Sunday, August 23, 2009

ELCA Churchwide Assembly, a Postscript

by Phil Soucy

I woke up this morning with the thought that we start our journeys home from Churchwide today.

Then it struck me that we came home Friday night...
We came home Friday night...

There is a hotel chain that says they'll leave a light in the window for us...

We too have been following a light left in the window for us - by Christ Jesus.
We came home Friday night...

Welcome home, everybody...
Welcome home...

Day Six

by Phil Soucy

I would like to report at the outset that the Presiding Bishop, in accordance with the agenda for the assembly laid out weeks ago, took the entire assembly to Central Lutheran today for worship at 11:30 a.m. Throwing caution to winds (yes, Virginia, that reference is deliberate), the assembly had to cross the very same ground that the tornado touched down on. They were in the previously "so-called targeted" area including Central Lutheran for nearly an hour, and then retraced their steps to the Convention Center. The sky remained blue, tornado-less and cloudless, the sun shining brightly. So much for that...

That "weather" pattern was not prevalent throughout the morning in the assembly hall as "greetings" were brought to the assembly by Reverend Dr. Gerald Kieschnick, President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. More accurately, he was greeted warmly and humorously in the name of the Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America by Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson. The Reverend Dr. did not smile, but began his message by quoting Paul in 2 Corinthians 15: "...we implore you, on behalf of Christ: be reconciled to God. For our sake, He made Him to be sin who knew no sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. What a blessing it is to know that our sin is forgiven, removed from us as far as the east is from the west because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ on Calvary's cross..."

At that point I realized that the exchange of commemorative plaques was probably off...

Getting into stride, he later quoted from the Kolb-Wengert translation of the Formula of Concord on doctrinal controversy and discord, to wit: "...for these controversies are not merely misunderstandings or semantic arguments where someone might think that one group had not sufficiently grasped what the other group was trying to say or that the tensions were based upon only a few specific words of relatively little consequence. Rather, these controversies deal with important and significant matters, and they are of such a nature that the positions of the erring party neither could nor should be tolerated in the church of God, much less be excused or defended. Therefore necessity demands explanation of these disputed articles on the basis of God's word and reliable writings so that those with a proper Christian understanding could recognize which position regarding the points under dispute is in accord with God's word and the Christian Augsburg confession and which is not. And so t
he Christians of good will, who are concerned about the truth, might protect and guard themselves from the errors and corruptions that have appeared among us..."

His was a serious message of rebuke, delivered somberly and, as he said, " deep humility with a heavy heart and no desire whatsoever to offend. The decisions by this assembly to grant non-celibate homosexual ministers the privilege of serving as rostered leaders in the ELCA and the affirmation of same-gender unions as pleasing to God will undoubtedly cause additional stress and disharmony within the ELCA. It will also negatively affect the relationships between our two church bodies. The current division between our churches threatens to become a chasm..."

Bishop Hanson replied graciously " the same spirit of high humility and clarity in which you addressed us, I want you to hear, in my humble voice my deep commitment that the shared confessions that hold us together as Lutherans I hope and pray will be strong enough for us to continue to be in conversation and that the cries of the world that we have heeded together, in spite of these difficult times of acknowledging our differences, the cries of the world that have called us to join together as Lutheran Services in America, Lutheran Immigration Refugee Service, Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran Disaster Response and military chaplains, that even as we take and hear your honest voices about our actions, you hear our honest commitment to be in conversation and together responding as your board of directors did this week in response to LMI, so that with Lutheran voice and humility and capacity we might proclaim Christ through our deeds of service. Bring my commitment to your church."

I am aware that a casual reading of these reports would lead to the conclusion that we are one-subject Lutherans. I have per force of the issues before us, the church, and the assembly concentrated on that subject, seemingly to the exclusion of all others. But I know you and those who surround me in this work are Lutherans, loving our church and vitally interested in the gamut of the work done for others by the ELCA.

This assembly dealt with amazing issues of vital important to the life of the church and its present and future mission to its members and those it is in service to in the world, using our hands to do God's work. All done as Mother Theresa once said, "Not because we want anything, but because they need it."

The assembly voted that youth (under 18 at the time of their election or appointment) and young adults (18-35) should comprise 10% of boards, committees and assemblies at the congregation, synod, and churchwide level.

The assembly has ordered a Social Statement be created on Justice for Women and presented for adoption in 2015 to help the church and its members in moral deliberations, to govern the ELCA's institutional policies and to be a guide in the church's advocacy work concerning women. Social Statements take a minimum of 5 years in preparation; there are two other social statements in the queue for 2011 and 2013.

The assembly said in unequivocal terms that basic health care and mental health care should be available to all at an affordable cost.

The assembly approved a budget for 2010 that is $76.69 million, a 6.4 percent decrease over 2009. This is based on estimated giving levels in 2009.

All of these things are important to us as Lutherans. It really is all about our hands doing God's work.

Look for a communication from Emily Eastwood, Executive Director of Lutherans Concerned in the next few days reflecting on the events of the assembly and the future they bode. In the meantime, continue your prayers for the church, all its members, and its leaders as the decisions of the assembly are turned into actions for the mission of the church to the world.

This is the last of these blogs from the assembly. It has been an honor to try to help you see in a small way the assembly through a rear-view mirror.

One last observation: in the hotel we stayed in the sign on wall informing what was going on in the venue. As we arrived last weekend it said that "Flexible meeting space was available." Now at this end of the week it notes that "Transformance seminars" are beginning. Indeed, they are... Peace and Blessings...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Mighty Wind Blows

Clips from the Goodsoil Worship Service on Wednesday Night

Video from Goodsoil Service for Hope and Healing

Video courtesy of Megan Rohrer

A Whole New Poetry

by David Weiss

Today I am struggling for words.

What have I seen these past days except Communion?

I remember years ago, as a teenager, once seeing my pastor lift a pitcher high to pour the wine from three feet above the chalice to accentuate the drama of the words, “poured out for you.”

