The day began with Regions meeting to assign
first call candidates to synods. There
were 109 candidates available for 214 first call vacancies in the ELCA. Region 5 synods had 48 of those vacancies, received
11, with no first calls assigned to Western Iowa.
After lunch, the various committees of the
COB met. Reports from them will be made
later. I sit on the Congregational and
Synodical Mission Committee: New/Renewing Congregations. Our meeting focused on CW organizational
change that would increase emphasis on stewarding Mission Support, you will
find our report later in these notes.
The day came to a close with worship, with
Bp. Richard Graham, Metropolitan Washington D.C. synod, preaching and Bishop
Elizabeth Eaton, presiding. After a
dinner and reception together, the two new bishops were welcomed to the COB.
The chaplain for the day was Bishop Jim
Dunlop, Lower Susquehanna Synod. He led
the COB in Morning Prayer.
There was a report from the Presiding Bishop
Elizabeth Eaton, Pr. Wyvetta Bullock, and Liaison Bishops to the Church Council
on issues related to the Church Council action “to affirm the intention of the Presiding Bishop to convene a team to
generate recommendations to sharpen our priorities as a church and bring
greater clarity about what this church will do and will not do in order to
serve God’s mission more faithfully and effectively in the years to come.”
The COB then discussed Mission Support
actions of Church Council, led by Margaret Payne. Bp. Mark Narum, who chairs the CSM:
New/Renewing Congregations committee, also took part in the presentation.
The report included 1) acknowledging that the
current 55/45 percentage guideline for Mission Support is not sustainable and
to create a contextually sensitive, substantive, and collaborative process
which will result in synod-specific percentage goals for each of the 65 synods
and amending the constitution to provide for this process; 2) recommending the
hiring of new staff in the Mission Advancement unit for Mission Support,
including a Director, Assistant Director, and support staff; 3) endorsing the
principle that appropriate multiple streams of income may be used to provide
funding for the mission of any expression of this church; 4) affirming a
three-year experiment involving five synods to explore whether retaining some ELCA
grants and compensation for the synod’s Director for Evangelical Mission will
produce an increase in mission support and more effective management and
oversight for the sake of mission; 5) and thanking the ELCA Mission Investment
Fund for testing a “Synod Financial Services” pilot.
After a short break, we began the process
for electing the COB Executive Committee.
Both the Chair and Vice Chair are elected to four year terms, with the
three at-large members initially elected to staggered terms of 3-2-1 year. All of these are ecclesiastical ballots
within the COB. The first ballot for
chair was then held. After counting, the
list of candidates was presented and bishops were given the opportunity to
withdraw from the election of Chair of the COB.
Secretary Chris Boerger gave an introduction
to possible constitution changes at the 2016 Churchwide Assembly. In particular, note changes to 3.02. (reaffirming
this church’s resolve to serve the unity of Christ’s Church) and 3.04. (affirming
that our participation in the Lutheran World Federation is one way that this
church lives out its commitment to be part of the whole Church.
Also, much of Chapter 7 has been amended to
provide for changing “ordained ministers” to “ministers of Word and Sacrament”
in the churchwide, synod, and model congregation constitutions. This provides for the possibility of a
decision for the joining of the three lay rosters of the church to be
distinguished as “ministers of Word and Service.”
Also note 10.71., 10.71.01. and 10.71.02. which
provides a constitutional provision and bylaws to establish a new method of
determining mission partnership support.
The COB enjoyed a lunch and a recess
until 2:00 for a time of siesta/renewal.
Some of the bishops (those who serve on seminary boards and/or are
Church Council liaisons) met during lunch to discuss issues of theological
After lunch, the four persons from the
first ballot for chair of COB were reported and a second ballot was held.
We then heard a report of the Theological
Education Advisory Council by Bp. Herman Yoos. The seminary presidents were also present for
the session. We looked at the three
recommendations that will be going as a first report to the ELCA Church Council
in November. Each had several specific
1) Claim and name the
abundant gifts of our church to create and sustain a network of theological
education that serves the mission of the Gospel
2) Link vocational
discernment and theological education for specific target audiences within and
beyond the church, with a focus on those whose leadership will strengthen the
missional future of the ELCA.
