ELCA Assembly

August 7, 2019

ELCA Assembly 2019: Guns, Gender Identity, and Native “Colonized History”

The first plenary session of the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) 2019 is off to a predictably politically inoffensive start as Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton paused to “honor the nation tribes” and “celebrate the many people who first called this land home.”

The 927 voting members from the ELCA’s 65 synods gathered this week in Milwaukee, Wisconsin were invited by Eaton to “remember the tragedies” endured by Native Americans and “find inspiration in their resilience in overcoming challenges today.”

“Milwaukee is and always has been a native place. Home to a diverse number of indigenous Americans,” said the Rev. Paul Erickson, bishop of the Greater Milwaukee Synod, following his welcome address to the assembly on Monday.

Any assembly participants seeking an additional “time of learning and humbling” themselves over Native-American subjugation, space is available in room 101C of the Wisconsin Center. There, participants can “deepen their understanding of the oppression and colonized history” of local indigenous communities.

The politically correct tone is no surprise for the ELCA assembly. Numerous progressive proposals, called memorials, will be presented to the ELCA’s primary decision-making body. Among the most notable measures are memorials addressing gun violence and gun policy, immigration, and gender identity.

In the wake of multiple mass shootings in the U.S., a memorial from the Metropolitan Chicago Synod encourages other synods and congregations to “dedicate a time of study and exhortation to action on the issue of gun violence and public policy on guns” and urges the Church Council to authorize the “development of a social message on gun violence and public policy that points to human suffering, grave injustice, pending danger, public health and social perplexity.”

Immigration is another prominent issue up for consideration by the Churchwide Assembly. In its memorial on deportation, the Greater Milwaukee Synod calls on the ELCA to “speak in opposition to the inhumane policies of harassment, detention and deportation implemented by the U.S. government.”

Assembly participants are also invited to join the Greater Milwaukee Synod for a march and prayer vigil before the city’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement building on Wednesday afternoon.

Another memorial from the Sierra Pacific Synod notes society’s “paradigm shift as it regards its understanding of biological sex, gender, identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation” and recommends the development of a social statement on gender identity and gender expression.

In its statement, the Sierra Pacific Synod specifically requests:

[T]he Office of the Presiding Bishop provide materials to facilitate education among ELCA members so as to build awareness of the broad varieties of gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation among God’s people, as well as to provide pastoral care insights regarding concerns and issues of the transgender experience and gender nonconformity; and to request that the Church Council consider authorizing development of a social message on gender identity and gender expression.

The ELCA Churchwide Assembly 2019 will conclude on Saturday, August 10. Other assembly business will include the nomination and election of a new presiding bishop for a six-year term.

25 Responses to ELCA Assembly 2019: Guns, Gender Identity, and Native “Colonized History”

  1. So pathetic. They are just 6 months behind the world at all times, waiting for their next command from Satan.

  2. Jim says:

    The irony- if the gospel of Jesus Christ and the whole of scripture were exposited from the pulpits of churches that proclaim a Christian foundation, God would be at work in the hearts of many. In the process, much of societal ills would be healed. But alas, they’re not so He’s not.

  3. Palamas says:

    The Democratic Party at prayer. The ELCA might as well throw in the towel and simply become party precinct committees and give up the pretense of being churches.

  4. William says:

    If I entered one of their churches seeking salvation, the first question of me, “are you a registered Democrat?

  5. Didaskalos says:

    A denomination that uses members’ offering dollars to pay for the any-reason-whatsoever abortion of God’s preborn creations in its self-funded employee health plan has no moral high ground to inveigh against violence.

  6. Sarah89 says:

    Chelsen, Good article. Thanks for covering this.
    Please find out the status of the ELCA Seminary Initiative: Naked and Unashamed. It promotes adultery as healthy.

    • William says:

      I’ve read some extraordinary things, but this one is incredible. They are clearly a cult and in the clutches of Satan.

  7. JR says:

    I really appreciate the comments, as they all point fingers at who’s a real Christian and who isn’t.