This week it was as though the twin mics were the hands an unseen Celebrant lifting up the Bread to say in faithful disagreement, “This is my Body, broken for you. Do this … to re-member me.”

Who of us came to Minneapolis to see the Body broken? We go to church weekly, anticipating with innocent calm the breaking of the bread, so easily forgetting the original terror of the words when first instituted. We take for granted that this breaking brings wholeness, because it is typically loaves, not limbs or Lutherans that are broken.

So is our joy to be muted? No. We have witnessed the Magnificat play out in our Assembly. How can our souls not magnify the Lord?

How then do we tend to the Body?

By doing as we have done all week, all decade, all of our lives: by being persistently and (as we are able) graciously present to our brothers and sisters in Christ. By reminding them, gently to be sure, but with wisdom hard-won ourselves, that as Simone Weil wrote, “Life does not need to mutilate itself to be holy.”

What we have learned in our own journeys toward affirmation, wholeness and integrity is now our best witness to those who see no option except to mutilate the Body of Christ in the desire to keep it holy.

Me? As I have moved through this week I have felt the power of Adrienne Rich’s intuition, that, as the truth of our love finds its voice, there is “a whole new poetry beginning here.”

In the company of those of you here at the Convention Center and alongside those of you reading my words from afar, I have been watching, listening, weeping, aching, hoping, and trying to echo bits of my experience for others to read. Seeking Communion.

Again, Adrienne Rich, elegizing a team of women mountain climbers who perished together on a Russian mountain peak in 1974, describes their death-defying solidarity in words that were ours this week:

Now we are ready
and each of us knows it I have never loved
like this I have never seen
my own forces so taken up and shared
and given back
After the long training the early sieges
we are moving almost effortlessly in our love

We know now we have always been in danger
down in our separateness
and now up here together but till now
we had not touched our strength

What does love mean
what does it mean “to survive”
A cable of blue fire ropes our bodies
burning together in the snow We will not live
to settle for less We have dreamed of this
all of our lives

And while it is true that we are yet some ways off from the full Kin-dom of God, both in the details of the documents and in the strained fellowship of the Assembly, at the reception in Goodsoil Central on Friday night the food—“heavy hors d'oeuvres” in catering jargon—tasted like a foretaste of the feast to come. And at the worship service for Hope and Healing, between the eloquent readings, the poignant prayers, the powerful drumming, and the heavenly singing of Cantus, it seemed as though God, too, has been dreaming of this day for all of our lives and more.

Churchwide Assembly Day Five

by Phil Soucy

Well, ok, what to tell you about today? Certainly not THE NEWS! You have by now been fully informed on THE NEWS by 17 phone calls from friends, and, of course, I did send you the press release announcing the outcome. You know the big pieces.

So I thought instead I would just tell you what I had for dinner.

Just kidding.

Actually, this has to go down as one of the busiest, momentous days in life, for everyone, on all sides of the questions. It is impossible to overestimate the significance of what happened today and what it means. Yes, there is the obvious: the ban on dedicated service by ministers in committed, lifelong same-gender relationships is removed, replaced by a single high standard for excellence, right living, and above reproach conduct in the ministerial office for all. The church has said that it wants to find a way to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable lifelong, monogamous, same gender relationships.

But it's the real meaning of this that I am having a hard time envisioning - the size of it, the scope of it. Perhaps it is because it is too big to take in, to wrap one's head around. I know the practical bits and all that will have to happen starting now to flesh out the decisions made by the assembly into workable procedures and policies. But there is nothing in the experience of the movement to full inclusion that includes what to do when we achieve our big goals.

So, if we thought we were on a journey with the church before, that together we both as the Body of Christ were learning and developing, we sure are on one now.

Much work has to be done now. More on that in the coming weeks, months, and years.

For now, today, tomorrow, in the coming days, we can be joyful, prayerful, and sober thinking. We can ponder the meaning of what has happened. We can think on and pray about and for those who are in pain because their understanding does not allow them to support the decisions that were taken by the assembly.

Many of you watched the proceedings, but many may not have. Even if you did, what I am about to share with you is worth re-visiting.

Bishop Hanson comments after the vote were pastoral and an appropriate cap to the momentous day:

"I would like to speak before I call on any mics.

"I want more time to think about words from one you have called to serve as pastor of this church.
I have been standing here thinking about my 23 years as a parish pastor and how differently I would go into a context if I was gathering with a family or a group of people that had just experienced loss or perhaps were wondering if they still belonged, or, in fact, felt deeply that ones to whom they belong had been severed from them.

"That would be a very different pastoral conversation.

"And I would probably turn to words such as Romans 8, "Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus who died, yes, who was raised, who was at the right hand of God, who intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? I'm convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor rulers nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus."

"But then I thought, "What if I were going into a family or a group, a community that had always wondered if they belonged and suddenly had now received a clear affirmation that they belonged?"
All of the wondering about the dividing walls, the feelings of separation seemed to have dropped away.

"That would be a very different conversation.

"I would probably read to them out of Ephesians. "But now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace. In His flesh, He has made both groups into one. He's broken down the dividing wall that is the hostility between us. In Him, the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in Lord. In whom you also are building spiritually into a dwelling place of God. "

"But then I thought, what if those two groups were together, but also in their midst were those who had not experienced loss or the feeling of the dividing wall of separation coming down, but were wondering and worried if all that had occurred might sever the unity and wondered if their actions might have contributed to reconciliation or separation?

"If all those people were together in a room, I would read from Colossians, "As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Bear with one another. If anyone has a complaint against the other, forgive each other just as the Lord has forgiven you so you must also forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything to in perfect harmony and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, with gratitude in your hearts. Sing songs, hymns and spiritual songs to God.
And whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. "

"That passage gives invitation and expectation that those deeply disappointed today will have in this church the expectation and the freedom to continue to admonish and to teach.

"And so, too, those that have experienced reconciliation today, you are called to humility.
"You are called to clothe yourselves with love.

"But we're all called to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, remembering again and again that we are called in the one body.

"I will invite you tomorrow afternoon into important, thoughtful, prayerful conversations about what all of this means for our life together.

