ELCA Churchwide Assembly 2019

By Rachel Wermerskirchen

I attended the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee on August 5 – 10, 2019 as a voting member representing the St. Paul Area Synod. I was one of 927 voting members serving on behalf of the 3.5 million ELCA members.

During the assembly, some of the actions of the voting members included:

  • Electing Bishop Elizabeth Eaton to a second term as ELCA presiding bishop and Sue Rothmeyer as secretary of the ELCA
  • Approving the social statement Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action – which covers a range of issues including gender-based violence, workplace discrimination, and economic inequality – and its implementing resolutions
  • Adopting A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment, which will serve as church policy for inter-religious relations
  • Adopting A Strategy Toward Authentic Diversity in the ELCA
  • Adopting a memorial affirming our long-standing commitment to migrants and refugees, and declaring the ELCA a sanctuary church body
  • Adopting a constitutional amendment making ordination the entrance rite for deacons and to no longer count them as laypeople for representational principles
  • Approving the triennium budget proposal

We also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the ELCA’s ordination of women in 2020, the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women of color in the Lutheran tradition, and the 10th anniversary of the ELCA’s decision to remove barriers to ordination for people in same-gender relationships.

One of the most significant moments of the week for me was the AMMPARO (Accompanying Minor Migrants with Protection, Advocacy, Representation, and Opportunities) prayer walk and vigil in support of migrant families. I joined hundreds of participants who peacefully walked to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Milwaukee for an emotional and passionate demonstration.

Each day of Churchwide Assembly included worship with powerful, insightful preaching and stirring music. I strongly felt the Holy Spirit’s presence during the week as the voting members were tasked with making decisions on a myriad of topics, such as confronting sexism and other forms of oppression, condemning white supremacy, working alongside our ecumenical and inter-religious partners for justice and peace, fostering more racial diversity and inclusion in the ELCA, addressing the problem of gun violence, and aiding migrants and refugees.

I am grateful to have been a voting member at this assembly. I formed connections with clergy and laypeople from across the country, increased my awareness of ELCA programs and initiatives, and cherished the opportunity to vote on significant issues. Best of all, I felt the Spirit transforming my heart and urging me to go into the world and act in ways that actively promote justice, equity, and abundant life for all God’s children.

Rachel joined Church Council in August, and is involved in many ministries at SOTV. To learn more about Rachel’s
experience at the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, view her daily vlogs on the “Shepherd of the Valley-
Apple Valley, MN” Facebook page

A Note from Pastor Rick

We are so glad that SOTV member Rachel Wermershirchen served as a voting member to the churchwide assembly. It’s great to have a personal connection to this assembly at which there were significant milestones celebrated and important decisions made. Perhaps you have heard or read about the ELCA’s declaration of being a sanctuary church. Some news reports were not accurate in their representation of this decision. Read what our own St. Paul Synod Bishop, Patricia Lull, wrote at https://www.spas-elca.org/immigration-and-hospitality-of-the-heart/. Staff and council will be discussing the implications for SOTV in the coming weeks. If you would like to talk with me about it, I would be happy to meet with you. – Pastor Rick