    Matthew 7 starts out pretty solid on that. Y’all might want to read up on that a bit.

  8. Steve says:

    Clergy loves this stuff, congregations don’t. Not saying all this is totally unrelated to Christianity, or that they aren’t Christians, but they sure doesn’t seem to be spreading the gospel. Sure, the gospel’s full of hard teachings, so being true to it will be tough. It’s a natural human tendency to want to have the perks of a profession while avoiding the hard parts. Thus we hear about “clericalism” and we have a cover of The Atlantic calling for the abolition of clergy. It begs the question of whether hierarchical denominations can even work. Mainline clergy needs to be more accountable to their congregations; they can either figure out how to make that happen or they can go extinct. Guess it doesn’t matter much to them as long as as long as the wheels don’t fall off before they make it to retirement and their pension.

  9. Philip says:

    In the wake of a national tragedy your organization sits on the sidelines for days, not even troubling yourselves to offer those “thoughts and prayers” expected of you, then come out finally, not to comfort the grieving, but mock those actually trying to help. You’re the NRA’s chaplains.

  10. Paul says:

    UMC GC2012 in Tampa opened with an indigenous representative welcoming delegates and guests to his native homeland. Later in the week there was “An Act of Repentance toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous People.” Nothing “politically correct” about it. Just too long before it happened.

  11. Lee D. Cary says:

    “The ELCA saw its membership decline to 3.5 million members in 2016, down from 5.2 million in 1988 when the denomination was formed as a merger of three other smaller Lutheran groups. Today, 40 percent of its churches have between 50 and 100 worshippers each Sunday.” (https://tinyurl.com/y3778xq6)

    • JR says:

      I do wonder how that count (40%) compares to UMC.

      • Ken MacAlister says:

        As one who left the UMC in April the attendance is no better. It is shrinking there too. Most of the attendees at the liberal mainline Protestant denominations is made up of senior citizens who have been attending these churches since they were young. There aren’t many young people replacing those who are passing away in the UMC & I suspect it’s probably the same in other mainline Protestant denominations young people either don’t attend church anymore or they attend non-denominational churches which don’t liberal lunacy, but instead teach The Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. Not all do, but many do.

    • William Walker says:

      About to lose one more. How can we state that we will disobey law. Actually marched on a government building.

      The directives are part of the democratic platform.

  12. Judy Hughes says:

    I am so confused about what scripture is being referenced by the comments above. The ELCA seems dedicated to adherence to Scripture as I know it and God as I experience him/her. I trust the critical folks above will be in conversation so we can heal the divide. I love the ELCA.

    • Scott Willi says:

      Ms. Hughes,

      I believe that there are some ELCA churches that do adhere to Scripture. However the powers in charge create a liberal doctrine that let’s people believe what they want rather than what Scripture says.

      Point 1- Homosexuality: 1 Corinthians 6:9 & 10 speak clearly about the consequences of homosexual behavior. As does Leviticus 18 and 20 and the Sodom and Gomorrah account in Genesis, as well as Roman’s (chapter 13 to be exact) and most of the Epistles. The ELCA, rather than adhering to Scripture, takes a position of “some people believe one way and others believe another”. In Luther’s Works, Martin Luther refers to Sodom and Gomorrah as to what happens to people who fall from God’s word (Luther’s Works, Vol.3 251-252).

      Point 2 -The Virgin Birth: Again, rather than following what Scripture says,the ELCA takes a liberal position in letting people believe what they want. An ELCA church in the school district I teach in proclaims that the virgin birth did not happen. Many still say it is OK to believe one way or the other. Scripture again is clear that it was indeed a virgin birth in Luke 1. To say otherwise is throwing out an important part of the Gospel message. Luke specifically says that the Holy Spirit conceived in Mary the Christ Child.