3) Ensure the mission
vibrancy and financial stability of the seminaries of the ELCA as they serve
their crucial role in our theological education network.
We received a Campus Ministry update
from Pr. Don Romsa. He gave us a
comparison of the “old days” to 2014.
Most money from churchwide Most from other sources
Staff Had dedicated staff Now only LCM
models Most stand-alone sites Most congregation
Environments Students young and active Students older today
Three important components of campus ministry
today need to include acts of justice and compassion, worship that is filled
with mystery and grace, and a welcoming community that enhances relationships.
After a short break we held a third ballot
for chair of the COB Executive Committee.
We then heard a report from Bp. William
Gafkjen from the Word and Service Task Force. The ELCA Church Council approved the
presentation of a joint Lay Roster to the 2016 Churchwide Assembly. The Task Force will recommend to the Church
Council that a time of discernment for an “entrance rite” be a process that
will lead to a decision at the 2019 Churchwide Assembly.
Pr. Gregory Villalon provided an update on
the New Candidacy Manual. He walked
us through the wide variety of changes.
There are several things to note:
manual states policy and also provides examples to guide committees.
manual builds upon four basic principles each accompanied with leadership
a. We are church
b. We are Lutheran
c. We are church
d. We are church for the
sake of the world.
is a renewed emphasis on God’s mission in the world and how we actively
participate in God’s mission.
is an emphasis on discernment.
is an emphasis on health and wellness as illustrated in the Wholeness Wheel.
is a new candidate covenant form to assist the Candidacy Committee as it works with
candidates attending different seminaries with different tracks leading to the
is a new appendix A which provides an applicant to candidacy with an overview
of the process.
The candidacy information related to
applicants interested in the Word and Service roster will be added to the
manual after decisions have been made by the Church Council to move the recommendation
creating the new unified Word and Service roster forward to the 2016 Churchwide
Carlos Peña then delivered the report of
the Vice President. He emphasized
his joy of attending synod assemblies, his learnings at the Unaccompanied and
Migrant Children Consultation, his personal appreciation of serving in this
office, and he asked for our prayers for discernment regarding another
election/call process for vice president at the 2016 Churchwide Assembly.
The new Chair of the COB Executive
Committee was announced – Bp. William Gafkjen of the Indiana-Kentucky
The COB then heard process observations
from a three person team – Bishops Kevin Kanouse, Craig Satterlee, and Michael
Rhyne. They shared reflections on how we
worked together in that session, issues of which to be attentive, and ways to
improve our relationships and conversations.
The COB then attended the Fund for Leaders
Awards Banquet. This year, 235
persons were recipients of some type of scholarship through the Fund for
Leaders, totaling $1.6 million.
The Chaplain for the Day is Bishop Ralph
Jones, Northwestern Pennsylvania Synod.
He provided Morning Prayer and a wonderful sermon on the text for the
day from Job 7: 1-21.
The first ballot for Vice-Chair of the
Executive Committee was held after a time of prayer and explanation of the
duties of the Executive Committee.
We heard the report of Presiding Bishop
Elizabeth Eaton. She shared her many
visits across the church and around the world and some of the conversations of
which she has been a part. Her full
report will provide the closer details of her ministry on our behalf. The COB gave thanks for her and the
leadership she gives to this church.
Pr. Walter May gave his report as the Executive
for Synodical Relations. The
Synodical Relations team provides service and assistance to the Conference of Bishops
and the synod staff in our work and ministry.
They also helped coordinate the gathering of all Vice Presidents at the
Churchwide office, October 23-25, 2015. This time together will also include
orientation for 7 new Vice Presidents.
Pastor Eric Wester serves as Assistant to the
Presiding Bishop, Director of Federal Chaplaincy Ministry. He and his administrative assistant, Larry
Evans, manage the Washington D.C. Bureau for Federal Chaplaincy Ministries.
