The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Synods discuss terrorism, Africa aid

At its June assembly, the Central States Synod renewed its commitment to nonviolence and approved a resolution that protested elements of the U.S. "War on Terrorism" policy, calling for its modification by the government.

"Evil is not overcome by our own evil acts. Our military response has caused thousands of deaths, several thousands of [which] are innocent noncombatants," the resolution stated. "Our military tribunals will short-circuit a true judicial system, taking terrorism out of world courts where it must be to effectively control it." The synod asked the ELCA to also oppose the policy. In a second resolution, the synod encouraged members to study nonviolence and Islamic religion and culture.

In other actions,Central States voting members asked the ELCA Church Council and Conference of Bishops to consider amending the "on leave from call" policy to allow ordained pastors who take family leave to remain on the roster for up to six years.

The synod approved two resolutions urging congregations to support pro-life ministries, asking congregations to review the ELCA social statement on abortion, and calling for a workshop on the abortion issue at the 2003 Churchwide Assembly.

The Central States and South Dakota synods granted voice and vote at assemblies to ordained pastors from ELCA full communion partner churches who serve ELCA congregations within the synod.

Citing increased burnout, the South Dakota Synod voted to study working hour expectations for church leaders and employees. It will present to its 2003 assembly a proposal on working hours, self-care and "practice of Sabbath" by staff.

The synod sent a memorial to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly asking that "changes regarding the blessing of same-sex unions and/or regarding ordination of noncelibate gay and lesbian persons" would not take effect "unless a majority of congregations vote to approve them."

The Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod urged congregations to study resources on "moral and ethical Christian responses to terrorism and global violence." It sent a message asking President Bush to use utmost restraint in further military action against Iraq or any other Muslim nation. The synod also passed a resolution requiring church youth workers to undergo law enforcement background checks and to attend a healthy boundaries/relationships course.

The Southwestern Texas Synod established a council to coordinate ministry with and among Latinos. The synod also voted to endorse congregations committed to living wage compensation for all part- and full-time church employees, based on community standards.

The Northwestern Ohio Synod postponed action on an affirmation of welcome to gay and lesbian people until its 2005 assembly.

The Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod held a memorial service for synod vice president Stanley Griegg, who suffered a heart attack while preparing to attend an assembly worship service. Griegg, a member of Grace Lutheran Church, Washington, D.C., was a former U.S. congressman from Iowa and served as deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee from 1970 to 1972. Police also asked him on June 17, 1972, to help identify a lineup of five burglars caught attempting to break into party headquarters at the Watergate hotel.

The West Virginia-Western Maryland, Delaware-Maryland, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast and Southwestern Washington synods encouraged greater funding to pay the seminary debts of pastors and seminarians.

Stand With Africa

The Stand With Africa campaign received resolutions of support from the Southwestern Washington, Northwestern Ohio and Southwest California synods. An offering of $65,010 for Stand With Africa was collected at the Southwestern Texas Synod assembly, which also set a goal of $7 per communing member to be contributed annually to the World Hunger Appeal. An offering of quarters from the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin of $25,441 will be split between Stand With Africa and hunger relief in Malawi.

The Southeastern Iowa Synod memorialized the ELCA to create a churchwide staff position "to develop faith and science resources, especially for congregational use, and represent faith and science concerns" in the ELCA.

TheSouthwestern Pennsylvania Synod pledged support to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and the Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod encouraged members to pray for all immigrants, ask elected leaders to support refugee resettlement, and invite refugees to participate in their congregations' worship life.

Voting members in the Alaska Synod shared their faith stories on videotape, with copies to be mailed to every synod congregation.

The Caribbean Synod did not meet in business session this year.


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