Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day Four

by Phil Soucy

Ok, I am not a great lover of windstorms, even when they are described as weak tornados by the weather service. "Weak tornado" is a bit like "jumbo shrimp," burdened by its own contradiction. And the lady who reported that she was holding on to a Stop sign to keep from being lifted off the ground by this "weak" tornado would probably have something to say to the weather service about the words it uses. Much like the lady when I was a kid who wrote to the weather service protesting that she had just shoveled three inches of "Fair and Partially Cloudy" off her front porch.

I was on a local radio show by phone this, the morning after the tornado, and the host of the talk show said that a minister had said that the tornado "was a gentle warning from God" to the ELCA. I said that the minister who would say that obviously had never been in a tornado: there was nothing "gentle" about a tornado. As for a message embedded in it, did he mention that the sun came out when the Social Statement passed? But, the reality was the two events were both just weather, dangerous in one case, welcome relief in the other, but just weather, though I understood the use of metaphor to make a point.

Today was decidedly and gratefully less exciting, though nonetheless important than yesterday. First off this morning the assembly discussed the proposed change to the ministry policies that would allow service by ministers in committed, same gender relationships. They first did that sharing their thoughts in small groups before rejoining into the full assembly for the second half to one-by-one at microphones give their reflections on the proposed changes. All as a Committee of the Whole - no parliamentary procedure.

We seemed no less divided on the ministry policies changes than we were by the Social Statement. But the vote on the Social Statement puts in sharp focus that alternating speakers, one for, one against, gives the impression that the house is evenly divided on the subject. Until the vote reveals where the house really is. The parliamentary consideration and vote on the changes to ministry policies will occur beginning tomorrow morning.

Later in the day, the Implementing Resolutions to the Social Statement were debated and ultimately passed, though not until after several motions were made and failed to substantially change the wording. You can find the Implementing Resolutions at the back of the Social Statement. According to the ELCA, the Implementing Resolutions "begin placing the policies and concerns of the statement, titled "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust," into all areas of the church's work."

These little reports might give the impression that it was sex, sex, sex, all day long. The truth is the church was conducting major business all day in all aspects of the life of the church. We should be grateful and uplift by that work.

We adopted the Full Communion Agreement with the United Methodist Church. We completed the Second Ballot in the election of the Vice President of the ELCA. By the end of the assembly a prodigious amount of work will have been accomplished. No one should imagine that being a voting member is a boondoggle, easy, or unrewarding.

Tomorrow comes out of the starting blocks all teeth and claws, as the Brits say. So I am going to get some refreshing rest so as to be ready for it.

Again, if you are able, you can view the proceedings of the assembly online at www.elca.org. Till tomorrow...

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