Summary serving in chaplaincy (Defense,
Veterans Affairs, and Justice)
Total military chaplains: 146 (48 active duty and 98 Reserve and Guard)
Veterans Affairs chaplains: 29 (12 full-time and 17 part-time)
Bureau of Prison chaplains: 4 (all full-time)
Chaplain candidates: 18 (seminary students and graduates awaiting
(pending): 31 (20 VA / 2 USAF/5 USAFR/2
Air Guard / 1 USAR/2 Army Guard / 3 USN/2 USNR / 2 BoP plus1 change of
endorsement / 3 chaplain candidates)
We received a report of the
Executive for Worship, Pr. Kevin Strickland, on the Worship Jubilee and
Communion Practices. Attendance at the
Worship Jubilee in Atlanta, which
followed the Youth Gathering, was good.
The lectures and music were excellent.
Concerning the study of Communion
practices, a draft final report was provided to the
COB. After the Church Council receives
the report in November, the draft will become public information.
After a morning break, we heard the report
of the Treasurer, Pr. Linda Norman. The
churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America had total
operating revenue and support of $38.8 million for the seven-month period ended
August 31, 2015, $1.0 million higher than expenses of $37.8 million. Net revenue over expenses is favorable to the
period budget by $4.8 million, and $0.9 million more than the seven months
ending August 31, 2014.
Income from congregations through synods in
the form of Mission Support income for the seven months was $25.7 million, 99
percent of budget, but unfavorable to the prior year by $0.6 million. The annual Mission Support budget for 2015 of
$47.25 million is $1.2 million or 2.4 percent lower than the amount received in
Total contributions to ELCA World Hunger for
the seven months were $8.7 million, favorable to the budget by $1.4 million and
favorable to the prior year by $0.9 million.
ELCA members and partners contributed $3.5
million for Lutheran Disaster Response in the seven-month period, primarily in
support of Nepal Region Earthquake Relief efforts and general undesignated
The ELCA Malaria Campaign has now exceeded
its $15 million five-year campaign goal. We celebrate that the success of this campaign
reflects the generosity and commitment of our whole church in this global
effort. We celebrate that the success of
this campaign has meant life-saving programs and supplies provided through
Lutheran companion churches and partners in 13 African countries.
Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the
ELCA has raised $62.2 million in revenue and commitments to date in this
five-year, comprehensive campaign. This
amount represents 31.4 percent of the total goal of $198 million by January 31,
2019. In addition to results reported
above, strong response to date has been in the areas of New Congregations, Fund
for Leaders, and Global Church-Missionaries/Young Adults in Global Mission.
Pr. Margaret Payne gave her report as the
Director for Mission Support. This
involved the report of the CSM Committee: New and Renewing. We had discussion related to the Mission
Support Strategic Initiatives for 2016-2018.
They include five parts:
1. Establish mission support tables in every
synod that are responsible for the development of a mission support plan with
clear, measurable outcomes.
2. Develop enhanced tools for stewardship
and mission support interpretation.
roles and accountabilities within the churchwide organization.
and Synodical Mission - Stewardship
Advancement – Director for Mission Support
interunit committee for mission support planning
the Mission Interpreters and Synod Communicators networks
5. Increase time given for staff gatherings
in favor of stewardship and mission support engagement
The report of the Secretary was given
by Secretary Chris Boerger. They have
been actively preparing for the 2016 Churchwide Assembly, August 8-13, 2016 in
New Orleans under the theme “Freed and Renewed in Christ.” As of September 14, 2015, 960 of the 980 voting
members of the assembly have been entered into the registration database.
A few memorials have been received and more
are anticipated in 2016. A significant
issue to be acted upon is the proposal to combine the three lay rosters into
one roster of ministers of Word and Service. Most of the proposed amendments to the
Constitution, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions are implementations of this
recommendation. Another significant
action of the assembly will be the election of the Vice President.
the information” from annual congregational reports:
1) 76.6% of our
congregations have reported, up from 74.2% last year. Special recognition to the Southwestern Texas
Synod, the Northern Great Lakes Synod, and the La Crosse Area Synod for having
100% of their congregations turn in their reports.
