Churchwide Assembly

The ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the primary decision-making body of the church, is a process of communal spiritual discernment. Finding ourselves in Christ, the fifteenth Churchwide Assembly will be a time for us to be the living body of Christ guided by the Spirit and conformed to God’s will.

We will meet at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 5-10, 2019 to discuss and make decisions about how to go about God’s work as a church. This year the assembly will gather under the theme “We are church.” 

When the ELCA Churchwide Assembly convenes, its voting members meet with confidence in God’s grace around word and water, wine and bread, to carry on their work on behalf the entire church. Over the course of the assembly, voting members: 

  • Hear reports and review the work of churchwide officers, leaders and units;
  • Receive and consider proposals from synod assemblies;
  • Elect officers, board members and other leaders as specified by the constitution or bylaws;
  • Establish ELCA churchwide policy;
  • Worship together; 
  • Adopt a budget; and
  • Conduct other business related to the ELCA churchwide organization.

Let me also highlight one of the important responsibilities of the assembly -- the election of the Presiding Bishop and Secretary as well as persons to the Church Council and to churchwide boards and committees. Voting members will receive information regarding nomination and election processes in early 2019.  Please think about gifted people willing to serve this church.

As we prepare ourselves for the 2019 Churchwide Assembly, let’s remember that it is a process of communal spiritual discernment to bring about God’s will for God’s people. Together, we will worship, pray, engage in Bible study, deliberate and conduct business in plenary sessions. 

When members of the assembly participate in and make decisions about the mission and ministry of the ELCA: We are church. We are Lutheran. We are church together. We are church for the sake of the world.

God’s blessings,

Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop



Download the schedule for the ELCA Churchwide Assembly for 2019 here.


Host City

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

After 16 years, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will return to the Midwest city of Milwaukee Wisconsin for the 15th Churchwide Assembly.

“Milwaukee” comes from an Algonquian word meaning “good," “beautiful," “pleasant land” or (appropriately for the assembly,) “gathering place [by the water]."

Milwaukee and Wisconsin have a rich Lutheran heritage. Milwaukee Lutheran High School (LCMS) is the nation’s oldest Lutheran high school. The state has many other Lutheran churches and schools of different denominations; ELCA affiliated Carthage College is just a short drive south of the city in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Our host synod, the Greater Milwaukee Synod, has its office located a few miles southwest of the Wisconsin Center, where the Churchwide Assembly will be held. Located in downtown Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Center is surrounded by various dining and recreational attractions, many which are a quick walk or bike ride away. Couldn’t fit your cycle with your luggage? Bublr Bikes has stations all around the city with bike rentals for as low as $3 for a 30-minute trip. 

The city and surrounding areas had a major influx of European immigrants during the mid-1800’s to early 1900’s, with many of those influences still seen today. The city is known for a wide variety of festivals throughout the year, such as Summerfest, Bastille Days, Festa Italiana, Oktoberfest, and African, Arab, Irish, Mexican, and Native American festivals throughout August and September. In the 1920’s, there was even some mob influences, as famed Chicago mobster Al Capone owned a house in a suburb of Milwaukee. (For a dining experience that mimics the farce of spies and espionage, why not try downtown Milwaukee’s location of The Safehouse? If you don’t know the password, don’t worry…you’ll just need to prove you’re a friendly spy.)

Along with the many historical buildings, Milwaukee boasts a few of the nation’s major breweries, as well as some more popular local ones. Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst, and Miller all called Milwaukee home, though Miller is the only major brewery that remained. Regionally, New Glarus, Leinenkugel, and Sprecher all remain popular around the area. It also was the home to the fictitious Shotz brewery on the television show Laverne and Shirley, a spin-off of the also popular show Happy Days. (On a cool day, why not go to the Milwaukee Riverwalk and visit the “Bronze Fonz” statue? “Eyy!”)

In 2006, Milwaukee was named one of the “Dozen Distinctive Destinations” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.” With a variety of theaters, museums, architecture and various cultural influences, it’s no surprise. We are excited to return to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2019, and hope you will be as well. For more information on the city, please go to



Where will the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly be held?
The 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly will be held in Milwaukee, Wisc., at the 
Wisconsin Center.

