Commission for Multicultural Ministries steering committee. Chicago, March 12-13.
* Asked Fred Rajan, CMM executive director, to report to the next meeting on ELCA ordained and lay leadership from the five ethnic communities. The committee discussed the upcoming retirement of several of the communities' leaders and sought ways to bring more people into leadership positions.
* Questioned the size of ELCA reserve funds. Committee members said some of the reserves should be used for work in the five communities so the ELCA can reach the goal of 10 percent of its membership being from those communities.
Division for Church in Society board. Chicago, March 11-13.
* Approved sending the social statement on economic life, "Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All," to the 1999 Churchwide Assembly for action.
* Reviewed the introduction and DCS report on homosexuality for presentation to the 1999 Churchwide Assembly.
* Recommended that the ELCA support "The Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for Children of the World."
* Asked the Churchwide Assembly to approve the "Women and Children Living in Poverty Strategy."
Division for Ministry board. Chicago, March 11-14.
* Heard a panel discussion on whether the ELCA should admit non-celibate gays and lesbians to its ministry rosters.
* Adopted a report that says the division "is not proposing a change in the standards" that preclude "practicing homosexuals from the ordained ministry of this church. ... However the division is committed to a process of continuing study, personal reflection and conversation on the ... dimensions that would be involved" in continuing or changing the ELCA's present policy. The document says some believe the ELCA must find a common understanding on same-sex unions before addressing the roster question.
* Directed the unit to invite representatives from churches with which the ELCA shares full communion to share with the board their policies regarding rostering gays and lesbians.
Division for Outreach board. Lisle, Ill., March 11-13.
* Discussed "Congregational Ministry with Gay and Lesbian People," part of a report to the 1999 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The report, requested by the 1997 assembly, recommends that the unit "develop and distribute ... a resource on welcoming gay and lesbian people." It also calls on the unit to include in training events encouragement for congregations to extend hospitality to gays and lesbians and asks for a report to the board in fall 2000.
* Sent to the Church Council a comment on the introduction to the report. The introduction says, "We await a time of clearer understanding" about how the ELCA should relate to homosexuals. The comment says, "We believe ... that God has already spoken that all people are equal in God's reign. Through the eyes of Jesus, there are no distinctions and there is no need to await a clearer understanding in seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit."
The Lutheran advisory committee. Chicago, March 12.
* Developed a process for nominating the editor of The Lutheran. Applications and nominations for the position close June 1. During a June 14 conference call, a subcommittee will develop a list of candidates to interview. The advisory committee will then interview candidates July 12-13, and a name will be presented to the August Churchwide Assembly for election. Named to the subcommittee were Scott Bosley, Bethesda, Md.; Jean LemMon, Des Moines, Iowa; Hazel Reinhardt, Edina, Minn.; and Ken Roberts, Plymouth, Mich.
Division for Global Mission board. Chicago, March 19-21.
* Affirmed the work of the ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan in advocating for a shared Jerusalem and peace with justice in the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.
* Called upon the church to voice solidarity with Christian victims of violence in India and to push for greater religious freedom and human rights there.
* Resolved to help alleviate suffering and solve the crisis in strife-torn Sierra Leone.
Division for Higher Education and Schools board. Chicago, March 12-14..
* Endorsed passage by the U.S. Congress of the Education Savings and School Excellence Act of 1999.
* Encouraged ELCA congregations with early childhood education centers to bring staff salaries and health-care benefits to a "just and fair level."
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