Recap of the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly
Voting members at the 2013 Churchwide
The 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly — the highest legislative authority of this church — met Aug. 12-17 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. Here is a short recap of actions taken by the 952 voting members of the assembly:
Elizabeth Eaton elected ELCA presiding bishop
Elizabeth A. Eaton, bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod, was elected ELCA presiding bishop. Out of the 889 votes cast, 445 were needed for election. Bishop Eaton received 600 votes and the incumbent, Mark A. Hanson, received 287.
New ELCA secretary
On the fifth ballot, Wm. Chris Boerger was elected ELCA secretary with a vote of 489 to 376. There were 867 votes cast. Boerger, former bishop of the ELCA Northwest Washington Synod and a member of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Snohomish, Wash., was installed as secretary of the ELCA Aug. 17 during the assembly’s closing worship.
Approval of the social statement on criminal justice
Voting members adopted “The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries,” a social statement on criminal justice, and they approved a series of implementing recommendations. Among the recommendations, this church is called to: “encourage ELCA congregations to consider becoming sites of ministry and action for the incarcerated and their families.” Also among the recommendations was a call to: “encourage ELCA congregations to work with victims, victim advocates and victim support organizations to grow in sensitivity and response to the harm caused by crime and to grow in awareness to restorative justice practices.”
Holy Communion, immigration among proposal topics considered
The assembly approved a proposal designed to invite this church, its congregations, synods and the churchwide organization into conversation and study regarding the “Use of the Means of Grace” — a statement on the practice of word and sacrament.
Separately, voting members moved to call on ELCA members to advocate for the adoption of comprehensive immigration reform consistent with an ELCA message of immigration and with guidance from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services based in Baltimore.
Approval of the ELCA’s first major fundraising campaign
Voting members approved a proposal for this church’s first major fundraising campaign to begin in 2014. The five-year campaign is designed to increase this church’s capacity to renew and start new congregations, educate and develop its leaders, bolster its global mission efforts and expand the impact of its relief and development work. In its consideration of the proposal, voting members approved two more campaign initiatives — encouraging and forming lay youth and young adult leaders and support for disability ministry.
“God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday
Donning the bright, gold T-shirt designed especially for the day of service, Presiding Bishop Hanson told the assembly, “As we continue to celebrate our 25th anniversary year as the ELCA, we have a unique opportunity to recognize and celebrate how we are one church, freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor. On ‘God’s work. Our hands.’ Sunday — Sept. 8 — we’ll have a dedicated day of service to do just that, together as 4 million baptized believers in nearly 10,000 congregations, 65 synods and the churchwide expression.”
Mark Hanson, David Swartling receive Servus Dei Medals
Both Mark Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop and David Swartling, ELCA secretary, received the Servus Dei Medal, which honors officers of the ELCA at the completion of their terms. The presentation of the medal continues a tradition begun among the ELCA’s predecessor church bodies.
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