Churchwide Assembly Is a Wrap

William B. Horne II

NEW ORLEANS ( 👐 William B. Horne II of Clearwater Florida was elected Vice President of the ELCA, succeeding Carlos Peña, who did not seek reelection. The Vice Presidency is the highest lay position in the church.

By a vote of 811 to 55, the assembly approved adoption of the roster of Ministry of Word and Service. Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, associates in ministry, deaconesses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and diaconal ministers will be a single, unified roster of Ministry of Word and Service. The accompanying constitutional amendments related to the roster were also approved by the assembly.

In her report to the 2016 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton reflected on the ELCA’s work over the past three years and lifted up future priorities for the church.

“I think it’s important when we organize our work together that we understand that we are church first,” Eaton said. “And we need to be clear that our lives are formed by word and sacrament, that we gather as the beloved children of God around the means of grace, that our lives are in Christ.”

Emphasizing the Lutheran identity and the distinctive Lutheran voice, Eaton said she hoped the church is beginning to understand that “God is calling us to be a diverse, inclusive, multicultural church.”

“We have to be very, very careful that we don’t define ourselves by culture or by cuisine. There are more Lutherans of color throughout the world and throughout the Lutheran federation than there are European descent Lutherans,” said Eaton.

“We just can’t somehow ignore that we live in an interreligious culture right now and that we need to work together, particularly at this time in this country when there’s so much fear of the other, particularly of people of other religious traditions,” she said.

“We are working with our partners, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, to settle immigrants, especially the Syrian immigrants as they come over here and … welcome them so they become a part of our fabric of our country … but we have to keep our focus. These are children of God. They’re human beings,” she said.

In closing Eaton told the assembly, “We have work to do. God will give us energy and the courage and the will to do it. Let’s go, church.”

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