CHICAGO — The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) met electronically April 14-17, 2021. The council, which serves as the ELCA's board of directors, took action on a variety of matters intended to advance this church's mission and ministry.
In response to action taken by the 2019 Churchwide Assembly that declared the ELCA a sanctuary church body, the council approved a motion to recognize that the ELCA's ministry as a sanctuary church body is a public witness that calls ELCA members to value the dignity of each human being made in God's image. The council also encouraged an understanding of the word "sanctuary" that is rooted in the principles of walking alongside, or accompanying, immigrants and refugees but acknowledged that "sanctuary" has no legal or universally accepted definition. This action also affirmed the guidance provided in the "ELCA Sanctuary Church Guidelines" for ways congregations, synods and the churchwide organization can accompany and support the ministry of sanctuary.
The council approved a revision of "Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline," effective immediately and applicable only to conduct occurring — or alleged to have occurred — after the date this resolution was adopted. The document describes the grounds by which officers, rostered ministers, candidates for rostered ministry, congregations and members of congregations may be subject to discipline according to the practice of this church.
The council received the final report from the Mission Support experiment synods. In response, the council urged the churchwide organization and the synods to incorporate the learnings from the mission support experiments into future collaboration and encouraged the formation of a project team that would include bishops, churchwide organization staff and others to discuss future strategies for mission support sharing between synods and the churchwide organization. The synods that participated in the Mission Support experiment were: the Lower Susquehanna Synod, the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod, the Nebraska Synod, the New England Synod and the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod. "Mission support" refers to the financial offerings that congregations share with synods and the churchwide organization.
In other action, the council:
The council also engaged in:
The council also received reports from the church's presiding bishop, treasurer, secretary and vice president, and from the ELCA Conference of Bishops.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands.," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.
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