ELCA NEWS SERVICE
August 22, 2009
ELCA Assembly Re-Elects Carlos Peña Vice President
MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) -- Voting members at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly returned to office its incumbent vice president, Carlos Peña of Galveston, Texas. He was elected to a second six-year term on the fourth ballot with 580 votes, 60.8 percent of the votes cast. Sixty percent were required on the fourth ballot.
The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,045 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is “God’s work. Our hands.”
Peña was elected over two other nominees: Ryan M. Schwarz, McLean, Va., received 264 votes and Norma Hirsch, Des Moines, Iowa, received 110 votes. During a question session, Peña described his entry into the Lutheran Church, which happened by accident when he gave a young woman, who later became his wife, a ride to a Lutheran worship service.
In the same session, Schwarz made clear he was disappointed with decisions made by voting members the previous day when they changed the church’s policy to make it possible for people in same-gender relationships to serve as clergy and professional lay workers. “It appears the peripheral has become central,” he declared, adding, “the ELCA must examine its priorities.”
Hirsch, who is a hospice physician, asked for voters’ support by saying, “I’m a doctor. Trust me.” She went on to say, “This church’s vital signs are unsteady but the prognosis is good.”
Peña, 56, is completing his first six-year term as ELCA vice president. A layperson, he currently serves as president of two companies in the Galveston and Houston areas. He has served as the president of his local Lutheran congregation, as vice president of the ELCA Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod and as a member of the ELCA Church Council. His task as vice president of the 4.6 million member denomination is to chair meetings of the Church Council.
Responding to his re-election, Peña said, “I’ve been incredibly blessed. This is a call from God. Thank you. I’m going to need your prayers.”
Information about the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at http://www.elca.org/assembly/ on the Web.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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