August 5-10, 2019

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Bishops, Vice Presidents and church council met on Sunday before the assembly.

We had a farewell banquet for Sec. Boerger.

Monday began with opening worship.

Meals together:


We kicked off the assembly, celebrated the capital fund appeal and took a first ballot for Presiding Bishop. The results will be announced in the morning.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

This morning I was congratulated for being “runner up” in the first ballot for Presiding Bishop. I was surprised it had been posted prior to the morning session.

Here are the results of ballot 1. 75% is needed to elect on this ballot. Our Presiding Bishop received 77%. However, we were soon to hear at the morning session that the ballot would be declared invalid.

We approved a Statement to the African Descent Community, and heard a detailed presentation on the budget.

We took the first ballot again, and Bishop Eaton was elected again.

Tuesday worship.

Synods sent 88 memorials to the Churchwide Assembly.

Quite a few of these passed en bloc. Those broken out of the block will be taken up tomorrow.

We heard a presentation on our Declaration of Inter-religious Commitment. Note the 12 commitments beginning on page 12.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

I’m appropriating some Milwaukee photos from Jim Gonia, Bishop of the Rocky Mountain Synod, who has an incredible eye for photography.

We bade farewell to Secretary Chris Boerger and his wife Dee Dee. Well done good and faithful servant.

We took up concerns about migrants, refugees and sanctuary.


Wednesday 11 a.m. Eucharist, sermon by Pastor Brad Schmeling:

At noon, 700 of my closest friends and I walked down to the local ICE and Homeland Security office, held a prayer vigil, prayed and posted 9.5 theses on the door at Homeland Security.




The Rev. Marilyn Miller, President of Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), Pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Milwaukee, WI:

Let us begin with these words from the Bible:

Hebrews 13: 1-3 Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.

We pray:

Forgive us our ignorance and our forgetting, Lord.  Some of us never paid attention to how our people got to this nation.  We don’t know our history.

Some of us were already here and our ancestors were attacked, destroyed and the land taken from us.

Some of us came on our own from Africa, the Caribbean and other places. Others of us were forced here in chains, robbing us of life, dignity, and all of the possibilities of being our amazing selves.  Forgive us our ignorance and our forgetting, Lord. 

Many of us present today are here by way of our families migrating to this land.  And yet, we have forgotten from whence we came and have no empathy for others who are only trying to do the same as our ancestors, seek a safer and better life.  Forgive us our ignorance and our forgetting, Lord.

Selected and adapted from Website by Fr. Jon

You are the God who bears the brunt of the question, “Why didn’t you stay where you belong?” You feel the embarrassment when we hear, “Keep your distance, you foreigner, with your different – colored skin and your strange-sounding speech, with your culture, food, religion, and clothing that are inferior to my own.”

You are the God who sits alongside those who work in sweatshops, with their bloodshot eyes and aching fingers squinting under the soul-less glare of a fluorescent light.  

You are the God who rises early in the morning with those who go to harvest fresh vegetables and fruits picked with fingers stained by the pesticide and fungicides that penetrate their skin…

Loving God, as we stand before you today, help us to remember that when we speak of immigrants and refugees, we speak of Christ.  Hear our prayers for necessary, just, and comprehensive immigration reform.  Make us strong in the work for immigrant justice and remind us that our work is no easier than the everyday work of our immigrant sisters and brothers.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen


In the afternoon session we heard from several visitors.

Cool art.

Sue Briner and I made a new friend.

Milwaukee Art Museum

Robert Moore and Mindy Makant

Lynnae Schatz, Caleb Parks and Ephraim Danforth from our Gulf Coast delegation.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

“Sexually-based violence is an epidemic. It has become a cancer… We join with churches of the world who reject gender-based violence.”

– Dr. Agnes Aboum, World Council of Churches


Archbishop Musa Panti Filibus, President of the Lutheran World Federation preached at worship today.

Clarence Smith, ELCA Church Council Member and Gulf Coast synod defector, was lector.

So good to be with colleagues like Kwame Pitts, who I was privileged to get to know when she did her internship in Texas.


How an experienced bishop survives a six-day meeting: Bishop Ann Svennungsen sports chocolate and three travel tumblers of coffee.


