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Assemblies discuss pensions, sexuality decisions

Eight synod assemblies met in April, with the sexuality decisions from the 2009 Churchwide Assembly still a topic. In all synods, resolutions to ask the next Churchwide Assembly to rescind the decisions failed. Augsburg Fortress retirees who lost pension benefits were also a concern, as was the Board of Pensions' Participating Annuity and Bridge Fund.

Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast
April 16-18, New Orleans

• Approved financially supporting the Lutheran chaplain at the Port of Houston.

• Asked synod congregations, administrative offices and outdoor ministry facilities to witness to energy stewardship, share with the synod green team what steps they took and memorialize the ELCA to challenge all expressions of the church to reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5 percent per year, with the ultimate goal of reducing emissions 25 to 40 percent by 2020.

Eastern North Dakota
April 17-18, Jamestown, N.D.

• Adopted and commended to congregations compensation and benefit guidelines for rostered leaders.


Bruce Falksen, pastor of Glendorado
Bruce Falksen, pastor of Glendorado and Good Shepherd Lutheran churches, Princeton, Minn., works on a shed built by the Southwestern Minnesota Synod assembly as a servant project. The shed will be transported to a Habitat for Humanity home.

Southwestern Minnesota
April 18-19, Redwood Falls, Minn.

• Expressed concern about the drop in recipient benefits from the Board of Pensions' Participating Annuity and Bridge Fund.

Alaska
April 22-24, Anchorage

• Resolved to bring the synod in line with the Churchwide Assembly's decisions regarding human sexuality and asked members to pray for those with differing viewpoints on the issue.

• Encouraged congregations to affirm the Charter for Compassion.

Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana
April 23-25, Amarillo, Texas

• Referred to synod council an amendment to the "Mission 2010 Strategy" that proposed decreasing synod funding to churchwide by 6.3 percent ($40,500).

Northeastern Minnesota
April 23-25, Brainerd, Minn.

• Adopted "Advocate to Stop Usury," which calls on members to learn about predatory lending abuses, condemns interest rates that exceed 36 percent and urges Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in Minnesota to advocate with congregational members for legislation that prohibits usurious practices with regulation that limits interest charges in Minnesota to not more than 36 percent (annualized percentage rate).

• Urged congregations to work toward a greener church; teach heritage practices such as quilting, gardening, canning and fishing; and become aware of habitat on their properties and use them to have a positive impact on the environment.

Minneapolis Area
April 24, Prior Lake, Minn.

• Asked the ELCA Church Council to — in keeping with stated policy to provide "adequate pension and health benefits" — seek means of funding the pension accounts of retirees and past and present employees who were promised annuity benefits through the recently terminated Augsburg Fortress, Publishers defined-benefit pension plan.

• Asked the Church Council to urge the Board of Pensions to separate the Annuity and Bridge Fund into two separate funds and manage the Annuity Fund in a more conservative and less risky way so in the future it won't encounter the loss experienced in the recent recession.

Eastern Washington-Idaho

April 23-25, Boise, Idaho

• Endorsed the Clergy Letter Project, urging public school leaders to preserve the integrity of science curriculum by affirming the theory of evolution as a core component, and young people in faith communities to recognize that conversations in science and religion remain two different but complementary forms for understanding truth.

• Deleted a bylaw from its constitution that says the bishop may be re-elected once, which limited the years in office to 12.


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