Voting members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) approved a number of key actions during the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly held in New Orleans August 8 - 13. The assembly is the highest legislative authority of the church. 
The 945 voting members:
  • Elected William B. Horne II of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Clearwater, Fla., vice president of the ELCA. Horne was installed during closing worship August 13.
  • Accepted the "Declaration on the Way," a unique ecumenical document that marks a path toward greater unity between Catholics and Lutherans. At the heart of the document are 32 "Statements of Agreement" that state where Lutherans and Catholics do not have church-dividing differences on topics about church, ministry and the Eucharist. The document also presents the differences that remain.
  • Approved AMMPARO - the ELCA's strategy to Accompany Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities. The ELCA developed this strategy based on commitments to uphold and guarantee the basic human rights and safety of migrant children and their families; to address the root causes of migration in countries from Central America's Northern Triangle and Mexico and the treatment of migrants in transit; to work toward just and humane policies affecting migrants in and outside the U.S.; to engage as a church with all of its companions, affiliates and partners to respond to the migration situation and its causes; and to advocate for migrant children and their families.
  • Approved the Ministry of Word and Service roster. Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, ELCA associates in ministry, deaconesses and diaconal ministers will be a single, unified roster of Ministry of Word and Service. The accompanying constitutional amendments related to the roster were also considered and approved by the assembly.
  • Approved the 2017-2019 budget proposal. The budget includes a 2017 current fund spending authorization of $65,296,005 and a 2017 ELCA World Hunger spending authorization of $24.8 million; a 2018 current fund income proposal of $64,057,220 and a 2018 ELCA World Hunger income proposal of $25 million; a 2019 current fund income proposal of $64,151,175 and a 2019 ELCA World Hunger income proposal of $25 million; and authorizes the Church Council to establish a spending authorization after periodic review of revised income estimates.
  • Approved various memorials - or proposals - from the ELCA's 65 synods. In addition to memorials considered "en bloc," the assembly separately approved the following: deepening relationships with historic Black churches; toward a responsible energy future; repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery; peace with justice in the Holy Land; justice for the Holy Land through responsible investment; African Descent Lutherans; call to discernment on U.S. foreign and military policy; welcoming refugees; and supporting military personnel, veterans and their families. The Report of the Memorials Committee can be found here. 
  • Elected members to serve on: Church Council, Portico Benefits Services, Mission Investment Fund, Augsburg Fortress, Committee on Appeals, Committee on Discipline and Nominating Committee.
  • Adopted amendments to the ELCA Constitution, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions.
More details can be found at the following links: 

Southwest California Synod at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly 

Southwest California Synod members present 

Voting members from the Southwest California Synod Assembly with Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. The nine voting members included Bishop Guy Erwin and Vice President Randall Foster. Brian Etienne, Karen Moyer, Tempie Beaman, Caleb Crainer, Shannon 
Savage-Howie, Jennifer Amos Burgos, and Joseph Bulock were elected as voting members at the 2015 SWCA Synod Assembly. 

Pastor Caleb Crainer praying at morning plenary

Bishop Guy Erwin on the  Repudiation  of the Doctrine of Discovery   

Bishop Erwin spoke in favor of the Memorial for the Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery at the Churchwide Assembly. The text of his statement follows: 

I'm Bishop Guy Erwin of the Southwest California Synod, an enrolled member of the Osage Tribe of Indians, on whose reservation I was born. And I speak in favor of the memorial for the repudiation of the so-called "doctrine of discovery."

One might well ask why a symbolic action like this is important for our church to take - after all:

We can't undo what has been done to native people in our nation's long and complex history.

We can't return what has been taken away from some and given to others.

We can't, by an action like this, heal or repair the harm still felt by the native population-who suffer disproportionately from poverty and its effects: despair, malnutrition, and suicide.

But we can say, as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, that for us and for our house, we will no longer participate in the great lie that has declared native lives to be of lesser value than those of European settlers.

We can say that we will no longer promote the destructive myth that North America was an essentially empty land, waiting to be filled by God with industrious settlers.

We can say that we value and celebrate the lives and cultures of native people, as we did last night when we let the Houma tribe welcome us to their land, and not we them to our assembly.

And we can acknowledge that our nation--born for liberty and pressing ever toward equality and justice-was founded in tragedy: in dispossession, depopulation, and imported slavery. We cannot advance justice today by forgetting injustice yesterday. 

But today, as the ELCA-as the church-we can draw a symbolic line under this tragic legacy, reject this racist notion, and tell the whole world what we have done.

This we can do. Amen.