"But what is absolutely important for me is that that's a conversation we have together.

"I ended my oral report with these words: "We meet one another finally, not in our agreements or our disagreements, but at the foot of the cross, where God is faithful, where Christ is present with us, and where, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are one in Christ."

"Let us pray.

"Oh, God, gracious and holy, mysterious and merciful, we meet this day at the foot of the cross and there we kneel in gratitude and awe that you have loved us so much that you would give the life of your son so that we might have life in his name.

"Send your spirit this night, the spirit of the risen Christ that has been breathed into us.
"May it calm us.
"May your spirit unite us.
"May it continue to gather us.
"In Jesus' name, amen."

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Council of Jerusalem

by David R. Weiss
A hymn written in anticipation of this day back on April 13, 2004

It was a glorious day in Jerusalem
It was a glorious day in Jerusalem
It was a glorious day in Jerusalem
When Peter and Paul said to all of them:

The kin-dom of God is wider you see
The family of God is fuller you see
The Spirit of God blows freer you see
Than ever we thought that it could be

I saw a blanket from heaven put down
Forbidden foods set all around
I said, “Dear Lord, what can it mean?”
And God told me, “I call these clean!”

When the call came next to please come preach
As Cornelius and family did beseech
I saw that the food was folks, you see
Gentile—and yet clean as could be

So I went and I preached right from my heart
But don’t you know—was merely the start
Cause right then and there, came the wind
God’s Spirit eager to gather them in

I’ve traveled afar with Barnabas
Won’t you all please listen to us?
We’ve seen the signs and wonders done
By God whose reign exceeds the sun

Isaiah of old had promised it true
That God had gathering more to do
In Gentile lands this is what we saw:
The Spirit unlimited by the Law

Where faith is sown in the human heart
Nothing of ours can keep us apart
From the love of God given as grace
This is the truth we need to face

It was a glorious day in Jerusalem
It was a glorious day in Jerusalem
It was a glorious day in Jerusalem
When Peter and Paul said to all of them:

The kin-dom of God is wider you see
The family of God is fuller you see
The Spirit of God blows freer you see
Than ever we thought that it could be

Peter & Paul:
And who are we – or are any of you
To tell the Lord what is proper to do?
I know what the Word of the Lord has said
But the Spirit of God is racing ahead!

The gifts of God – the water and the word,
The bread and the wine, and the heart well-stirred –
Come to the church from heaven you see
From the Spirit that blows mighty and free!

Final Chorus:
It was a glorious day in Jerusalem
It was a glorious day in Jerusalem
It was a glorious day in Jerusalem
When Peter and Paul said to all of them:

The kin-dom of God is wider you see
The family of God is fuller you see
The Spirit of God blows freer you see
Than ever we thought that it could be

The gifts of God – the water and the word,
The bread and the wine, and the heart well-stirred –
Come to the church from heaven you see
From the Spirit that blows mighty and free!

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 Till tomorrow...

Altogether Different Oceans?

by David Weiss

Listening to the words spoken at the microphones about the Sexuality Statement and the Ministry Recommendations is a strange experience. The voices go back and forth from red mic to green mic, and it’s hard not to feel like we are already two churches, our deeply divided witness passing like two ships in the night.

But, no, even that analogy falls short. It seems more like we are boats in altogether different oceans.

Listening to our respective appeals to Scripture, tradition, and the Lutheran Confessions, it is hardly evident that those standing at the red and green mics are referring to the same documents. At one mic these foundational pieces of our heritage are deployed like a set of wagons circled against a hostile world. At the other they are lifted like a sextant, that trustworthy tool used by mariners to navigate with confidence in the absence of fixed points.

There seems to me to be two uncomfortable truths at the heart of this.

We in this church understand the place of our own experience in the life of faith in decidedly different ways. For some, experience is dismissed outright as utterly untrustworthy—especially in instances where it challenges the “reason” of the majority or the texts we hold sacred or confessional. From this perspective any appeal to experience is compelling evidence of a morally and rationally bankrupt position. To tender insight grounded in experience is to play right into the devil’s hands.

For others of us, experience—while by no means immune to critique—is regarded as potentially bearing profound and even sacred insight. It is acknowledged as one arena in which the Wind of the Spirit moves. It is an opening into which voices silenced by majorities can speak a word of truth, helping to interpret Scripture, to complete tradition, and to refine our reading of the Confessions.

The difficulty here is that these positions appear intrinsically polarizing. They are not different takes on the same picture. They are arguments about the nature of the eyes that see the picture.

The second truth is even less comfortable to name.

We have markedly different experiences of the God who has marked us in baptism. Although both camps seem hesitant to raise the stakes this high—at least not at the microphone—behind the differing positions we stake out explicitly, lie arguments unspoken that reach to the very character of God. What we read in Scripture, what we hear in (and silenced beneath) tradition, and what we carry with us of the Confessions is shaped by our experience of the God with whom we keep faith.

Now I need to be very clear, I am not suggesting at all that we are keeping faith with different Gods. I am saying that we are a people with profoundly different experiences of the God with whom we keep faith. And we have yet to be honest or compassionate about what that means for us as a church.

As Lutherans we speak of faith as relational trust. If we intend to be one church at the end of this week, perhaps the biggest task to which we will be called is this: to acknowledge that in this moment the way to keep faith with God is to live in relational trust with one another. To confess that this Ocean is both deeper and more mysterious than any group of us can fathom, and that every every voice on the boat has a witness to bear.

May it be so.

ELCA Churchwide Assembly Day Three

by Phil Soucy

666 may be the name of the Beast in Revelation, but in Minneapolis right now 66.67 is a glorious number... Just in case you hadn't heard from someone else, the Social Statement on Human Sexuality was adopted today with an exactly 2/3rds super-majority vote. Of 1014 votes cast.

It came as a surprise, no kidding, a surprise. I mean by that, I was sitting there staring at the numbers on the screen and realized that I had thought that we were not going to get enough votes. Not that I had decided that we were going to lose - I just thought that we wouldn't win. Make sense? Well, never mind,it made sense to me at the time.

