The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Synod assemblies discuss variety of concerns

Bishops of Pacifica and Northwestern Ohio synods re-elected

Sexuality decisions from the 2009 Churchwide Assembly continued to be a topic as synod assemblies met in May. Other resolutions included the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, Augsburg Fortress employees who lost pension benefits, state policies against predatory lending and other usurious lending practices, and environmentally friendly ministry practices in congregations, synods and organizations. Two bishops were re-elected.

Western Iowa

David Kern<BR><BR>Angel puppets from
Angel puppets from In the Heart of the Beast Theater make an appearance during worship at the St. Paul Area Synod assembly in May.

May 1-2, Sioux City, Iowa

• Urged the ELCA to return to 1990 "Vision & Expectations" guidelines, which precluded rostered leaders in same-sex relationships.

• Approved a resolution of unity in Christ to uphold each other as synod members "through prayer, speech [and] gracious and respectful interaction."

• Encouraged congregational prayer and financial support for campus ministry at Waldorf College, Forest City, Iowa, through the Waldorf Foundation. Asked ELCA Vocation and Education to continue recognizing the school, which was sold to a for-profit group, as a historically Lutheran college.

• Directed its council to authorize efforts to help fund an ELCA chaplain at the University of Iowa hospitals in Iowa City.

Pacifica Synod
May 6-8, San Diego

• Urged its congregations to learn about and participate in the Lutheran Malaria Initiative.

• Gave thanks for the ministries of those terminating their relationship with the ELCA, committed to seeking new ways of partnering with those who have left, "embrace[d] with joy those who now perceive the heart of the church open to them as full partners in ministry," and resolved to move "forward in ministry in the name of Jesus."

Southeastern Pennsylvania
May 7-8, Telford, Pa.

• Approved having two youth and two young adult representatives on its 32-member synod council.

• Expressed appreciation for workers doing archaeological excavation work at the Henry Melchior Muhlenberg House.

Southeastern Minnesota

May 7-8, Rochester, Minn.

• Asked the ELCA to investigate issues relating to the termination of the Augsburg Fortress pension plan.

• Urged a change in the ratification procedure for social statements.

• Called for a proper use of God's name in public.

• Endorsed speaking out against predatory lending.

New Jersey
May 7-8, East Brunswick, N.J.

• Called for an end to childhood hunger by working with legislators; asked the governor to reinstate funding for school breakfast and lunch programs.

Metropolitan Washington, D.C.
May 7-8, Landsdowne, Va.

• Asked the 2013 Churchwide Assembly to report on the status of the implementing resolutions of the social statement "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust."

• Encouraged its bishop and others to implement "structured flexibility" in candidacy and call processes and integrate fully qualified candidates and pastors who are in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.

• Called on congregations and members to read and discuss the Kairos Palestine document, and seek ways to achieve understanding and work for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

• Encouraged full participation in the stewardship of energy, including asking congregations to establish creation care teams.

Northwestern Ohio
May 13-15, Bowling Green, Ohio

• Defeated resolutions asking the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to rescind 2009 actions related to allowing congregations to call clergy in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships; for such candidates to be banned from the synod; and that would have allowed congregations with a "conscience-bound conflict" to be rostered in the ELCA as well as other Lutheran churches.

Northwest Washington

May 14-15, Everett, Wash.

• Authorized a feasibility test of a capital fund drive for $4 million, with proceeds used for starting ministries or supporting transformational ministry projects and for reducing student debt.

Metropolitan New York
May 14-15, Tarrytown, N.Y.

• Requested that the ELCA Church Council retain an external agency to consult with the ELCA Board of Pensions regarding the reasons for and the implications of decisions made about the Participating Annuity and Bridge Fund and alternative ways to restore fund losses. (See "Feeling it: ELCA retirees cope with pension losses") Also asked that the ELCA Special Needs Retirement Fund be expanded, and for the Church Council to ensure reconsideration of the actions taken by the pension board.

• Urged congregations to welcome those with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

• Encouraged full implementation of the ELCA social statement on human sexuality, its implementing resolutions, and the Church Council 's actions to amend ELCA ministry policies.

Northwestern Minnesota

Paul Heykes<BR><BR>Andrea DeGroot-Nesdahl
Andrea DeGroot-Nesdahl (left), coordinator for the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, presents initiative T-shirts to Bishop Duane Pederson (center) of the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin and to Bishop James Justman of the East-Central Synod of Wisconsin. This is the first time the synods met jointly for their assemblies.

May 14-15, Moorhead, Minn.

• Asked the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to, in selecting voting members for synod and churchwide assemblies, include rostered lay leaders along with ordained pastors.

• Advocated for state public policies that reduce predatory lending and other usurious lending practices.

• Challenged congregations to give at least 10 percent of their income for synod/churchwide mission support.

• Affirmed direct congregational giving to Lutheran Campus Ministry of Minnesota sites in Bemidji and Moorhead.