A Confession of our Complicity in anti-Semitism

Motion B: Resolution on the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to Condemn White Supremacy Submitted by: The Rev. Kerry L. Nelson [Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, 4F]

WHEREAS, we are members of the Body of Christ called to love and serve a hurting world; and

WHEREAS, each of us is called through our Baptisms to proclaim that God’s love is for all people, not just for people who are white; and

WHEREAS, we have observed with alarm a rising tide of racist rhetoric, hate crimes, and domestic terrorism in the name of white supremacy in our nation; and

WHEREAS, we have now seen again the terrible consequences of violence visited on immigrants and people of color in the name of so-called “Christian Nationalism” or “white supremacy”; and

WHEREAS, we now grieve with the communities of El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, who have experienced terrible losses as a result of mass shootings or racist violence directed against their neighbors, friends, and loved ones; and

WHEREAS, we continue to grieve with and remember the communities of Charleston, South Carolina and Charlottesville, Virginia, who have also been victims of hate crimes in the name of white supremacy; and

WHEREAS, as Lutherans, we have a unique historical calling to recognize, name, and condemn racist acts, imagery, and violence that seeks to injure, demean, or marginalize persons who are not white or Christian; and

WHEREAS, we acknowledge with horror that Christians, including persons raised in congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, have committed mass shootings in our nation; and

WHEREAS, we understand that interpretations of Scripture that seek to legitimize racism or white supremacy are false teachings that must be named and condemned as such by this Church with one, powerful voice; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, we the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America do hereby resolve and proclaim that:

1. White supremacy is racism and we condemn it;

2. Violent rhetoric against persons of color in the name of so-called “Christian Nationalism” is not a true Christian faith. It is idolatry and we condemn it;

3. The love of God is for all people, without exception, and we proclaim it;

4. The justice and mercy of God are for all people, without exception, and we proclaim this;

5. Our religious and political leaders have a moral responsibility to condemn racist rhetoric and to speak with respect for the innate dignity of all persons, regardless of their race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, or faith tradition and we call our leaders to honor this responsibility; and

6. Language that refers to people of color or immigrants with words like “invasion” or “infestation” or “white replacement” is racism and we condemn it;

7. We are called by Jesus to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” As persons called to love one another as God has loved us, we therefore proclaim our commitment to speak with one voice against racism and white supremacy. We stand with those who are targets of racist ideologies and actions. With them, we demand and will advocate for a more just, loving, and peaceful world where the gifts of all people are appreciated, and the lives of all people are treasured; and

8. We call all congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to engage in communal study of the structures and rhetoric that empower and fuel racism and white supremacy and to take to heart the teaching of Scriptures, so we may all be better equipped to speak boldly about the equal dignity of all persons in the eyes of God.



CA19.04.18 To adopt Motion B as amended.

Pastor Kerry Nelson, Faith Bellaire, speaking to the motion:

Our synod dinner together. Sadly Robert Rivera and Deidre Hayes were not able to be with us this week.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Above, The Rev. April Larson, the first woman bishop in the ELCA, spoke this moving blessing:

“Proclaimer to the proclaimers, priest to priests, Christ bearer to the Christ bearers, you are and have been and will be a blessing to so many. Your Mothers raise their hands and bless you. Apostle Mary Magdalene, Evangelist No. 1 from Samaria, the Great Confessor Martha, the Widow who gave up everything, prophets of the Great Reversal Mary and Hannah, women of courage and vision Esther, Ruth, Debora, prophet, musician, liberator Miriam, women of justice, Syro-Phoneician women Shiphrah and Puah, Daughters of Zelophahad, models of Christ, and the unnamed priest anointing Jesus’s head, pastor to Jesus. Mothers in faith Sarah and Hagar, missionary Priscilla, to you dearest priests and pastors, your mothers in the faith bless you and give thanks to God for your call as priest, leader, mother in faith, shepherd to God’s people. We celebrate you and we give God thanks for your leadership.”

Today’s worship was the highlight of the week for me. Tears flowed freely as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women, the 40th anniversary of the ordination of the first African American pastor, and ten years of ordaining LGBTQIA pastors.



The procession included The Rev. Maria de Jesús, 104 years old!

What a sermon!

Today’s Bible study was by The Rev. Dr. Niven Sarras, on Miriam.

Miriam is revered as a prophet in Micah, listed with Moses and Aaron. Miriam saved Moses. She cried out through the Holy Spirit, “My mother will bear a son who will be the savior of Israel.” She thwarts Pharaoh’s plan to kill all young babies.

Micah 6:4

For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,

and redeemed you from the house of slavery;

and I sent before you Moses,

Aaron, and Miriam.

Numbers 12:1-2

While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had indeed married a Cushite woman); and they said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it.



So good to catch up with friends and colleagues like Jim and Heidi Fowler.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Bishop Eaton’s sermon at closing worship: