(Republished from the ELCA News Service for availability from the SZS News Archive)
CHICAGO (ELCA) — Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will gather Aug. 12-17, 2013, in assembly at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. The 4-million-member ELCA is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year under the theme “Always being made new,” which serves as the theme for the ELCA Churchwide Assembly — the highest legislative authority of this church.
Underscoring the ELCA’s commitment “to care for creation” all assembly materials will be available electronically to the 952 voting members. Nearly all voting members will be using iPads equipped with an ELCA Guidebook application that contains materials to conduct business, saving an estimated 500,000 pages of paper. ELCA members and others not attending the assembly can access live video of plenary sessions at http://www.ELCA.org/assembly. An assembly schedule, the Pre-Assembly Report and other resources are also available at this site.
Two key action items at the assembly include the elections for an ELCA presiding bishop and ELCA secretary. Prior to the election, members are asked to consider the document “A Conversation Regarding the Election of Churchwide Officers” which encourages conversation and discernment relating to the election of the two six-year term positions.
Voting members will also consider:
+ “The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries” — a proposed social statement on criminal justice with supporting implementing resolutions. Social statements are teaching documents that assist members in their discernment about social issues, set policy for this church and guide its advocacy and work in the public arena.
+ A proposal for the ELCA’s first major fundraising campaign. If approved the five-year campaign, to begin in 2014, 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.
+ Proposals (known as memorials) from the ELCA’s 65 synods include topics such as gender identity discrimination, the Uniting American Families Act, community violence, ministering to same-gender couples and their families, immigration reform, hydraulic fracturing, and the Middle East.
+ Budget proposals for 2014 to 2016
+The Book of Faith initiative as a continuing emphasis and priority in this church. The assembly will also consider other action items.
During plenary sessions, voting members will receive:
+ A new ELCA message on mental illness. The ELCA Church Council adopted “The Body of Christ and Mental Illness” in November 2012.
+ A report and recommendations of the ELCA Addressing Social Concerns Review Task Force commissioned by the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to review ways in which ELCA members address social concerns.
+ A report on the implementation of the ELCA social statement “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” adopted by the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.
+ Greetings from Christian, Jewish, Sikh leaders and others.
The 2013 assembly will also receive an update on the ELCA Malaria Campaign; learn more about the observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation; participate in a series of hearings about mission planning, healthcare reform, world hunger, women and justice and more.
Along with voting members, hundreds more people will participate in the assembly as ELCA congregational observers, special ecumenical guests and global leaders, presidents of the eight ELCA seminaries and 26 college and universities, advisory and resource members, staff and others. The ELCA’s 65 synods elect voting members to serve at churchwide assemblies.