It was an immaculate moment. Staring at the numbers. Immaculate.

We now have a document treating on sexuality that forms a far more appropriate basis for policy than that provided by the predecessor churches' documents. The great hope is that the church will be a better church for all of this. You will have seen the press release that contains our thoughts on this historic spiritual event.

And then there was the Scripture text for tonight's Goodsoil worship service at Central Lutheran Church, across from the Convention Center. Mark 4: 35-41. The story of crossing the Sea of Galilee during which Christ calmed the seas. The story in which it is said that "A great windstorm arose..." And it did.

We had a tornado, with not a lot of warning. The problem with being deep inside a large structure like the Convention Center is that you are completely insulated from what is going on outside. Suddenly there was a shrill lip whistle heard in Goodsoil Central and an authoritative voice said that "no option, you are required to go to the lowest level of the center and stay there. Tornado coming."

And it did, a real tornado. Came down on 12th Street between the Hilton Gardens we are staying in and Central Lutheran. All the tentage, tables, and chairs of the meal service and Pub that Central Lutheran had been using to support the assembly were pushed down and thrown around. Some of the table ended up on the roof of the Convention Center. We were hustled to the bottom floor of the Convention Center. The assembly kept meeting. Guess they thought the assembly was safe enough where it was. Luckily no one was injured near the Convention Center, and none of debris penetrated the substantial glass on the Center.

Then there was the storm in the Hall. Not a storm really, but certainly a tension of anticipation. The rule was that we would take care of the amendments to the Social Statement and then vote on the amended Social Statement. An Ad Hoc Committee had been formed to receive all the proposed changes to the Social Statement, make sense of them, and group them into those that the committee recommend approval and those it did not, with reasons. The ones the committee said to adopt went along fairly quickly. It was when the motions came up that committee recommended a No Adopt that the tension level went up a couple of clicks. These motions were very similar and clearly had the intention of watering down the Social Statement to accommodate more of the "marriage is between a man and a woman."

There was one brief moment when it looked like we were going to move without debate straight through the amendment we were working on to the actual Social Statement and vote without any parliamentary debate at all - just vote on the amendment then just turn right around and vote on the Social Statement, done. The motion was defeated, but it gave everyone a scare.

All the efforts to change the Social Statement to make it reflect a-man-and-a-woman bias, an exclusive bias, were defeated.

The time for debate had to be extended past the scheduled end time to allow for as much debate as had been scheduled. As the additional time was running down, finally a motion was made to call the question. And a vote was had, 676-338.

It was said that it was a close vote. Actually it wasn't. It was a vote in which the Social Statement received 2/3rds of the votes cast; that's not close.

Tomorrow we take up the Implementing Resolutions that flow from the Social Statement. And we will have the Committee of the Whole on the proposed change to ministry policies.

In the evening we had a most glorious worship, presided over by Bishop David Brauer-Rieke of Oregon Synod. Rev. Barbara Lundblad preached a spectacular sermon in which she focused on the questions contained in the Scripture cited above in Mark. More than 1000 worshipers filled the church at Central Lutheran, which had some damage to its exterior from the storm, but none to the inside.

Ross Murray said someone asked him if it was a sign from the Holy Spirit that a great wind arose when the question of the Social Statement was taken up in earnest. He said he replied that, yes, it could have been just as much a sign as was the sun coming out when the Social Statement passed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


by David R. Weiss

Some sense of divine humor.

A tornado grazes the Minneapolis Convention Center just as we wrap up a Bible Study on the parable of the prodigal son (though we had just explored it from many angles beyond that of the younger son).

The hospitality tents (dare we say, “tabernacles”) next door to us were twisted into shambles. And the steeple of Central Lutheran Church, where Goodsoil will hold an especially festive worship service later this evening was bent 180 degrees—straight down.

Before everyone races to presume that such calamities express God’s anger, let’s remember that for generations far past and far more intuitively attentive to such phenomena, such swirling forces were merely indicative of God’s profound presence.

Reread the description of Mount Sinai in the moments before Moses received the Ten Commandments and it could pass for our afternoon weather report here.

I am not necessarily racing to ascribe God’s hand to our winds, but for anyone who wishes to, let’s be clear that high winds may be required to bring about Pentecost when churches (and convention centers) no longer have open windows making for the Spirit’s easy entry.

And all of this was prelude to about three hours of testy (though mostly civil) conversation about the proposed Sexuality Statement.

When the vote finally came, it passed 676-338. You can do the math yourself: it received 66.6 percent of the vote. It needed two-thirds to pass. It got just that much—and nothing more. One vote less would not have been enough.

As I remember, God’s reply to Paul was “My grace is sufficient.” Not too much. But enough. Luther spoke clearly of “daily bread” as the things we need for this day—not for tomorrow as well. And when the Israelites collected manna in the wilderness, they always got 66.6—anything more than “just enough” got sticky with maggots.

So don’t read anything into the three sixes beyond a big smirk on God’s face. There are children coming home tonight, and She is beaming!

Churchwide Assembly Day Two

by Phil Soucy

Peace, Grace and Blessings to you...

I have to give Minnesota and Minneapolis credit. Picture this: the hotel we are staying in, Central Lutheran Church, and the Convention Center are in a fairly straight line, about 200 feet from the hotel doors to the doors of the Convention Center. But, you can't walk that straight line. There is the 12th Avenue access to 35W that runs between the hotel and Central Lutheran, a split off from which runs in front of the hotel. Between Central Lutheran and the Convention Center runs 3rd Avenue. But to get to the Convention Center you have to go from the hotel door up to the corner with the access to 35W and cross the street to be even with the hotel doors but on the other side of the road. Walk away from the hotel along the right side of 12th Street to the corner of 12th and 3rd, turn 110 degrees to the left to cross 12th Avenue, turn right 110 degrees to cross the divided boulevard that is 3rd Avenue, turn left and walk 150 feet to the doors of the Convention Center. You cannot
get to Central Lutheran direct line from any public place. A tour de force of separation of church and state, if there ever was one.

