500 Years of God’s Grace in Action
Reflections on the Churchwide Assembly 2016
by Ann Peterson
Since Bishop Eaton’s election in 2013 we have heard a lot about being church together for the sake of the world. In New Orleans we had the opportunity to live into that mission in new ways. The assembly was privileged to hear from Leymah Gbowee, a Nobel Laureate, Liberian peace activist and a Lutheran, challenging our church to be bolder than ever before. The Lutheran bishops from El Salvador and Papua New Guinea brought news of the work we are doing there as church together. Mawien Ariik, ELCA missionary in South Sudan; Dr. Mark Jacobson, medical missionary in Tanzania; and other representatives from the ELCA Global Mission Division told of opportunities to support our global partners as well as provide scholarships for International Women Leaders.
The assembly also did important legislative work that will chart the course of our church for years to come. These actions include:
- adoption of memorials from synods that support moving us toward a more responsible energy future
- justice for the Holy Land through responsible investment
- a call to discernment on US foreign and military policy; support for military personnel, veterans and their families
- approval to unify the three lay rosters of the ELCA into one roster of Word and Service
- adoption of a memorial regarding African Descent Lutheran Lives Matter
- support for welcoming refugees
The assembly also approved AMMPARO – the ELCA’s strategy to Accompany Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities. Especially significant was the assembly’s overwhelming acceptance of the “Declaration on the Way,” a unique ecumenical document that marks a path toward greater unity between Catholics and Lutherans. Following the vote, an emotional assembly stood to applaud the momentous decision.
In her report to the assembly, Bishop Eaton reminded us that in baptism we have all been marked with the cross of Christ and have been called not to run away, but to run to those dark and deadly places in the world, bringing the light and life of Christ. Thanks be to God!