• Defeated resolutions that would have called for "ratification by all ELCA congregations of certain Churchwide Assembly actions."

Northern Great Lakes
May 16-18, Hancock, Mich.

• Celebrated the ministry of Faith Lutheran, White Pines, a church destroyed by fire that continued its ministry by giving its insurance settlement to Fortune Lake Bible Camp, Lutheran Social Services , the synod and area congregations, and to establishing a seminary scholarship.

Southern Ohio
Springfield, Ohio, May 21.

• Learned about the impact malaria has on children and pregnant women in Third World countries, especially Africa, and that mosquito bed nets can prevent the disease. Donated $1,415 to the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, along with $450 raised by selling T-shirts, to buy 186 mosquito nets for the initiative.

East-Central Synod of Wisconsin
May 21-22, Stevens Point, Wis.

• Asked its council to establish a mission team for companion synod and global mission relationships, and encouraged congregations to increase their participation in these relationships.

• Defeated asking the Churchwide Assembly to repeal 2009 decisions related to sexuality.

Northwest Synod of Wisconsin
May 21-22, Stevens Point, Wis.

• Participated in the "Nothing But Nets" basketball challenge to create awareness for the Lutheran Malaria Initiative.

Southeastern Iowa
May 21-22, West Des Moines, Iowa.

• Were reminded to live out the assembly theme "Their Eyes Were Fixed on Jesus" despite disagreements in the church.


April 30-May 2, Orlando, Fla.

• Launched a "Together in Mission" capital campaign to raise $2 million over the next three years for congregations and leaders of the synod "to grow Christ's church in our time and place," and $500,000 to support growth and mission of the Lutheran Church of Haiti.

• Defeated a resolution calling for congregational referendums on future ELCA social statements.

Southwestern Texas
May 1-2, New Braunfels, Texas

• Adopted resolutions calling for a process to develop a new evangelical mission plan for the synod and to increase mission support giving to churchwide ministries over the next 10 years back to 55 percent.

• Defeated a resolution asking the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to rescind changes to ministries policies that were adopted by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly, as well a resolution calling for a constitutional process whereby each congregation would ratify ministry policy decisions approved by Churchwide Assemblies.


April 30-May 2, Tulsa, Okla.

• Discussed actions that may need to be taken in reducing the budget of the synod due to declining giving.

Southwestern Washington

May 14-15, Vancouver, Wash.

• Passed a resolution to continue to develop and promote the "1,000 Mission Friends" program and increase the number of friends who contribute a gift of at least $100 annually in support of mission starts and congregational renewals in the synod.

• Reported that benevolences from congregations to the synod fell 20 percent in the first quarter of 2010.

Sierra Pacific

May 6-8, Reno, Nev.

• Approved a resolution authorizing establishment of a synod green team to encourage congregations to offer a public witness to energy stewardship.

• Asked its council for a feasibility study on the costs and benefits of synod assemblies being held every other year.

Southeast Michigan
May 20-22, Lansing, Mich.

• Meeting jointly with the North/West Lower Michigan Synod, lunched with state legislators on the lawn of the capitol to advocate for issues of concern to Lutheran Social Services of Michigan.

• Called for a study about strategic investments decisions and their potential to draw the Israeli government "into more credible" peace negotiations with Palestinians.

• Defeated a resolution affirming marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman and restricting weddings in the synod to the same.

Northeastern Ohio
May 14-15, Akron, Ohio

• Adopted a 2011-12 budget more than $320,000 lower than the 2009-10 budget.

• Defeated resolutions asking the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to rescind the human sexuality social statement and revisions to ministry policies that were adopted by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.

St. Paul Area
May 21-22, Burnsville, Minn.

• Resolved to continue taking steps to be a multicultural church.

• Requested its "candidacy committee ... to review the current process to specialized ministry, and make recommendations to its 2011 assembly regarding the option of concurrent parish service, rather than consecutive service ...."

• Urged members and congregations to learn more about, and advocate against, predatory lending abuses.

Rocky Mountain
May 27-29, Denver

• Resolved that congregations and other ministries of the synod commit to addressing environmental issues and reporting progress to a Creation Care team, and will ask the 2011 Churchwide Assembly to summon the rest of the church to do the same.

• Was led by the synod's Lutheran Youth Organization to become a pilot synod for the Lutheran Malaria Initiative. The LYO presented $36,657 to the initiative — funds raised within the last six months.

• Adopted Safe Haven guidelines for children, youth and adults.


May 28-30, Portland.

• Heard David Swartling, ELCA secretary, compare the tumultuous times of the 17th-century church to the current struggles in the ELCA.

Bishop elections


• Murray D. Finck, 61, to a six-year term as bishop of the Pacifica Synod, May 7, on the fourth ballot, with 202 of 335 votes.

• Marcus C. Lohrmann, 59, to a six-year term as bishop of the Northwestern Ohio Synod, May 13, on the first ballot, with 309 of 381 votes.


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February issue


Embracing diversity