2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly

2013 Churchwide Assembly at a glance

Theme Always being made new.
Date & Place Aug. 12-17, 2013, David L. Lawrence Convention Center, 1000 Ft. Duquesne Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA
Voting Members 952 voting members from 65 synods and almost 10,000 congregations serving on behalf of the over 4 million baptized members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Always being made new

Theme for 2013 Churchwide Assembly

Always being made new. 25 years together in Christ.

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. - 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

We are a church that is deeply rooted — and always being made new.

If anyone is in Christ...
We are deeply rooted. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is still comparatively new as a church body, and yet our roots are much deeper than our 25 years together. The taproot of our life extends through the histories of predecessor churches in the United States, through the formative witness of the 16th century evangelical reformers and their confessional writings, to the Scriptures and the word of Christ. Our life is in Jesus Christ. We are deeply rooted in his word of forgiveness and the promises of God’s steadfast love and mercy. The word of Christ dwells in us richly. God nourishes us as one body in Jesus Christ with companions from around the globe who meet us at Christ’s table of grace.

...there is a new creation
We are being made new every day. In Jesus Christ we are not unchanged. What God does in Christ is as radical as the death and resurrection of baptism, where new creatures in Christ rise to live “no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.” God is bringing that new creation to life among us in the ministry of reconciliation. In that service we no longer see each other as we did before. We are no longer strangers, competitors or enemies to each other. We are beloved companions in one body, restored to a communion where the rich diversity of our experiences, wisdom and abilities serve the common good in Christ. The new creation in Christ rises to life among us every day.

Role of the Churchwide Assembly

The Churchwide Assembly is designated as the “highest legislative authority” in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). That means that the assembly deals with the purposes, functions, and directions of churchwide ministries. The assembly also addresses issues that affect the life of our whole church. In the polity of that Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, we have three primary expressions — congregations, synods, and the churchwide organization. As provided in churchwide constitutional provision 8.11.:

This church shall seek to function as people of God through congregations, synods, and the churchwide organization, all of which shall be interdependent. Each part, while fully the church, recognizes that it is not the whole church and therefore lives in a partnership relationship with the others.

One of the ways in which that interdependent relationship is practiced is in assemblies. Congregations elect lay voting members to serve in the synod assemblies. Clergy and those on the official lay rosters under call also participate as voting members in synod assemblies. Synod assemblies, in each biennium, elect the clergy and lay voting members of the churchwide assembly. Of the 952 voting members of the 2013 Churchwide Assembly, at least 60 percent will be lay women and men (50-50) and the remainder will be ordained ministers. About 10 percent of the voting members of each assembly are people of color or people whose primary language is other than English.

The number of voting members allocated to each synod is based on two criteria: the number of baptized members and the number of congregations in the synod. Some synods, therefore, have a dozen to two dozen voting members. Other synods have as few as four.

The voting members of the Churchwide Assembly gather as members — the baptized members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. They meet, however, not as a random collection of baptized members. They have been assigned specific responsibility to serve our whole church through the assembly.

Responsibility of the Assembly

The Churchwide Assembly, according to ELCA churchwide constitutional provision 12.21., must:

  • Review the work of the churchwide officers, and for this purpose require and receive reports from them and act on business proposed by them.
  • Review the work of the churchwide units, and for this purpose require and receive reports from them and act on business proposed by them.
  • Receive and consider proposals from synod assemblies.
  • Establish churchwide policy.
  • Adopt a budget for the churchwide organization.
  • Elect officers, board members, and other persons as provided in the constitution and bylaws.
  • Establish churchwide units to carry out the functions of the churchwide organization.
  • Have the sole authority to amend the constitution and bylaws. Fulfill other functions as required in the constitution and bylaws.
  • Conduct such other business as necessary to further the purposes and functions of the churchwide organization.