­­Summary: 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly

Resource: St. Mark’s Website
We created a webpage with links to the documents referenced below.  The document referred to most is the Legislative Update from the ELCA. It is a single document which consolidates the updates from each plenary session. In the document the printed page numbers are for the specific plenary session.

Two page numbers are given for each topic. The first is page number for the PDF file, which is relevant only if using the electronic document. The PDF page numbers are not on a printed version. The second page number will help those using a printed version of the Legislative Update find the relevant section.

Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery – PDF Page 4; Printed Page August 9th  (1st session) Page 2 of 4
Passed: 912 to 28. This memorial repudiates the Doctrine of Discovery, a concept in public international law dating back to the early 17th century, under which colonizing powers were given title to lands whose inhabitants were not subjects of European Christian monarchs.

With this memorial the ELCA acknowledges and repents from Lutheran complicity in colonialism, and recommends actions for continued improvements in our ministries to Native American and Alaska Native peoples, electing to practice accompaniment with native peoples instead of a missionary endeavor to them.

Memorials passed En Bloc – PDF Page 7; Printed page August 9th (2nd session) Page 1 of 7
The Memorials Committee compiled a set of more than 100 synod memorials from 2013-2016 into a set of 20 memorials which were passed en bloc. Among the memorials passed en bloc are:

·       Life of Faith Initiative
·       Worship Resources to Bless Same Gender Couples
·       Ministries among People Experiencing Economic Poverty
·       Examining the Implications of Becoming a Sanctuary Denomination
·       Gun Violence Prevention
·       ELCA World Hung and Child Nutrition
·       My Muslim Neighbor
·       Gender Identity

A link to the complete report from the Memorials Committee is on the St. Mark’s website referenced above.

Declaration on the Way – PDF Page 17; Printed page August 10th Page 3 of 4
Passed: 931 to 9. The Declaration on the Way is a byproduct of the 2015 Ecumenical tour Pastor Ekdale participated in. This action receives 32 Statements of Agreement identifying issues which are no longer church-dividing issues. A link to more information is available on the St. Mark’s website referenced above.

AMMPARO – PDF Page 17; Printed page August 10th Page 3 of 4
Passed: 921 to 11. AMMPARO is an acronym for Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities. Congregations are urged to advocate for migrant children and their families. The El Salvador group of St. Mark’s is considering how we will engage in light of this initiative. 

Consideration of the Word and Service Proposal – PDF Page 21; Printed page August 12th Page 1 of 14
Passed: 864 to 32. This action unifies three Official rosters of Laypersons (Associates in Ministry, Deaconess of the ELCA, and Diaconal Ministers into a single roster of Ministry of Word and Service effective January 1, 2017

Peace and Justice in the Holy Land – PDF Page 22; Printed page August 12th 2 of 14
Passed: 751 to 162. Along with reaffirming previous commitments, this memorial:
·       Encouraged a call for a new, comprehensive and time-bound agreement resulting in a negotiated final status leading to two viable and secure state with a shared Jerusalem
·       Called on the US Government to require Israel to meet the following in order to continue receiving US financial and military aid:

                        0  comply with internationally-recognized human rights standards,

o   stop settlement building and expansion in East Jerusalem and the West Bank,

o   end the occupation of Palestinian territory, and

o   enable an independent Palestinian state

·       Called for the US President to recognize the State of Palestine and not prevent its application for full membership to the UN

 African Descent Lutherans – PDF Page 24; Printed page August 12th 4 of 14
Passed: 846 to 73. This memorial calls for a wide range of activities to strengthen bonds with African Descent Lutherans including:

·       Assistance from ELCA representation to people of African descent with the observance of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation and the initiatives of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent, including intentional inclusion of Lutherans of African descent;

·       Confessing and repenting the Lutheran church’s complicity in 400 years of enslavement, oppression and marginalization of African descent people and other marginalized populations;

·       Acknowledging with regret the ELCA as an institution has and continues to contribute to racial harassment and discrimination;

·       Requesting the Domestic Mission unit create a “Declaration of the ELCA to the African Descent Community” with recommendations of how to include the declaration in ELCA’s governing documents;

·       Urging ELCA academic institutions to recognize and dismantle white hegemony through academic exploration of Black Liberation Theology and Womanist Theologians;

·       Reaffirming previous commitments and calls to action supporting ethnic-specific communities

Welcoming Refugees – PDF Page 26; Printed page August 12th 6 of 14
Passed: 842 to 48. This memorial affirms the ELCA’s position welcoming refugees including:

·       Calling on Congressional and state legislators to open their hearts to the suffering of refugees and support legislative actions to welcome them;

·       Requesting the presiding bishop communicate the church’s commitment to resettling refugees in the US;

·       Encouraging all Lutherans to welcome refugees;

·       Making available resource materials for congregations to learn about and take part in ministries with refugees.

Resolution of Racial Justice – PDF Page 30; Printed page August 12th 10 of 14
Passed (Vote by Card)
Resolved to strongly encourage all rostered leaders to receive anti-racism training and for every synod to develop or maintain resources for anti-racism training for rostered leaders and congregations at least every two years.