2) The baptized
membership of this church is 3,765,403. This represents a decline of 2.53% from
the previous year. The largest category of baptized membership loss was again
3) Average worship
attendance was 1,018,943 or a decline of 3.2%. While the average Sunday attendance per
congregation is 109, 61.1% of our congregations average less than 100 persons
in worship per Sunday. Of even greater
concern is that 35.6% of the congregations averaged less than 50 worshippers.
4) Regular giving by
members did not decline at the same percentage as the membership or attendance
declines. Financial stewardship resulted
in $1,752,813,988 given as unrestricted income to the congregations of this
church. Average member giving increased
to $544.66 or an increase of 1.58%. Designated
giving declined 1.3%.
5) Mission support to
synods and churchwide was down 1.13% to $99,379,449. The congregations of this church gave over $13
million to projects outside this country and separate from the Global Mission
work of this church. Total benevolence
giving, including mission support, was $206 million.
6) We are not a poor
church. Last year congregations added to
their endowments, memorial funds, and savings accounts $62,064,370. This brings
the total for these funds to over $2.3
billion. When added to the value of
real estate and other assets, the congregations of this church have close to $20
billion in assets.
During lunch there was an opportunity to meet
with Beth Lewis, CEO of Augsburg Fortress, or with the Mission Investment Fund
to discuss the Financial Services Pilot.
The COB reconvened to discuss the draft on
the social message concerning Gender-Based Violence. It was led by Bp. Jon Anderson and members of
the Theological and Ethical Concerns Committee, Mary Streufert (Director for
Justice for Women), and Roger Willer (Director for Theological Ethics). You can find the draft at http://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Current-Social-Writing-Projects/Gender-Violence, which has been
shortened and sharpened in its focus.
The COB commended it to the November Church Council meeting and a
commitment to share this important document in our synods.
Bps. Ann Svennungsen and Jeff Barrow provided
an update on the Women and Justice social statement task force. This is meant to be presented to the 2020
Churchwide Assembly. 100 listening events have been held so far
across the ELCA.
The afternoon the COB divided into interest
groups around various topics:
Immigration and Migration Issues in Europe, Candidate Formation and
Assignment, Racism, Suicide, Unaccompanied Minors, Gun Violence, and Preparing
for Retirement as a Bishop.
After we returned, Bp. Tracey Bartholomew of
the New Jersey Synod, was elected as Vice Chair of the Executive Committee
and Shelley Wickstrom, Alaska Synod, to the three-year term.
We closed the day with a group conversation
on race and racism led by Bps. Wolfgang Herz-Lane (Delaware-Maryland
Synod – death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore), Roger Gustafson (Central States
Synod – Michael Brown’s death in St. Louis), and Herman Yoos (South Carolina
Synod – shooting deaths by Dylan Roof in Mother Emanuel AME Church in
Charleston). Powerful, first-hand
presentations led to heartfelt discussion, clearly the first of many
Bishop Eaton reflected on the webinar on
racism that was broadcast, and they are planning another on criminal justice.
After process observations we held regional
dinners, conversation, and fellowship.
Chaplain for the Day was Bishop Robert Driesen, Upper Susquehanna Synod.
We began with worship in the Lutheran Center
Chapel, the offering being designated for Lutheran Disaster Relief to help with
domestic fires in the west and the flooding in
South Carolina. Presiding Bishop
Elizabeth Eaton was preaching and Bp. Michael Rhyne, Allegheny Synod,
From the conversation the day before on
racism, it was noted that the nominees on the shortened ballot for the COB
Executive Committee did not include persons of color. After conversation together, a motion was
made to have Bp. Guy Erwin, who has Native American ancestry, be elected to the
two-year term by acclamation. It was
The COB then continued an open conversation
on Eucharistic presiding led by Bp. Michael Burk. Generally, we as a church have decided that
no one shall preach or preside without a regular call as a minister of Word and
Sacrament except in certain circumstances.