The principal activity on the assembly floor was related to the Social Statement on Human Sexuality. First, it was introduced onto the floor of the assembly. Following the introduction, the assembly went into a quasi-Committee of the Whole, for the purpose of having a discussion without the encumbrance of parliamentary procedure. People simply lined up at the microphones labeled Red and Green depending on whether they were against or for the adoption of the Social Statement. The Presiding Bishop, Mark Hanson, using a computer program that kept track of who arrived in the line at the mic when, called on people alternating between against and for until he ran out of time or people to call on.

More time had to be allocated because things ran late in the morning, and part of the afternoon had to be used to finish out the 60 minutes allotted for this discussion.

Later that afternoon there was a hearing held on the Social Statement, among other hearings. There was also a hearing before dinner on the Ministry Policies and one after - to allow those who went to the Social Statement hearing to go to one on Ministry Policies.

I will not bother to tell you the arguments that were made. You are perfectly capable of guessing all of the arguments from both sides. They have been made over and over again. I heard no argument, pro or con, that I had not heard before. That does not mean that the arguments should not be made. They should be.

It is important to note that the disagreement we have with those opposed to full inclusion is not over the authority of Scripture in the life of the church, or in the life of any member of the church. Scholars disagree on the interpretations of Scripture, and that is something Lutherans can do till the Second Coming. Questioning someone else's interpretation of Scripture does not constitute an assault on the authority of Scripture.

In the evening, we held a wonderful event with music provided by Ovation and a panel discussion by the subjects of the DVD sent to all the voting members, "One Baptism, Many Gifts." The DVD is a picture into the lives of faith of two dedicated lesbian pastors, Katrina Foster and Robyn Hartwig, and an equally dedicated gay candidate for ordination, Javen Swanson, including their families. Copies of the DVD are available from LC/NA for $5, at Goodsoil Central, Room 200, in the Convention Center during the churchwide assembly, and after the assembly from the LC/NA office in St. Paul or online through

Tomorrow brings the parliamentary consideration of the Social Statement and vote for adoption.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

God's Work, Our Hands

by David R. Weiss

While Churchwide Assembly will certainly address a wide range of issues beyond sexuality, it is simply honest to say that the Sexuality Statement and its accompanying recommendations are in the very air we breathe this week. It’s hard to hear anything said anywhere without immediately thinking about its relevance to the looming conversation about sexuality.

So, when Bishop Hanson further reflects this morning on our Assembly theme, “God’s Work. Our Hands,” and the question, “If I could follow your hands with a video feed for the last few weeks where would I see them doing God’s work?” well, you know where my mind went …

But before you scream, “TMI!,” remember, grace comes to us as bodied, not disembodied creatures. Jesus speaks of encountering him—or failing to encounter him—in “the least of these,” our brothers and sisters in need, because whatever Good News means beyond our bodies, it cannot be indifferent to our bodies.

And while doing God’s work surely involves putting my hands at the service of my neighbor’s need, it also involves placing my hands lovingly in pursuit of my beloved’s ecstasy. Soup kitchens and sexual joy are both instances of tactile grace, both moments when the “kingdom of God is … at hand.”

In this church, however, we tend to see sexuality—even while calling it “gift and trust”—as little more than “temptation to sin.” As though the best we can hope for is to hem in its potential for harm with a host of rules and boundaries so that we know at all moments what both our right hand and left hand are permitted to do.

The message is most explicit to our gay and lesbian members, but it remains powerfully implicit for those of us who are straight. We have learned too long and too well: making love, invoking intimate ecstasy in our loving relationships, is not God’s work.

But it is.

It is hardly the whole of God’s work. But I will say this. Sexuality is one corner of God’s creation where grace longs to be exquisitely present … and where its presence has an incredible capacity to heal and empower … and where its presence rests on our hands.

At times we seem determined as a church to hinder rather than welcome this Grace. But so long as the grace offered us by God through the goodness of bodily touch is shaped more by the long tradition of shame than by the deep (and holy!) intuition of joy, our response to the rest of God’s creation, from the pressing cries for economic justice and ecological care to the daring hopes for peace and flourishing, will be less than whole and less than gracious.

So, when I ask you, “when in the last few weeks or months have your hands done God’s work, offering someone a touch of grace?” I’m not trying to embarrass you. I’m trying to remind you that in our work to spread the gospel and to further God’s desire justice and peace we need all the grace we have available to us. And some of it—some wonderful portion of it—is right at our fingertips.

David Weiss is a theologian, writer, poet and hymnist committed to doing “public theology” around issues of sexuality, justice, diversity, and peace. His first book is "To the Tune of a Welcoming God: Lyrical reflections on sexuality, spirituality and the wideness of God's welcome" (2008 / available online and in Goodsoil Central). A longtime Goodsoil supporter, he lives with his wife and children in St. Paul, MN.

My story? No Problem.

By Rae Nelson

Every time I open my journal (yes, though I blog, I am an avid journal keeper as well) I am greeted by a flyer I taped there months ago that says "Change the world? No problem" it's cut from the newsletter of Interfaith Youth Core ( IFYC reminds me multiple times a day that I have the power to change minds and hearts through myactions and words- even though (or maybe because I am a 19 year old college student who doesn't know what I'm doing in a month, much less for the rest of my life). I am reminded daily by this flyer that I am a WITNESS- just as Bishop Hanson has reminded us many times thus far in the last 18 hours at Churchwide Assembly, reminded that we all have hearts and hands to witness, to change the world.

I enter this assembly with some trepidation. I'm at the time in my life where I have to be thinking about what I'm doing next- grad school, career, etc. Since I was very small I've tried to listen to God; about in the moment decisions like how to treat my neighbor, but also about longer term decisions like a career. I've heard a call to serve God as an ordained rostered leader in the past, and am currently discerning that more, but in the past few months I've decided to try to put that on hold. Let me share why;

Two years ago I attended my first Churchwide Assembly, August 2007. In July 2007 I had begun to come out as a queer person.
Needless to say, CWA '07 was an overwhelming experience. In the weeks leading up to the event, I had struggled with the idea of even being involved in the church anymore, because I felt as though the call that I had been feeling my whole life- the call to ordination in word and sacrament- was not possible in the church I had called home for 17 years. I felt lost and as though I needed to start all over.

