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ELCA 2016 Churchwide Assembly Reflection by Bishop Bartholomew

On August 8 – 14, sixteen voting members from across the NJ Synod joined almost one thousand other voting members in our Churchwide Assembly (CWA). Held in New Orleans, we spent the week worshiping, listening to reports of the work we do together, meeting sisters and brothers in Christ from all over the world, celebrating historic milestones, and rejoicing in being part of a church that makes a positive difference in this world. We elected William Horne (Fla-Bahamas Synod) as Vice-President. You can find videos of the plenary sessions and worship by clicking here. Over the next several weeks, we will feature reflections from those who attended the CWA so that you can get an assortment of perspectives on how we are church together.

Let me highlight just a few of the many assembly actions we adopted:

Declaration on the Way, a collection of 32 statements which are no longer church dividing between the ELCA and the Roman Catholic Church in the areas of church, ministry, and Eucharist.

AAMPARO, a strategy for walking with and welcoming unaccompanied minors fleeing violence and danger in Central America.

Recommendation to unify the rosters of Associates in Ministry, Diaconal Ministers and Deaconesses to form one roster of Ministers of Word and Service, who will be called Deacons.

Called Forward Together in Christ process for setting future directions for this church.

Memorials that call us to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery, positively invest in companies doing business in

Palestine and asking for the US not to block Palestine’s application in the United Nations, acknowledge the gifts of African-descent Lutherans in the 500th anniversary of the reformation and full-inclusion in the life of this church today, advocacy with fossil fuel companies to invest in strategies of renewable energy sources, support for our returning veterans and their families, and many others found on the ELCA website.

Resolutions that ask synods to hold anti-racism training every two years, re-examine the call process, and review the constitutional prohibition for compensating the churchwide vice-president.

It is hard to put into just a couple of paragraphs the entirety of this churchwide experience. It was a time to celebrate being church with a spirit of joy. As our presiding bishop, Elizabeth Eaton said, “this church is not dying, it is changing”. This is most certainly true!

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