From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Assembly Declines Taking Step to Larger Church Council

Date Sat, 16 Aug 2003 19:19:08 -0500


August 16, 2003

ELCA Assembly Declines Taking Step to Larger Church Council

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- The 2003 Churchwide Assembly of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) declined to begin a
process that could lead to expanding the ELCA Church Council from
37 to 69 voting members -- one member elected by each of the
ELCA's 65 synods plus its four churchwide officers.
     The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of
the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 11-17 at the Midwest Airlines
Center. There are about 2,100 people participating, including
1,031 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is
"Making Christ Known: For the Healing of the World."
     The assembly voted 643-320 to adopt a recommendation of the
memorials committee to affirm the current model of the Church
Council, with 37 voting members, as the churchwide board of
directors.  But that vote came after a more narrow 428 to 554
vote against considering a substitute motion that would have
reaffirmed a request of the 2001 Churchwide Assembly to consider
a new model that would have a 69-member Church Council elected
largely by the synods.
     The Rev. Peter Rogness, bishop of the ELCA Saint Paul Area
Synod, offered the substitute, which he said would build "better
connections" within the church.
     The 37-member Church Council currently is elected by the
churchwide assembly.  Rogness proposed that consideration be
given to a larger Church Council elected by the synods that also
would replace the boards that currently have oversight over
churchwide divisions.  He said the net effect would be to reduce
the total number of people involved in churchwide governance and
could save more than $200,000 a year in meeting costs.
     Although Rogness' proposal was never actually before the
assembly -- technically at issue was whether or not to substitute
it for the memorials committee recommendations -- voting members
spent most of the debate arguing its pros and cons.
     David E. Laden, voting member, ELCA Saint Paul Area Synod,
said Rogness' proposal "will strengthen our connectedness as
congregations, synods and churchwide [organization]."
     Arguing against it, the Rev. Gregory R. Pile, bishop of the
ELCA Allegheny Synod, said it would centralize power.
     Ultimately, the assembly voted not to substitute it for the
memorials committee's recommendation.  By finally adopting that
recommendation, the assembly not only kept the current structure
but asked for exploration of ways for the Church Council,
churchwide officers and executives of divisions to have
systematic contact with the synods.
-- -- --
Information about the ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at on the Web.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

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