While waiting in the airport for several other youth members of assembly, the staff person who was sent to pick me up began a conversation with me about call and vocation. It was through this conversation that I began to regain hope for my call to serve God as a pastor- he was the first person to affirm that I could follow that call, I just had to change the world (okay, church, but for the sake of this blog- world) first. He also was the first to remind me- out loud- that I didn't have to change the world on my own, there were a whole bunch of people who had been and would continue working for full inclusion for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities already, and I could join in the movement.

That day and week, Ted was a witness to me. He changed my world with words, actions, and just through his life as an active ally for full inclusion in the ELCA.

Now, two years later, I am in Minneapolis, praying, gracefully engaging, sharing my story, and yes, blogging to share my witness and hopefully through this active sharing and vigiling bring the church to an awareness of the Holy Spirit's call to love, regardless- or maybe because of- who we are or who we love. Bishop Hanson asked me to witness, right? No problem.

Airing Dirty Laundry

by David R. Weiss

That’s what I’m doing right now—literally. Cooped up inside my shoes all day long, my socks desperately need airing! That would hardly be blog-worthy, except they’re not my socks ...

You see, when Grandpa died quite a few years ago now, my whole inheritance consisted of a handful of neckties (which I never wear) and three pairs of socks. Not the sort I would ever buy for myself. Too thin, too patterned, they are the socks of a generation and sensibility quite other than mine.

But, back in his day, besides being a strong German Lutheran, Grandpa was also a proud union man—and not just a joiner, but a leader. A real voice for the little guy. Still, I have no reason to think he would’ve championed the cause of LGBT persons in the church. His sense of “the little guy,” the voices too often kept in the margin, was no doubt bounded by his day.

But I like to hope he would have. And now his socks belong to me. And while I don’t wear them often, on days like today I wear them with great intention. Wearing Grandpa’s socks I feel like I’m standing on his shoulders, while he somehow also gets to stand in my shoes.

Right now, Grandpa’s socks stink to high heaven. But to me—and perhaps to Grandpa, too—they smell like hope.

(But I promise to wear fresh socks tomorrow!)

David Weiss is a theologian, writer, poet and hymnist committed to doing “public theology” around issues of sexuality, justice, diversity, and peace. His first book is "To the Tune of a Welcoming God: Lyrical reflections on sexuality, spirituality and the wideness of God's welcome" (2008). A longtime Goodsoil supporter, he lives with his wife and children in St. Paul, MN.

Day One Update from Phil Soucy

OK, it seems such a short time since the last churchwide assembly, as if it was just 6 months ago. But, no, it was 2 years ago. And this time we are in Minneapolis, the home of so many Lutherans that you have to call ahead to have the supermarket put some jello aside for you.

There are some similarities to the Chicago churchwide assembly. In Chicago we were in hotels distant from the convention center and had to use busses to get there. Here we are in hotels distant from the convention center and walk to get there. Good for the waistline.

Oh, and remember that I mentioned the air conditioning in Chicago, that you could actually have stored meat in the open. Apparently the guy responsible for that has moved to the Twin Cities and has a job in the convention center in Minneapolis. It is a lovely facility with very helpful people, nimble considering they're wearing parkas. Ok, I exaggerate, a little, but it is more than just chilly: there was a run on copies of the agenda for the assembly. People were not carelessly losing them - lighting fires they were.

It is, in fact, a wonderful facility. Very modern and functional. Registration and reception of participants in the assembly was well-organized and quite efficient.

We have set up Goodsoil Central in a series of rooms on the second floor of the Convention Center. The main part of our space is a large open facility, divided loosely by hangings of stoles from The Stoles Project. A large screen monitor projects the proceedings from the assembly hall through webcast, both the plenary sessions and any press conferences the ELCA holds. Other rooms along the hallway house education and training, as well as a meeting room and administrative space.

We are having meetings with voting members who are supportive of full inclusion. We are helping our volunteers understand grace-ful engagement and how to tell the stories of their faith so that people realize the impact of a lack of full inclusion.

The assembly opened with worship. A joyous Eucharist celebration full of music, singing, and prayer. Bishop Hanson was the celebrant and preached about fear, fears, and how to overcome them through lives lived in imitation of Christ.

After dinner, came the first session of the assembly. Opened with greetings from the two bishops who serve as the twined hosts from the Twin Cities - Bishop Craig Johnson of the Minneapolis Area Synod and Bishop Peter Rogness of the Saint Paul Area Synod. In his welcome, Bishop Rogness spoke of the church sometimes sounding like musicians, none of whom were playing the same thing. But, instead of that being cacophony, jangling and disruptive, he demonstrated using music that the same disharmonies placed in the right juxtaposition could produce wondrous harmonies, a sonorous fugue of stunning beauty. He compared that to what was possible living together amidst disagreements, the roles that traditionalists, progressives, prophets could play, each contributing a necessary component to lift the music of a living church up from dull repetition into something with power, richness, and purpose.

Then the assembly got down to brass tacks, The Rules. This was the session in which the assembly decides upon the rules that govern its proceedings.

In 2005, this session was extremely contentious and went into the night past midnight. There are no attendees to that churchwide assembly who ever want to repeat that session. This session was long, but finished well before midnight.

The actions to come before the assembly this are on subjects about which people on both sides hold strong opinions. Specifically, the Social Statement on Human Sexuality and the separate Recommendation on Ministry Policies attracted all the heat tonight. It was announced that the four resolutions that comprise the recommendation on changes to ministry policies would be handled individually one at a time as they are in the order of business, the same fashion that the Church Council considered them in March 2008.