Resolution for a Strategy Toward Authentic Diversity – PDF Page 30; Printed page August 12th 10 of 14
Referred to Church Council via vote by card

This resolution forms, staffs and funds a task force to develop a set of strategies to equip congregations and synods to work toward becoming more authentically diverse. The ELCA Church Council will consider this resolution.

Resolution Urging Stewardship of the Gift of Water – PDF Page 31; Printed page August 12th 11 of 14
Passed (Vote by Card)
This resolution requests:

·       Resources encouraging and supporting conservation and prayerful stewardship of water resources be made available to congregations and individual members;

·       Strategies and resources supporting areas struggling with disasters that impact access to clean water;

·       Congregations plan events utilizing biblical themes of renewal and liberations that water affords.

Resolution on Gender Identity – PDF Page 32; Printed page August 12th 12 of 14
Referred to Church Council via vote by card
This resolution requests that event registrations and other forms:

·       Include options for transgender, non-binary and/or gender non-conforming people;

·       Asks for preferred pronouns; and

·       Includes a gender neutral option when asking for honorific or title.

The ELCA Church Council will consider this resolution.

Toward a Responsible Energy Future – PDF Page 35; Printed page August 13th 1 of 10
Passed (Vote by Card)
This memorial:

·       Urges ELCA members and institutions to:

o   inform and educate themselves about the effect of climate change through the lens of the “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice” social statement;

o   advocate for policies that reduce energy use and dependence on fossil fuels;.

o   encourage development of renewable energy sources.

·       Affirms the actions of the 2013 Churchwide Assembly and the Church Council related to the development of investment screens on fossil fuels.

·       Commends members and institutions to invest in companies taking steps toward a sustainable environment.

·       Affirms Portico’s approach to support these principles and directives using:

o   Shareholder advocacy;

o   Investment screening identifying 113 companies screened for environmental reasons, and

o   Ramping up positive social investments;

·       Calls upon Portico to evaluate the viability of an optional fossil-free fund for retirement plans;

·       Calls upon the ELCA to heed the Lutheran World Federation Council’s request that the ELCA review its social teachings and Corporate Social Responsibility policies with the goal of not investing in and removing the largest fossil fuel companies and investing in corporations which are taking steps toward a sustainable environment;

·       Supports programs to:

o   Address unemployment caused by changing patterns of fossil fuel use;

o   Assist those in transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy;

o   Encourage congregations and ministries to address the resulting unemployment and poverty;

·       Urges members, congregations and synods to set measurable goals to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels and improve their stewardship of energy resources and transition to renewable energy sources.

Justice for the Holy Land through Responsible Investment – PDF Page 36; Printed page August 13th 2 of 10
Passed (Vote by Card)

This memorial calls to:

·       Develop a human rights social criteria investment screen based on the concerns raised in the ELCA Middle East Strategy;

·       Encourage increasing positive investment in Palestine and areas where human rights abuses materially impact the well-being of its people;

·       Encourage engagement in shareholder advocacy in support of human rights.

Call to Discernment on US Foreign and Military Policy – PDF Page 38; Printed page August 13th 4 of 10
Passed (Vote by Card)
Congregations are called to engage in prayer, Scripture study and communal reading of the ELCA teaching resources particularly:

·       Church in Society: A Lutheran Perspective

·       For Peace in God’s World

·       Talking Together as Christians about Tough Social Issues

 This memorial also directs the church to form a task force to study the effects of foreign and military policy.

Supporting Military Personnel, Veterans and their Families – Page 39; Printed page August 13th 5 of 10
Passed (Vote by Card)

This memorial:

·       Encourages assistance to those considering military service and those continuing in service concerning justice, service and the ethical application of force;

·       Directs the Office of the Presiding Bishop to establish a Sunday of prayer and action near Veterans Day each year;

·       Encourages member to offer care and support for returning veterans;

·       Encourages congregations to seek out incarcerated veterans to help them access veterans’ benefits

·       Affirms the publication of the Prayer Book for the Armed Services and encourages congregations to present gift copies to veterans, military personnel and chaplains;

·       Lifts up the need for ordained pastors to serve as chaplains in the military, VA hospitals, federal corrections and other chaplaincies;

·       Urges members to contribute to the ELCA Federal Chaplaincy Ministries Fund for Leaders Scholarship; and

·       Encourages educational institutions to integrate practicing chaplains to teach about specialized ministries, preach, and foster awareness and consideration of a call to chaplaincy ministry.


Motion F: Resolution on Call Process – PDF Page 41; Printed page August 13th 7 of 10
Passed (Vote by Card)
Resolved that:

·       The assembly asks the Church Council initiate a conversation regarding rostered leader vacancies;

·       The assembly encourages the Conference of Bishops to continue their work facilitating and always reforming the call process;

·       Regions, institutions, synods and congregations be encouraged to raise up leaders for rostered leadership;

·       The Conference of Bishops communicate with the Church Council and mutually review the status of this work every year and a half for three years.