Wednesday, August 19, 2009

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.

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