MILWAUKEE -- The 2003 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) authorized, 838 to 25, that the Office of the ELCA Presiding Bishop oversee and implement "Faithful Yet Changing: The Plan for Mission in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America" Aug. 17.
The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 11-17 at the Midwest Airlines Center. There are about 2,100 people participating, including 1,031 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is "Making Christ Known: For the Healing of the World."
The action authorized the Office of the Presiding Bishop to offer a report and recommendations to the November 2003 meeting of the ELCA Church Council. The Office of the Presiding Bishop will align the churchwide budget with the strategic directions, identify an initial set of strategies in consultation with all churchwide units, consult with leaders of synods, agencies and institutions, and prepare possible constitutional and bylaw amendments for consideration by the 2005 Churchwide Assembly.
The assembly adopted an amendment, 692 to 213, to recommend the addition of a sixth strategic direction emphasizing an anti- racist commitment. The Rev. Robert Rimbo, bishop, ELCA Southeast Michigan Synod, introduced the amendment, saying: "We need to work on dismantling the racism that is crippling our witness in the world."
After the action was adopted, the Rev. Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the ELCA, asked the assembly to thank all who shaped the plan for mission: the 30,000 ELCA members who participated through synod assemblies, the ELCA Church Council, the churchwide staff and the Rev. Charles S. Miller, ELCA executive for administration. The assembly adopted a "sense of the assembly" motion, 777 to 77, that the wording of two strategic directions be changed. The "sense motion" called for more active language in the strategic directions, changing "welcoming" to "inviting" and "assist" to "equip."