This assembly report was prepared by Charles Austin, Elizabeth Hunter, Kathleen Kastilahn, Daniel J. Lehmann, Julie B. Sevig and Sonia C. Solomonson.
Some 1,069 voting members from across the nation and Caribbean gathered in the muggy heat of Chicago Aug. 6-11 to mark the 10th biennial ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
The denomination’s top decision-making body elected a trial attorney from Seattle, David D. Swartling, as ELCA secretary. He succeeds the retiring Lowell G. Almen, who held the post throughout the ELCA’s 20-year history.
It also gave Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson a resounding victory for a second, six-year term as head of the 4.8 million-member ELCA.
The assembly was much less united on the issue of homosexuality. It upheld ELCA policy while waiting for a human sexuality statement to be released at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis. Leaders were urged, however, to refrain from disciplining congregations or pastors over such issues.
Eucharistic worship provided an intentional break each day of the assembly, along with daily Bible study and intermittent reflections called “dwelling in the word.” Celebration was everywhere, from the pre-assembly Worship Jubilee to the young adult leaders gathering and youth convocation to the gala dinner marking the 20th anniversary of the ELCA.
Who were these voting members? Elected to serve by their synods, the decision-makers consisted of 662 lay and 407 ordained leaders, of which 125 were people of color or whose first language is other than English.
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