Voting members could ask that particular rules be pulled out from the general "pile" of rules for special discussion, amendment, or the addition of new rules or conditions. Pulled out for attempts to change or add provisions were the rule on the length of speeches, the rule regarding termination of debate on a given issue, the rule stating that the four resolutions in the ministry recommendation would be considered one at a time, and the rule requiring a simple majority for adoption of the recommendation to change ministry policies to allow ministers to be called who are in committed, monogamous, lifelong, same-gender relationships.

The Social Statement on Human Sexuality requires a 2/3 majority, a super-majority, for adoption because the constitution dictates that for social statements. This cannot be changed by simple action of the assembly, and no attempt was made to do so.

An attempt was made to impose a 2/3 majority requirement on the Recommendation on Ministry Policies. As well, an attempt was made to have the four resolutions of the recommendation on ministry policy change considered by the assembly in a stairstep fashion: each succeeding resolution being considered only if the preceding resolution had passed.

After lengthy debate, both of those attempts failed to pass. Likewise, an attempt to require that no motion to terminate the debate on a point, by Calling the Question, for instance, would be in order unless at least 3 persons had spoken on each side of the issue, and an attempt to limit each speaker to 2 instead of 3 minutes at the microphone in a debate, both failed to pass. Hours after the scheduled end of the rules session, every attempt to amend or add requirements to the rules had been defeated and the assembly was back to the rules as printed in the first place. They passed by an overwhelming margin.

So it is, in the end, as proposed by the Church Council: a 2/3 majority requirement for the adoption of Social Statement as is stated in the constitution and a simple majority requirement for the adoption of the changes to policy that will allow ministers to serve who are in committed, lifelong, same-gender relationships. These are outcomes to be grateful for, and to thank those who stepped to microphones and spoke eloquently, passionately at times, and thoughtfully in keeping the rules fair.

Still to come: the rest of the week, all the debate on the substance of the Social Statement and the Recommendation.

God's Grace, and Blessings to you all. Please continue to hold ALL at the assembly in your thoughts and prayers. We are one church, one faith, one Christ.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Goodsoil Central: alongside the Chebar river

by David R. Weiss

I’m sitting in Goodsoil Central. Outside in the hallway the signs assure me that I’m in Rooms 200C-H at the Minneapolis Convention Center, but I don’t believe them. I’ve read Ezekiel’s “Travel Guide for Exiles” and according to that I’m actually sitting alongside the Chebar river.

First, there are the stoles. Everywhere. Hundreds of them. The room is aflame with their colors. They are the legacy of the countless LGBT persons whose gifts have led them into ministry—and whose calls have been fractured by the fear of their respective churches. Each stole tells a story of gifts denied, of calls stolen (a linguistic irony to be sure!) not just from individuals, but from the whole people of God. This is the palpable anguish of our community, decked out in colors for every liturgical season.

But it’s the prayer shawls that really give it away. For months Lutherans across the country, both men and women, old and young, have been weaving, knitting, quilting, and crocheting prayer shawls for this Assembly. Prayerfully working their stitches toward the day when all of us are welcomed home. The shawls, hundreds of them, too, are simply piled high on tables at the front of the room. Many with tags identifying the person or the community whose love made this cloth as prayerful as the person whose shoulders it will soon wrap.

Starting tomorrow, as the Assembly takes up (yet again) the matter of “us”—debating whether the Bible or the tradition can support the wonders that God is already busily doing in our lives (of which the stoles are just a hint)—we will send some portion of ourselves into deep prayer. Carrying all the anguish of our past and all the hopes of our future into the presence of God, we will wrap ourselves in these shawls. Clothed in this love, we will tend to maintaining a contemplative quiet, steadying the words that others of us will speak in Assembly and enlivening the stories that others of us will tell over meals.

We, who are Goodsoil—gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and ally people of faith—are as yet exiles in our own church. Even as we hold our heads high, even when our hearts are happy and our spirits sound, there is no denying that the policies in place and the attitudes that remain pervasive in too many places mark us as exiles.

But in this room, we are exiles in good company. Besides the wealth of ourselves—and the energy of faith and hope is tremendous here—between the stoles and the shawls we have all the colors of the rainbow in this room.

And in my mind I hear Ezekiel speaking from exile (in chapter 1), “There in Babylonia beside the Chebar River, I heard the Lord speak to me, and I felt God’s power.” In this place where he ought, by all rights, to have felt utterly abandoned, he receives his powerful vision of four living creatures with wings: “The noise their wings made in flight sounded like the roar of rushing water, like the voice of Almighty God.” He describes “wheels within wheels” and “a throne made of sapphire” and “a human-like figure sitting on the throne who seemed to be shining like bronze in the middle of a fire.”

Finally, Ezekiel says of this heavenly figure who meets him in exile, “And roundabout shone a bright light that had in it all the colors of the rainbow. This was the dazzling light, which shows the presence of the Lord.”

Goodsoil. Good company. Here in the land of 10,000 lakes you’ll find us … alongside the Chebar river.

David Weiss is a theologian, writer, poet and hymnist committed to doing “public theology” around issues of sexuality, justice, diversity, and peace. His first book is To the Tune of a Welcoming God: Lyrical reflections on sexuality, spirituality and the wideness of God's welcome (2008 / David lives with his wife and children in St. Paul, MN.

A Theology of Hands: Rebuilding Zion in the Land of 10,000 Lakes

By. David R. Weiss

“God’s Work, Our Hands,” the theme chosen for the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly has a timeless—and yet ever timely—character to it. This is, after all, the very vocation of the people of God: to be doing God’s work … with our hands. And to be doing it with steady conviction and fresh insight in each particular historical moment.

As we gather every two years, Lutherans from coasts and borders, from edge to center, the task of each Churchwide Assembly is to imagine in the company of the Spirit and on behalf of the entire ELCA what particular commitments will shape our life together into the future opening before us. Our task this year will be to work out a theology of hands.

About 540 years before the birth of Jesus, our Hebrew forbears faced a similar prospect. Released from their exile when Persia conquered Babylon, they returned to the site of Jerusalem. Committing themselves to rebuild Zion, the city of God, their deeper project involved rebuilding their life together as the people of God. It was, without question, God’s work.

