While the Churchwide Assembly met inside the Minneapolis Convention Center, many people followed along via live video stream at www.elca.org and the social networking service Twitter.
A “tweet” on Twitter is like sending a postcard: it’s short, anyone can read it and it can be “stamped” from a specific location. Assembly Tweeters stamped posts with #CWA09.
While voting members prayed and debated, Tweeters nationwide offered arguments and prayers about the issues. And despite the ban on smartphones and laptops within the plenary hall, some voting members and visitors did send 140-character dispatches from the assembly or during breaks.
Matthew A. Cleaver, Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod, followed the assembly as a voting member and via Twitter, where he said: “Debate online stayed fairly civil, at least as online conversations go. The tenor of conversation online is definitely more accusatory and pointed than in our plenary and face-to-face discussions.”
Kate Murray, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church, Clinton, Md., attended the assembly as a visitor and participant in the ELCA Young Rostered Leaders Conference that was held simultaneously. She noted that because Twittter isn’t moderated or filtered the conversation included “comments that wouldn’t have been allowed” on the assembly floor. But that unfiltered nature “reflects the real hurt and joy of the church,” she said. “We need to pay attention to that.”
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