One example is the “Guidelines Related to Synodically Authorized or
Licensed Ministries.” Individual tables
held conversation and will share comments with Bp. Burk of important questions,
synodical practices, and what assistance the COB could use to address further
questions on this issue.
After a short break, Bp. Julian Gordy led a conversation
on Unaccompanied Immigrant Children.
Members of the churchwide staff were also available.
We then recognized two ELCA Church Council
members who have been with the COB since Wednesday to reflect on their
experience: Hans Becklin and Christine Connell.
They noted that the COB faces similar issues that the Church Council
does but has a difference in style and depth of conversation. The experience of bishops holding
conversations in synods and congregations bring helpful insights. From the conversation on racism, they were
thankful for the honesty and the ability to be brave, vulnerable, and open to
see things differently.
At noon, the bishops enjoyed lunch and
fellowship. Those who serve as Church
Council Liaison Bishops had a brief meeting and others had the opportunity to
discuss natural family systems in the church, led by Mary Ann Schwabe.
The afternoon and evening were free,
providing a welcome respite from the schedule.
Along with naps, bishops enjoyed watching football or baseball on
television, having dinner together, going to a movie or a baseball game, and
The Chaplain for the Day was Bishop Kurt
Kusserow, Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod, who led us in morning
The final ballot for the one-year term on the
COB Executive Committee was held.
Elected to that position was Bp. Michael Burk. From this point forward, one at-large
position will be elected each year for a four-year term.
We then heard a variety of Committee Reports:
Bishop Formation, chaired by Bp. Kurt
Kusserow – They welcomed the two new bishops – Matthew Riegel (Allegheny Synod)
and Tim Smith (North Carolina Synod). At
eight bishop elections in 2016, at least six new bishops will be elected.
Roster, chaired by Bp. William Gafkjen – We voted
to approve recommendations of the committee concerning On Leave from Call
extensions, three-year waiver requests for specialized ministries, and requests
for non-stipendiary calls for both the ordained and lay rostered persons. These decisions are governed by the “Manual
of Policies and Procedures for Management of the Rosters of the ELCA.”
Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations, chaired by Bp. Don
Kreiss – A resolution was presented that the Declaration on the Way. The COB approved the following statement:
Be it resolved that the ELCA Conference of Bishops
1) expresses profound gratitude for the
Declaration on the Way as another sign of the ELCA’s commitment to making
visible the unity that is God’s gift in Christ (Ecumenism: The Vision of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 1991);
2) affirms the 32 Statements of Agreement;
3) requests that the Church Council accept
these Statements of Agreement and forward the Declaration on the Way to the
ELCA Churchwide Assembly
-- for reception of the 32 Statements of Agreement, acknowledging
that “receiving these agreements recognizes that there are no longer church
dividing issues with respect to these Statements…” (Declaration on the Way);
-- for commending to the ELCA the Declaration on the Way; From
Conflict to Communion; and the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of
Justification as resources for the common life of the church as we approach
2017 and beyond.
The “Declaration on the Way” is both an
expression of the consensus achieved by Lutherans and Catholics on the central
topics of church, ministry, and Eucharist and an indication of differences
still remaining to be resolved.
Two key points from the conclusion of “From
Conflict to Communion” document guided the work:
1) Catholics and
Lutherans should always begin from the perspective of unity and not from the
point of view of division in order to strengthen what is held in common even
though the differences are more easily seen and experienced.
2) Lutherans and
Catholics must let themselves continuously be transformed by the encounter with
each other and by mutual witness of faith.
The Declaration seeks from Catholics and
Lutherans at local levels a deeper commitment to Christ and greater engagement
and collaboration with one another. Thus the Declaration makes more visible the
unity Catholics and Lutherans share as they approach the 500th anniversary of
The Declaration contains 32 Statements of
Agreement drawn from the international and regional dialogues of the last fifty
years. This powerful litany of consensus reflects the real, if still
incomplete, common affirmation possible in these crucial and inter-related
It also treats fifteen topics that have
arisen in dialogue where there are varying degrees of doctrinal difference. A number of them are seen not to be church dividing,
and some possible ways forward are sketched.
