National Lutheran News

More than sexuality on ELCA assembly agenda

Five other key issues are on the docket in Orlando, Florida, during August

Normally, when the nation’s largest Lutheran group meets in churchwide assembly, around 30 members of the media show up. This year more than 300 have requested press credentials.

The reason is simple: when the ELCA meets in Orlando, Florida, August 8-14, the agenda includes questions about whether to grant blessings to individuals in same-sex relationships, and whether to allow ordination to candidates living in committed same-sex partnerships.
Those two items are guaranteed to generate a lot of heat. (To see how some Minnesotans are lining up on these issues, please turn to pages 6-7.) However, the ELCA has a good deal more on its plate.

The agenda will include:

* A proposed restructuring plan for the Chicago offices. Proponents say the consolidation will streamline operations and save money in a denomination which is cash-strapped at the churchwide level these days. Opponents say it will concentrate too much power in the office of the presiding bishop.

* Voters will be asked to approve asking the Office of the Presiding Bishop to complete a liturgical review of proposed content for a new book of worship. If no roadblocks appear, a new hymnal for the ELCA could be ready for publication as early as next year. (See another story on pages 14-15.)

* A proposal will be brought recommending “in-terim sharing of Eucharist (Holy Communion)” be-tween the ELCA and the United Methodist Church (UMC). The bishops of the UMC have already agreed to the proposal.

* Two “ethnic ministry” strategies will be offered for approval. They’ll propose approaches to effective partnership with Arab and Middle Eastern congregations, and also those with members of African descent.

* Voting members will also be asked to approve steps for “ELCA engagement in Israel and Palestine.”
About 2,000 people, including 1,018 voting members elected by synods, are expected to participate in this year’s gathering. It will be the ninth churchwide assembly ELCA has had since its inception in 1988.