ELCA Church Council approves measures addressing sexism, embracing authentic diversity
CHICAGO – The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) met at the Lutheran Center in Chicago April 4-7. The council, which serves as the ELCA's board of directors, took action on a variety of matters designed to help move the church's mission and ministries forward.
Council members voted to recommend to the 2019 Churchwide Assembly adoption of the proposed social statement "Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Lutheran Call to Action" and the related implementing resolutions. They expressed appreciation to the task force and churchwide staff for their six years of service in development of the social statement. The ELCA 2019 Churchwide Assembly will meet in Milwaukee August 5-10.
The council also recommended to the 2019 Churchwide Assembly the report and recommendations of the task force for strategic authentic diversity. This is in response to actions taken by the 2016 Churchwide Assembly directing the Church Council to develop a strategy to equip congregations and synods to work toward becoming a more authentically diverse church.
The council declined to consider "Trustworthy Servants of the People of God" and referred the document to the ELCA Domestic Mission unit for further review and redrafting. This document is intended to replace "Vision and Expectations," which outlines expectations the church has for rostered ministers. In their recommendation the council stated that further consideration of the document should involve a process that includes diverse voices from across the church. The council requested quarterly reports on the process and a draft for consideration by the fall 2020 meeting. Visitors to Church Council were invited to participate in conversations on "Trustworthy Servants of the People of God" during a committee meeting held prior to the council plenary session.
The Church Council also requested that the churchwide organization lead broad fundraising efforts throughout the ELCA focused on the priorities of Future Directions 2025 and affirmed the continuation of the task force that was formed to consider income strategies and potential future campaigns to grow resources for the church. The council approved continuing fundraising for programs that have proven donor interest and where the churchwide organization has an ongoing obligation: ELCA World Hunger, ELCA Fund for Leaders, International Women Leaders, Young Adults in Global Mission, Missionary Sponsorship and Lutheran Disaster Response.
In other business, the council:
- Elected Mr. Philip Wirtanen, Ms. Lisa A. Burk and the Rev. Ricardo E. Rivera to the Church Council for a term ending in 2022.
- Commended the work of the Ad Hoc Governance Policy Committee and requested a final Governance Policy Manual by August 2019.
- Increased the 2019 spending authorization from $67,164,676 to $68,164,676.
- Approved a Church Council-designated fund of $1,554,686 representing excess revenue over expenses from fiscal year 2018.
- Recommended the following triennium budget proposals for adoption by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly: current fund spending authorization of $68,378,325 for 2020; current fund income proposal of $68,442,034 for 2021 and $68,507,018 for 2022; ELCA World Hunger income proposal of $21,500,000 for fiscal years 2020-2022.
- Approved the revised ELCA Philosophy of Benefits.
- Accepted a process to measure and communicate the results of the Mission Support experiment in the following synods: Lower Susquehanna Synod; Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod; Nebraska Synod; New England Synod; and Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod. Mission Support is the financial offering from congregations shared with synods and the churchwide organization.
- Received an update on the draft of a declaration to the African-descent community to be presented to the 2019 Churchwide Assembly.
- Recommended adoption of Rules of Organization and Procedure by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly.
- Recommended amendments to the constitutions of this church for adoption by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly.
- Received the ELCA Churchwide Organization Operational Plan Report for 2018.
- Affirmed ethnic-specific ministry strategic plans.
- Elected members to the boards of separately incorporated ministries and seminaries.
The council also received reports from the church's presiding bishop, treasurer, secretary, and vice president, and from the ELCA Conference of Bishops. It received updates on Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA and greetings from ecumenical partners. The council also held time for reflections by the Church Council class of 2019.