2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly

Walk Together With Us!

Nineteen leaders in our synod were elected at last year’s synod assembly to be voting members at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly to be held August 5 – 10 at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee. The Churchwide Assembly is the primary decision-making body of the ELCA and gathers every three years. Voting members are chosen locally from across the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, representing the diverse communities, congregations, synods, perspectives and geographic contexts of the ELCA.

But just because you aren’t among the elected, doesn’t mean you can’t be “in the know!” We invite you to walk together with us as there are many ways to do this. First, get to know our voting members and please hold them in prayer during this time as they fulfill their important role in speaking to the matters before the assembly and communicating back to the synod all that they have learned.

Our voting members are:

• Rev. Sue Beadle – Pastor, Christ Lutheran Church (DeForest)
• Miriam Bohlman Kunz – Lake Edge Lutheran Church (Madison)
• Jane Cahill Wolfgram – Vice President, South-Central Synod of Wisconsin
• Deacon Vicki Hanrahan – Assistant to the Bishop for Synodical Life, South-Central Synod of Wisconsin
• Jessie Hodgson – First English Lutheran Church (Platteville)
• Jen Kooistra – Director of Youth, Family & Education Ministries, St. John’s Lutheran (Oregon)
• Theo Kooistra – St. John’s (Oregon)
• Rev. Steve Kottke – Assistant to the Bishop for Mobility, South-Central Synod of Wisconsin
• Rev. Felix Malpica – Pastor, Faith Lutheran Church (Janesville)
• Rev. Gabriel Marcano, Pastor, Parroquia Luterana Santa Maria (Beloit)
• Deacon Lisa Miller – Dir. of Discipleship & Communications, Peace Lutheran Church, Fort Myers, FL
• Heidi Muenchow – First Lutheran Church (Beaver Dam)
• Nathan Nelson Houstin – Trinity Lutheran Church (Madison)
• Rev. Matthew Poock – Pastor, St. John’s Lutheran Church (Evansville)
• Kathryn Small – Lake Edge Lutheran Church (Madison)
• Trevor Thom – Member of Synod Council and Immanuel (Watertown)
• Ben Johnston-Urey – Director of Music, First Lutheran Church (Janesville)
• Jason Xiong – Seminarian, Lake Edge Lutheran Church (Madison)
• Rev. Mae Jean Zelle – Pastor, Lake Edge Lutheran Church (Madison)


Assembly Voting Matters & Hearings

When the ELCA Churchwide Assembly convenes, its voting members meet with confidence in God’s grace around word and water, wine and bread, to carry on their work on behalf of the entire church. Over the course of the assembly, voting members:

  • Hear reports and review the work of churchwide officers, leaders and units;
  • Receive and consider proposals from synod assemblies;
  • Elect officers, board members and other leaders as specified by the constitution or bylaws;
  • Election of the Presiding Bishop & Secretary
  • Establish ELCA churchwide policy;
  • Worship together;
  • Adopt a budget; and
  • Conduct other business related to the ELCA churchwide organization.

You may be interested to know the other items we will be discussing and voting on:

Word & Service Entrance Rite 
We will discuss the work of the Entrance Rite Discernment Working Group and the constitutional amendments proposed for the entrance rite for ministers of Word and Service and their status in the “representational principles” of this church.

“Faith, Sexism, and Justice” Recommended Proposed Social Statement 
This is the recommended proposed social statement on “Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Lutheran Call to Action.”

Declaration to People of African Descent
The ELCA “Declaration to People of African Descent” names the role of the Lutheran church’s historical complicity in slavery and its enduring legacy of racism in the United States and globally. Where does the ELCA go from here?

Inter-Religious Policy Statement    
The hearings for “A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment: A policy statement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,” will be discussed.  For more detailed background information, see: http://bit.ly/elcainterreligious

The Office of the Presiding Bishop prepares a triennial budget for the churchwide organization in consultation with the Office of the Treasurer and the Budget and Finance Committee of the Church Council.

Network of Colleges & Universities 
Five years ago, the Domestic Mission unit collaborated with ELCA colleges and universities to create the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities as an unincorporated, missional association to oversee churchwide ministry in higher education. We’ll learn about NECU’s collective work to further the mission of Lutheran higher education to develop leaders for this church and the world.

ELCA World Hunger  
Conversation about this church’s creative and courageous work and service toward a just world where all are fed.

AMMPARO Initiative  
The 2016 Churchwide Assembly overwhelmingly adopted AMMPARO, the ELCA strategy to accompany migrant minors with protection, advocacy, representation, and opportunities. We will hear a 3-year update from Krish Vignarajah, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

Theological Education
Seminary leaders will address theological education in the ELCA.

Authentic Strategic Diversity & Inclusion
We will discuss the “Strategy Toward Authentic Diversity within the ELCA.”

Updating Vision & Expectations Listening Session  
In April 2019, the ELCA Church Council declined to consider “Trustworthy Servants of the People of God”, a document drafted to replace Vision & Expectations. The original intent of Vision & Expectations was to serve as a teaching opportunity about the shared expectations which this church has of its rostered ministers. However, over time the document was often used as a prescriptive or juridical document. The Church Council requested that further consideration of a new Vision & Expectations document be part of a process that intentionally includes diverse voices. A listening group met in June to begin such a process. This listening session is another opportunity for diverse voices to be heard concerning Vision & Expectations, and in particular, to answer the question: “What does the church need?”


Stay Connected via Livestream

ELCA Churchwide Assembly — Livestream
The ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the church’s primary decision-making event, is a process of communal spiritual discernment — a time for us to be the living body of Christ, guided by the Spirit and conformed to God’s will. Watch our Livestream of the 15th Churchwide Assembly, Aug. 5 through 10.

Link: https://www.elca.org/churchwideassembly


Supporting the Assembly

During the assembly, you are invited to pray for all voting members and for the work of the assembly. Daily prayer responses are offered to walk through the week:

Monday, August 5

Holy God, hope of the poor and balm of the brokenhearted, stir up in us the gift of your Spirit that we may hear your good news and proclaim it in word and deed; through Jesus your anointed, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, August 6

O God, the giver of every good gift, you set before us the feast of gladness. Gather your fractured human family, welcome us in our weakness, feed us with your mercy, and clothe us with life itself: Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, August 7

Glorious God, through the waters of the sea you led your people from slavery to freedom. Through the waters of baptism you bring us with Christ from death into life. Roll away the stone of our fear and doubt that we may sing your praise and dance to your glory; through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Song. Amen.

Thursday, August 8

Almighty and all-merciful God, for freedom you have set us free from every power that would enslave us. Create in us the heart of a servant and bind us to our neighbors with the love of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen. Friday, August 9 O Light Unseen, O Love unknown, O Life unending, your Word came as one among us to draw us to your loving heart and give us your abundant life. Pour out upon your wounded world grace upon grace through your Beloved, Jesus Christ, our Light and our Salvation. Amen.

Saturday, August 10

O God, source of all life, you raised Jesus from the dead and gave us the Spirit of his resurrection. Unbind your church from sin and the fear of death. Set us free to praise you with grateful hearts and to serve the world in Jesus’ name, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.