This week ELCA members from around the country gathered in Milwaukee for the 2019 Churchwide Assembly.


The event began Monday afternoon with opening worship.  The first plenary session was held that evening where the first ballot was taken for election of the Presiding Bishop.  The next morning that ballot was declared invalid due to an earlier invalid vote on bylaws.

Another vote was taken, and Bishop Elizabeth Eaton was re-elected to a second six-year term.

She is the first Presiding Bishop in the ELCA to be re-elected on the first ballot.

Other highlights

Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld introduced Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Lutheran Call to Action

Rev. Lamont Wells

Rev. Chris Boerger and DeDe Boerger

  •   Rev. Chris Boerger, who is retiring as Secretary of the ELCA, was honored for his work. He was gifted with a hymn “No Greater Well”, set to the tune of “Praise to the Lord”, (ELW 858) a hymn which was sung at nearly every event in Secretary Boerger’s life, including his wedding and ordination


9.5 Thesis I Was A Stranger and You Welcomed Me

 On Wednesday more than 700 of those attending the Assembly walked about a mile from the Wisconsin Center to Milwaukee USCIS Office for a prayer vigil.

 At the vigil, these 9.5 Thesis (Inspired by Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis), written by the Greater Milwaukee Synod Refugee and Immigration Committee was presented

1. When our Lord Jesus said, “Repent” (Matthew 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance. (95 Thesis #1) We repent of our silence, indifference, and lack of courage as our nation separates immigrant families, inflicts misery on migrant children and turns away refugees.


2. Christians are to be taught that a person who welcomes the immigrant stranger with compassion and an open heart has opened their heart not only to the stranger but to Christ. (Matthew 25:35)


3. Christians do well to remember that God’s love, mercy, and grace extend equally to all peoples from every nation and place on earth. (Revelation 7:9)


4. Christians do well to remember their own ancestral journeys as they consider the harsh journeys of immigrants in our day. “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:19)


5. Christians are to be taught that immigration laws and policies are to be measured against the higher law of love. “For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)


6. Christians do well to welcome immigrants and refugees equally as citizens and members of God’s people. “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen who is among you.” (Leviticus 19:34)


7. Preaching and Teaching the Gospel Way of Jesus must include condemnation of human cruelties and injustices. “Away then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, ‘Peace, peace, when there is no peace.’ (Jeremiah 6:14) (95 Thesis #92)


8. Christians are to be taught when the laws of our government violate our faith and violate our conscience “We must obey God, rather than any human authority.” (Acts 5:29)


9.5 We firmly believe that the treatment of children and families at our border is a moral issue, not a political one. The well-being and safety of children, including ensuring family unity and reunification, must be a priority. Therefore, we commit ourselves to an ongoing struggle for just immigration policies


The Assembly ends Saturday afternoon.

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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.