This reception and affirmation naturally lead
to practices that advance the growing communion between Lutherans and
Catholics. Thus the Conclusion also invites the PCPCU and the LWF to create a
process and timetable for addressing the remaining issues. It suggests that the expansion of
opportunities for Catholics and Lutherans to receive Holy Communion together
would be a sign of the agreements already reached and the distance traveled.
Also, a resource for 2016 synod assembly
workshops and other events will soon be available called “Engaging Others,
Knowing Ourselves: A Lutheran Calling in
a Multi-Religious World.” Watch for this
new resource for conversations with Jews and Muslims.
Also, he gave a report on conversations about
racism, particularly with the American Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. He reminded us of the “Statement of Mission”
we have with the AMEZ Church. Please see
Theological and Ethical Concerns, chaired by Bp. Jon
Anderson – He reported on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation,
the Grace Gathering at the 2016 Churchwide Assembly, progress of “Women and
Justice: One in Christ,” the Table and
Font Conversation, and discussion of the “Gender-based Violence Social Message.”
Ministry Among People in Poverty, chaired by Bp. Jim
Gonia – Requested COB Executive Committee to talk about three questions at a
future meeting: Please share effective MAPP ministries in your synod? What barriers do you face? What approaches do you use to provide for financial
sustainability of these ministries?
Also, bishops were encouraged to find
opportunities to connect with MAPP ministries in their own synods.
CSM: Leadership, chaired by Bp.
Brian Maas – He brought two actions for the COB:
1) That the CoB endorse
the revised Candidacy Process Manual.
2) That the CoB endorse
the Report and Recommendations of the Word and Service Task Force. Approved.
Additionally, the Committee commends to the CoB the resources “A
Theological Foundation for One Diaconate,” and “Here a Deacon, There a Deacon,
Everywhere a Deacon, Deacon,” which will be posted to the COB Net Community
Synodical and Rostered Leader Care, chaired by Bp. John
Roth – The Shared Risk Fund provides protection for disciplinary actions to cover
the ecclesiastical process. No
contributions to this fund are required by synods at this time.
The Good Samaritan Fund provides financial
assistance for short term help. For
information on who is eligible, please contact the synod office. The Fund is financed from a variety of
sources – bequests, gifts from synods, endowment distributions, etc.
After a morning break, we picked up the
conversation from the Theological Education Advisory Council
(TEAC). We looked at the five governance
models from the Baker Tilly report, pp. 19-52.
We voted to reject the status quo (model option E).
Over lunch, those who serve on a variety of Ready
Benches met. Ready benches include
bishops who have a particular interest and are willing and ready to have
conversations with legislative leaders.
They include concerns with the Middle East, Immigration (on which I
serve), Domestic, Care of Creation, International, and Justice Is Not Just Us. The rest of the bishops spent time in
conversation, siesta, and renewal.
Bp. David Brauer-Rieke gave a quick report on
the Assignment Process of seminary candidates. There was a motion to create a working group of
bishops (one from each region) and staff from CSM to offer recommendations to
the March, 2016 COB meeting addressing the assignment process. It was agreed.
After lunch, Portico Benefit Services provided
its report by Pr. Jeff Thiemann, President and CEO. Medical intervention has helped turn fateful
diagnoses into chronic conditions that can be treated, and the aging, sedentary
population needs these medications necessary for life, so the costs go up
How can we personally address this
situation? Two ways: adopt a healthier
lifestyle, and 2) become wiser consumers of the healthcare dollars we spend.
spent $120M in 2014 in healthcare and prescriptions. Our claims continue to be higher for a group
our size. We are 11 years older than the
average group, have more stressful work, and have a higher incidence of chronic
conditions. As a whole, 72% have poor
nutrition habits, 51% have high blood pressure, 57% have poor emotional health,
59% get too little exercise, and 68% are overweight.
