Churchwide Assembly reflections and photos from GCS reps
Mike Johnson Reflections
The Milwaukee Synod did a wonderful job hosting us. Over 900 voting men and women came together. 16% were under 30, a great cross section of the ELCA. Many children were also present, and seeing women pastors carrying their babies on their backs brought a smile to my face.
Walking from one end to the other end of the convention center, bottom floor to top floor was what we needed to stretch our legs, get our blood pumping and fill our lungs with fresh air. If this was the plan, it worked.
It was great listening and talking with people from all over the country as they thought through the decisions we were about to make from Bishop to Sanctuary Church, Black Thursday, and a march to the local ICE office. I found that we spoke the same language, “LOVE”. And we still have a lot of work to do. It all starts with our apostolic action.
Our leadership did a very good job of bringing before the 900+ men and women the work the Church is doing NOW and what needs to be done going forward. Bishop Eaton is a leader of people and it showed. Bishop Hutterer kept her flock close and her leadership is outstanding. We celebrated 50 years of female ordination, 40 of women of color and 10 years of ordination of LGBTQ++. Time has showed that ordaining women was correct. The women deacons are also impressive. The ELCA is making the correct decisions.
Thank you Grand Canyon Synod for electing me to vote on the issues of our Lutheran Christian Church. We are a church for the world.
Pastor David Brandfass Reflections
Thank you for allowing me to serve as a voting member at the Churchwide Assembly (CWA) recently held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where a billboard proclaimed Milwaukee as “The city built on beer.”
More than a city’s adopted slogan, I will forever remember seeing something that I may never see again in my lifetime. At the reception of the “Inter-Religious Commitment” statement, fifty religious leaders representing just about every major religious tradition stood on the stage with Bishop Eaton and the team responsible for drafting the Inter-Religious Commitment statement. These religious leaders were from all around the world, and they made the effort to be present at our assembly to affirm the work of this church and our common vision for healthy inter-religious dialog. In a world where fear often seems to reign, this was an inexpressible witness that humankind can live in peace, and that the ELCA is helping to lead the way.
The make-up of the assembly was different from what many of us experience as the body of Christ gathered in worship throughout the Grand Canyon Synod. It was refreshing to see that the CWA was younger, and much more gender and racially diverse than what we typically see in our pews. If you think the ELCA is dying, this assembly was a powerful witness that it is not. We have a lot of work to do, for sure, but there are plenty of vibrant voices ready to do the work. Simply put, it was uplifting to hear so many varied voices passionate about being church together.
First, I want to thank God for leading me in the right direction. I also want to thank Marissa Metevellis for nominating me, the Grand Canyon Synod and everyone who voted for me. I have had my eyes opened by recent world events and was very excited to be a part of this year’s ELCA Churchwide Assembly. I have never been to an assembly before and found it to be quite informative, emotional and thoroughly uplifting. I could feel the Holy Spirit during the church services like I have never felt before. We heard sermons and talks from ELCA members and others from literally all over the world. I met President Pierre Adama Faye of our sister Synod from Senegal and pastors from Indiana, Massachusetts and Chicago, to name a few. We were moved when we apologized to people of African descent and the Jewish community for our sins of omission as we stood by letting evil take the lead in our history. We also heard moving statements from the LGBQTIA+ members and their struggles through the decades.
Among the many moments was reelecting our presiding Bishop Eaton on the first ballot and our approval for becoming a sanctuary church. We heard several speeches and voted overwhelmingly to become such a church. I participated in the march and it, too, was an uplifting and emotional event. We made local and national news and I am looking forward to the next steps in this journey of our church.
We joyfully started the 50/40/10 year of celebrating the 50-year anniversary of women becoming ordained in our church. We will also celebrate the 40-year anniversary of people of African descent becoming ordained and the 10-year anniversary of members of the LGBTQIAI++ being allowed to becoming ordained. It will be an awesome year for ELCA!