Daily rain showers could not dampen the high spirits of the 945 CWA voting members, plus visitors and Grace Gathering attendees who have gathered in New Orleans to attend to the business of the church and celebrate 500 years of reformation.
Old friends are reuniting. Online friends meeting in person for the first time. Beignets are being consumed. And coffee. Lots of coffee.
Debate has been spirited but respectful and voting members are taking their duties seriously, even expressing disappointment when orders of the day kept them from considering further resolutions.
Here are some of the highlights of resolutions passed:
By a vote of 931 to 9, the assembly overwhelmingly accepted the “Declaration on the Way,” a unique ecumenical document that marks a path toward greater unity between Catholics and Lutherans. Considering the centuries-long animosity between Lutherans and Catholics, this is a momentous and historic agreement.
Learn more about Declaration on the Way
By a vote of 811 to 55, approved adoption of the roster of Ministry of Word and Service.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, associates in ministry, deaconesses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and diaconal ministers will be a single, unified roster of Ministry of Word and Service. The accompanying constitutional amendments related to the roster were also considered and approved by the assembly.
Rumors are already flying that this means pastors aren’t going to be pastors. That’s not what it says. For purposes of clarification, in official documents, clergy will be referred to as “Ministers of Word and Sacrament” and diaconal ministers will be referred to as “Ministers of Word and Service”. Pastors will still be called Pastor by their folk.
In another major consideration, the assembly voted 921 to 11 in favor of AMMPARO – the ELCA’s strategy to Accompany Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities.
More information about other actions taken at Assembly can be found here Legislative Updates
As Carlos Peña, retiring Vice President was honored for his service, William B. Horne II of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Clearwater, Florida, was elected.
Bishop Eaton inspired and pumped up the crowd with her report.
Grace Gathering attendees joined voting members for God’s Grace in Action afternoon events like learning about housing issues, racial equality, human trafficking, music, and cuisine.
Those who attended the track FROM THE DOCTRINE OF DISCOVERY TO #BlackLivesMatter were surprised with a visit from Jesse Jackson. His appearance was arranged by African Descent Lutheran Association.
Just when both voting members and Grace Gathering attendees thought it couldn’t get any better, they were treated to an amazing talk by Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee. She spoke on what the Reformation means in the world today. She made the connection between Martin Luther’s outrage over the corruption and injustice he encountered in the church that sparked the reformation. She encouraged us to get angry about injustice but then take the next step and take action to confront evil and injustice in the world.
If there was a theme of the week it was that we need to take on injustice and have hard conversations.
Bishop Eaton gave pastors permission to blame her if congregations give them pushback for addressing racial injustice. She also told lay people to back up their pastors when they do that. Leyma Gbowee encouraged us to be troublemakers. “They called me a troublemaker but I remind them that I won a Nobel Peace Prize!”