When does the Churchwide Assembly begin and end?

The assembly starts with orientation at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, August 5, 2019, and concludes at the close of the plenary session on Saturday, August 10, 2019, at 12:00 p.m.

This is my first time as a Churchwide Assembly voting member. What do I need to know?
You will be receiving emails with information to help you prepare for your role as a voting member. In the weeks leading up to the assembly, you will be invited to become familiar with the preparation material by checking the assembly website at or ELCA Churchwide Assembly Guidebook application, once the app is available.

What is ELCA Guidebook?

The ELCA Churchwide Assembly Guidebook application (also known as ELCA Guidebook) is a mobile app for tablets such as an iPad and commissioned by the churchwide office to replace much of the paper resources of the 2019 Churchwide Assembly. In addition, it is an information source for assembly participants. ELCA Guidebook is accessible by anyone and will have up-to-date information that can be accessed before and during the assembly using any iOS (Apple) or Android tablet with access to the Internet. With the use of ELCA Guidebook at this assembly, all attendees are asked to attend orientation and Guidebook app training on Monday, August 5 beginning at 1:00 p.m.


Do I need to purchase a tablet to access ELCA Guidebook?

No, you do not need to purchase a tablet (e.g. iPad). When registration opens, you will have the option to choose to use an ELCA-issued iPad during the 2019 Churchwide Assembly. More information about the use of ELCA Guidebook will be forthcoming.

When can I register?
Registration will open Spring 2019. Hotel accommodations are made at that time. Please check back on the website ( to register online. Those with limited computer or Internet access will have the option to register over the phone.

When can I make travel arrangements?

Your registration materials explain when and how to make your travel arrangements. If you are a voting or advisory member your travel costs are paid for by the ELCA, but keep in mind that you must make your air travel arrangements through Direct Travel.

I am a voting or advisory member. Can I bring family members with me?
Yes, you are able to bring family members with you. However, the ELCA does not pay for any costs incurred by family members. More information will be forthcoming about how to make travel arrangements, so you can book tickets on the same flight.

I know that voting members and advisory members have their airfare paid by the ELCA, but what if I choose to drive?
Voting and advisory members of the assembly will be reimbursed at the current IRS rate for mileage, along with the cost of tolls and parking, up to the amount of the lowest available advance airfare. More detailed information about the allowed amount for reimbursement will be forthcoming. 

What about meals?
Voting members and advisory members will have their meals paid for by the ELCA during the Churchwide Assembly. Some meals will be provided at the assembly site, and for others you will need to go offsite. Information regarding the purchase of meals for family members at the assembly will be included in your registration materials. Visitors will have the option of purchasing meals in advance of the assembly.

At what hotels are we staying?
Assembly participants and guests will be staying at either the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee or Hilton Milwaukee City Center. Room reservations must be made when completing the online assembly registration process. Please do not contact hotels directly.

Is my hotel room cost paid for by the ELCA?
Voting members and advisory members will have their hotel rooms paid for as long as they share a room with another voting or advisory member. Those who wish to have a private room will be charged one-half of the room rate + tax, per room, per night. Room rate information will be made available in late Summer 2018.

What is a congregation observer, and how do they register?
Each congregation of the ELCA may register one congregation observer for the Churchwide Assembly. Congregation observers will have reserved seating in the observers' section of the plenary hall and will have access to ELCA Guidebook app, as well as materials distributed on the plenary floor to voting members, advisory members and non-voting members during the assembly. Such observers shall have neither voice nor vote in plenary sessions of the assembly. Transportation costs, housing, meals and related expenses shall be the responsibility of the registered observer or the sending congregation. Details on how to register as a congregation observer will be made available in late Summer 2018.

How does one volunteer to help at the churchwide assembly?
We are always grateful for volunteers. You are welcome to send an e-mail to Gail Schroeder, Manager of Meetings and Events, letting her know you are interested in helping. She will make sure you receive information on volunteer opportunities. More information will be available in early spring 2019.