ELCA Church Board Considers Debt, Discipline, and Statement to Muslim Community – ELCA Grand Canyon Synod

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The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) met March 31-April 2. The council, which serves as the governing body of the ELCA, has taken action on a variety of issues before this church. Among them were preparations for ELCA Church Assembly 2022, to be held August 8-12 in Columbus, Ohio.

In her report to the council, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton spoke about the goals of the ELCA Future Church, emphasizing the importance of the additional goal of engaging one million new, young and diverse people by 2030.

Noting the changing culture and demographics of this country and citing research that shows many people are searching for meaning, Eaton asked the council to consider how this church will share the liberating word of gospel with others and “will also receive from them how this gospel message has impacted and changed their lives in ways that we may not have recognized because that is not the way we always have.”

In his written report, Eaton added, “I pray that the Church Council at this meeting will let the Spirit blow for us and in us. We have a lot ahead of us. The Church, through the Holy Spirit, has called us to this work. Let us listen carefully and critically to each other, and even more carefully to the Holy Spirit.”

The board has taken the following key actions:

  • Authorized the creation of a task force to study education debt among enrolled ministers and develop a comprehensive strategy to provide education debt relief to as many enrolled ministers as possible. The action also authorized the executive committee to nominate members from across ELCA ecology to the working group. The board requested progress reports at its fall 2023 meeting and a final report with possible recommendations at its spring 2025 meeting.

  • Adopted “A Statement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to the Muslim Community” as a statement on Lutheran-Muslim relations.

  • Authorized the formation of an ad hoc committee as identified in the resolutions of application of the social declaration Faith, Sexism and Justice: A Call to Actionadopted by the 2019 ELCA Church Assembly, and tasked the committee with guiding a process of public repentance, including a church-wide day of confession and repentance for the sins of patriarchy and Sexism.

  • Confirmed the Deacon’s Unified Cross design concept as proposed by the Rite of Entry Discernment Task Force and defined by the Church Council in 2019.

  • Approved the establishment of a fund designated by the Council of Churches – the Campaign Readiness Fund – in the amount of $3 million, to be used to assess the feasibility of a fundraising campaign at a later date.

  • Approved the addition of $1.5 million to the Designated Youth Gathering Fund, to be used to offset losses incurred in canceling the 2022 ELCA Youth Gathering and to provide support for future Gathering events.

  • Increase in spending authority for fiscal year 2022 in the current fund of $650,271, from $65,816,150 to $66,466,421, and increase in spending authority for ELCA World Hunger by $3,321,700, from $22,665,000 to $25,986,700.

  • Recommended the following three-year budget proposals for adoption by the 2022 ELCA Church Assembly: (1) an authorization to spend the current fund of $68,814,000 for 2023; (2) a current fund income proposal of $70,191,000 for 2024 and $71,594,000 for 2025; and (3) an ELCA World Hunger revenue proposal of $22,869,000 for 2023, $22,930,000 for 2024, and $22,960,000 for 2025.

  • Approved the Continuing Resolutions necessary for the ELCA Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions in response to the approval of a new Church Board Standing Committee Structure at the 2021 Fall Board Meeting. The board approved new or revised committee charters and appointed members to each committee: budget and finance; Legal and Constitutional Review; Faith, society and innovation; Christian community and leadership; and Service and Justice. The executive committee will include the chairs of each of these committees after the 2022 Church Assembly.

  • Adopted revisions to the “Rules Governing Disciplinary Proceedings Against Listed Ministers and Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.”

  • Recommended proposed organizational and procedural rules for the 2022 Church Assembly and adopted a rule regarding hearings to be held online the week before the assembly.

  • Received a report and introduction on youth and young adults and the church from the church board’s Young Adult Task Force.

  • Received an introduction to the role of the Church Council at the 2022 Church Assembly.

The council also received reports from church officers, its council committees and the Bishops’ Conference as well as ecumenical greetings from The Episcopal Church. Additionally, the council participated in a conversation about cultural humility and held time for reflections from the Church Council of 2022 class.

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