Notes From the 26th Annual Assembly of the Southwest California Synod
Pastor Ittu, Kenneth Roehrs, Joshua Nickel and I attended the annual Synod Assembly, which was held May 30 – June 1 at the Warner Center Marriot in Woodland Hills. Slightly more than 400 clergy and laity attended the meeting representing the 126 congregations of the Synod. Aside from a lot of good food, a lot of committee reports, a lot of prayer, and a lot of (somewhat on-key) singing, we voted to approve the following:
· To memorialize (make our wishes known to) the 2013 Churchwide ELCA Assembly the following:
o To commit to socially responsible economic practices that pertains specifically to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
o To urge the ELCA Presiding Bishop, synodical bishops, clergy and other church leaders to publicly support legislation prohibiting employment discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, and to urge church members to make this position known to members of Congress.
o To call on President Obama and members of Congress to pass the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) or its equivalent.
o To encourage anti-bullying programs, responsible control of deadly weapons, background checks for all gun sales, greater action on mental health and domestic violence issues, and to promote a culture of peace.
· A variety of people to various offices (i.e. Synod Council representatives). Among those elected were Pastor James Boline of St. Paul, Santa Monica – Synod Council Secretary; and Dr. Jim Gilbert of Bethania, Solvang – Synod Council Treasurer.
· To approve the 2014 Southwest California Synod budget. This budget contains a $95,000 deficit (down from a deficit of $225,000 in the 2012 budget). The Synod Treasurer in his earlier report stated that there has been a nearly half-million dollar drop in Mission Support since 2008, two-thirds of which comes from the economic conditions and one-third of which comes from congregations leaving the Synod or withholding funds.
· To elect the Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin as Synodical Bishop to replace the retiring Dean W. Nelson. Rev. Erwin will be the first partnered gay, and the first Native American, Bishop in the ELCA.
Thank you for letting me be one of your representatives this year – it was an honor and a privilege!