      Point 3- The Ordinantion of Women: While I think there are women that could make good pastors, again, God’s word says that is not their office to have. 1 Timothy 2:11-14 gives the scriptural explanation why. Chapter 3 goes on further still about the roles of deacons. This again is repeated in Titus. But men are also called to serve and love the church and their wives as Christ did his bride, the church ( Go back to the foot washing after the Last Supper). Women are not inferior. They are equal, but separate roles. The ELCA has just re-elected their female bishop to another 6-year term. Again, ignoring parts of Scripture rather than Sola Scriptura.

      Point 4- The Path to Heaven: at the last ELCA National Convention, was perhaps the most disturbing move by the denomination. With leaders from the Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim faith’s, etc., the ELCA took another step away from Scripture voting 97% in favor of agreeing that there many ways to enter the kingdom of heaven.

      One pastor, stood up and correctly used John 14 citing that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Another pastor said that she was embarrassed by the discussion in front of the guest panel. Thusly, throwing out Roman’s 1:16 when Paul was “not ashamed of the Gospel”. Clearly this pastor is. Further reading this chapter, God makes it clear that he is clear of his position on this instead of that pastor’s rationale stating the exact opposite (versus 18-32).

      Sola Fida (Faith alone), Sola Gratia (Grace alone), Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), and Sola Christus (Christ Alone) are the basis of the Lutheran faith. I fear that the ELCA is drifting further from Scripture and after this last convention, from Christ being the cornerstones of their faith. I pray that if it’s God’s will, that he brings the powers that be back to ALL his Word and not just the parts they want to hear and throwing out, or pretending the rest does not exist. Luther used Scripture as the guide of the Reformation, not his own rationalism.

      Please consider the passages of Scripture used here. As Isaiah 40 says, “The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of our God stands forever. ”

      2 Timothy 3:16

  13. William Walker says:

    Was Luther a democrat?
    Encouraging breaking laws? Marching on a government building.

    And the thought declining numbers was a problem. Minus another!!!!

  14. Ron says:

    Another example why more Christians choose non denominational places of worship.

    • Scott Willi says:

      Hi Ron,

      People are leaving for non-denominational churches. The problem those churches face is retention. Many families leave after 5 years over disagreements with those pastors and their views. Again, either using only parts of Scripture or their own flawed rationale.

      My in-laws left a non-denominational mega-church in Central Illinois when it became just showing up to an auditorium and watching a video of a sermon by the head at another church.

      My point is, numbers are not a denomination problem. ALL denominations are losing numbers at an alarming rate. Faith is not a priority as it once was in American culture. And it won’t change either. 2 Timothy 4 is showing itself right in front of us. “They will go to leaders to hear what their itching ears want to hear “.

  15. Craig says:

    Gender identity? According to the Bible, God created male and female. Eve was taken from the rib of Adam. He didn’t tell them to choose what sex they wanted to be. Jesus prayed to His Father, end of story.
    Goodbye ELCA.

  16. Donald says:

    I hate to break this news to your ELCA readers, but you’ve clearly LOST the race to see who can get below 1.0M members first among the Seven Sisters. The Disciples of Christ blew the rest of them out of the water, now being officially below 1.0M members. The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterians are now neck-and-neck for second and third place.

  17. Gordon says:

    My beloved ELCA has abandoned me. It is nothing but a cover for the far left liberals messages. The teachings of Christ is no longer the foundation of the ELCA. SAD

  18. I am a clergy in the ELCA. I have no doubt that the ELCA is Christ-centered as well as Trinity respectful. We honor the Affirmation of Baptism which proclaims and demands five promises of the Baptized and confirmed: 1) Gather in community; 2) Worship and receive the Lord’s Supper; 3) Proclaim Christ through word and deed; 4) Serve all people following the example of Jesus Christ; 5) Strive for justice and peace in all the earth. The ELCA is local and global, personal and political, congregational and community focused. ELCA people do not live in a bubble, but in the world. We recognize diversity. We believe Christ came to redeem, liberate and transform ALL of life. We believe ALL people are brothers and sisters united by God’s grace, called to love ALL. We proclaim forgiveness of sin and demand discipleship. Our doors and hearts are open. We respect other expressions, viewing them through the glasses of Christ, recognizing there is one God of all.

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