized appointment of a working group to explore ways to encourage conversation and resource-sharing related to changing family configurations and bring recommendations on next steps in pastoral care for same-gender couples and their families.
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