It’s time for Wellness 2.0. Portico will work toward helping members make
creative adjustments to their personal health plan, build concrete outcomes
through 2016 GO, and initiate conversation and collaboration. We need to have mutual expectations and take
health care seriously.
Can we agree to these three statements? Accept that we have a systemic problem,
recognize that we can change our situation, and start by strengthening
ourselves for ministry.
COB Committee Reports continued:
Academy, chaired by Bp. Larry Wohlrabe – He
reported on the 2016 Academy in Tucson, Arizona, entitled, “The Hard and
Blessed Work of Leading in a Time of Change” with key presenter Will
Willimon. Required reading is Willimon’s
book, “Bishop: The Art of Questioning Authority by an Authority in Question.”
Bp. Wilma Kucharek and Pr. Brenda Smith gave
an update on Book of Faith.
encouraged us to continue to lift up the Book of Faith Initiative through our
websites and other means. To access
resources, go to http://www.bookoffaith.org/
A special working group on the TEAC report
brought the following motion to send to the November Church Council meeting to
bring the sense of the COB on this important issue:
ELCA Church Council:
and peace in the name of Christ,
at a kairos moment for theological education in the ELCA. We are grateful to have been invited to
respond to the TEAC Report.
appreciative of the strong openness to imaginative and deep change that the
TEAC task force report has generated. We
acknowledge the courage of the leadership of our eight seminaries engaging in
these conversations. We remain sensitive
to the disruptive and necessary change these proposals will bring.
affirm moving forward in this urgent task. We have overwhelming consensus in our support
for TEAC proposal 3A and Baker Tilly model options A and B (Central System and
Limited Central System). Model option A
has the greatest energy among us; many were open to both options. The Conference of Bishops voted to reject the
status quo (model option E).
Conference of Bishops strongly advocates the necessary reform that best serves
the current and future mission of Christ’s church for the sake of the
moving toward a more centralized model for the sake of better stewardship we
call for innovation, responsiveness, accessibility, and flexibility. We pledge ourselves to this work with our
partners at our seminaries.
Conference of Bishops
We heard process observations and
bishop’s announcements. Prayers were
said for those who died at Umpqua University, the flooding in South Carolina, a
wide variety of personal and rostered leader concerns, thanks for the Youth
We closed the day with an Oktoberfest Dinner
The Chaplain for the Day was Bishop Matthew
Riegel, West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod.
Morning Prayer was led by Bp. Wolfgang Herz-Lane, Delaware-Maryland
In a closed, off the record session the COB
discussed the recommendations related to Ministry to Same Gender Families. It was led by Bp. John Roth, Bp. Mary
Froiland, Roger Willer, and chair of the Task Force, George Watson. After an extended period of reflection, they
will bring the recommendations to the November Church Council meeting.
The Director of The ELCA Campaign, Pr.
Ron Glusenkamp, gave us an update on the Campaign. For more information, go to http://www.elca.org/Campaign-for-the-ELCA .
The 2016 emphasis for The Campaign is World
Hunger, which will be the focus for the 2016 Southwestern Synod Assembly
Offering. Materials will be made
available to every congregation from churchwide. So, consider taking up this specific
challenge during Lent, 2016, or in some other venue. More information will come from the Synod
Assembly Planning Team. ( to remind you: The 2015 Western Iowa Synod Assembly
resolved to encourage congregations to double giving to World Hunger and
collect 100,000 lbs of food for domestic food shelves.)
We received a report from Bill Graves,
Director of Mission Builders. It
is an organization related to CSM that helps congregations build
structures. They have worked with 180
congregations and camps in 31 states and have built 230 structures. Utilization of the program has saved those organizations
over $25 million. FYI – Mission Builders
worked on American Lutheran, Haywarden. They work closely with members of the
congregations to build these structures, as well as with ecumenical partners in
the community. For more information, go
to www.elca.org/missionbuilders . They are looking for Mission Builder
volunteers, and you can request more information by sending a note to firstname.lastname@example.org .
We then heard process observations, gave
thanks for the outgoing Executive Committee of the COB, and sang the Doxology
together to close.