Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson hosted a "Town Hall Forum" on Dec. 6, fielding questions on such topics as leadership, mission, evangelism, anti-racism and racial justice matters, funding, churchwide staff reductions and actions of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.
He responded to 19 questions — posed by a live audience and members watching online — during the hour-long forum. Carlos Pena, ELCA vice president, Galveston, Texas, introduced Hanson and posed questions from viewers.
Hanson had said he wanted to use the forum to speak directly to members about priorities for the 4.6 million-member ELCA, look forward and share stories about mission. He also promised to host similar forums in the future.
ELCA Communication Services reported the online video player for the forum was launched 3,148 times, with 2,205 unique viewers. Top viewership was in Minnesota, Illinois and Florida.
The forum was held as some congregations are considering leaving the ELCA or withholding finances as a response to the actions of the assembly on homosexuality issues. He asked members to continue to discuss those actions and include people with differing opinions in the conversations, respect other viewpoints and remain united as the ELCA.
He also addressed congregations that are redirecting or withholding funds to register disagreement with the assembly's actions. "Let me tell you when that line is cut, mission and ministry is diminished throughout the world and throughout this church," Hanson told the audience.
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