It was, however, less clear whose hands were welcome to share in that work. As these returning refugees began their planning, certain kinfolk of theirs who’d been left behind during the Exile came down from the hill country to the north, the region called Samaria. Eager to help rebuild the city, they were rebuffed. Deemed of a defective lineage. Rejected.

In doing God’s work, these Hebrews decided that “our hands” did not include “their hands.” Thus began centuries of animosity betweens Jews … and Samaritans.

Recognizing this animosity throws immense light on the scandal of the Gospel Jesus proclaimed. Of the ten lepers healed, only the Samaritan returns to give thanks. The Samaritan woman at the well might rightly be counted as the first apostle, the first to share the good news about Jesus with others. And the parable of the Good Samaritan, far from teaching the simple truism of kindness to those in need, declares the scandal of discovering that in God’s kingdom holy compassion might be modeled by those we least expect—and least desire—to receive it from.

When Jesus imagines “God's work, our hands,” there can be no doubt that despite generations of consistent animosity, despite an unbroken tradition of exclusion, the Good News is that “our hands” includes Samaritan hands. And far from a precursor to political correctness, this stance of full inclusion is a theological claim. It says that God is a God whose work can be done by hands long held unwelcome. (The same claim was made earlier by the authors of Ruth and Jonah, and by Third Isaiah—all of whom challenged the exclusionary impulses of Ezra and Nehemiah during the rebuilding of the city and Temple.)

This week, as we gather around the theme “God’s work, our hands,” the decisions we make about whose hands are welcome to do God’s work will often be portrayed as being about faithfulness to Scripture or tradition or confessional polity. But in truth the decisions we make about whose hands can be “our hands” in the ELCA —united in love and ordained for Word and Sacrament—are decisions about whether we can imagine and confess a God as surprisingly, scandalously, and graciously welcoming as Jesus’ God.

God’s work, our hands. Is your “our” as big as God’s?

David Weiss is a theologian, writer, poet and hymnist committed to doing “public theology” around issues of sexuality, justice, diversity, and peace. His first book is To the Tune of a Welcoming God: Lyrical reflections on sexuality, spirituality and the wideness of God's welcome (2008). David Weiss will be in Goodsoil Central from 12:30-1:30 for a book signing. A longtime Goodsoil supporter, he lives with his wife and children in St. Paul, MN.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Goodsoil Central Schedule

7:00am-8:00am: Goodsoil Singers in the Skyways (meet at Goodsoil Central at 6:45am)
7:30am-8:00am: Distribution of Devotional Book (meet at Goodsoil Central at 7:15am)
8:00am-11:00am: Plenary Session VIII
11:30am-12:30pm Churchwide Assembly Holy Communion
12:30pm-2:00pm: Lunch
1:00pm-2:00pm: June and Gayda Hollnagel "Justice Not Just Us: June Kjome and the Making of an Old Lady Activist" book signing
2:00pm-5:30pm: Plenary Session IX
5:30pm: Dinner
7:15pm-9:15pm: Goodsoil Reception
8:00pm: Drumming Workshop
9:15pm-10:00pm: Service of Hope and Healing

7:00am-8:00am: Goodsoil Singers in the Skyways (meet at Goodsoil Central at 6:45am)
7:30am-8:00am: Devotional Distribution (meet at Goodsoil Central at 7:15am)
8:00am-11:00am: Plenary Session X
11:30am-12:30pm: Churchwide Assembly Service of the Word at Central Lutheran Church
12:30pm-2:00pm: Lunch
2:00pm-5:45pm: Plenary Session XI
7:00pm-?: Goodsoil Celebration

8:30am-9:30am: Churchwide Assembly Holy Communion
10:30am-12:00pm: Plenary Session XII
12:00pm: Adjournment
12:30pm: Goodsoil cleanup

Friday, August 14, 2009

About Goodsoil

Goodsoil is a collaboration of organizations working for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families in the full ministerial and sacramental life of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). We work to reconcile our church’s policies and practices regarding same-gender marriage, blessings of covenanted unions, and the rostering of partnered LGBT ministers, harmonizing these with our shared values of faith, trust, commitment, monogamy, mutuality, and dignity.


Lutherans Concerned/North America
Wingspan Ministry of St. Paul–Reformation Lutheran Church
The Network for Inclusive Vision

It's About Reconciliation:
Reconciling all through Jesus Christ, God gave us the ministry of reconciliation. Throughout all of Goodsoil's efforts before and during the 2009 Churchwide Assembly, our work is to engage the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in love and in grace, speaking the truth so that we may come to renewed understanding as the Body of Christ, overcoming estrangement and discord.

It’s About Transformation:
Our mission is evangelical, recognizing how all human relationships are transformed in and through the encounter with Jesus. Set free by Christ in his forgiveness, and bound to the neighbor in love, Goodsoil grounds its work in the freedom of Christians to establish mutually supportive communities of love, care, and trust among God’s people, no matter what their sexual orientations and gender identities may be.

It’s About Proclamation:
We give witness in all ELCA contexts—congregational, synodical, and churchwide—proclaiming the message of freedom in Christ with boldness and power, as did Paul among the Gentiles, as did Peter with Cornelius, and Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch. We acknowledge and celebrate the public promises of commitment for all couples. We call for one standard of ethical conduct for all ministers—regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We encourage all members and leaders in the ELCA to similarly give voice to the transformed relationships they see before their own eyes.


Thursday, August 13, 2009


Hello! Welcome to the Goodsoil blog! I'm Dylan, and I'll be moderating the blog (with some help from my coworkers) during the ELCA's Churchwide Assembly.

We'll be posting events, photos, reflections from participants and staff, videos, voting results and more.

If you're interested in contributing something, whether it's a short prayer for the Church or daily reflections on the Assembly, let me know.

If you twitter, check out the hashtags #goodsoil09 and #cwa09 for updates.

In the meantime, have a happy and productive Thursday afternoon!