Wednesday Word

Pr. Cathy Daharsh

For the next six weeks, Pastor Paul and I will take time to share information in our Wednesday Words about important key decisions that were made at the 2019 Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly to further the mission and ministry of the church. The gathering consisted of over 900 voting members that included lay leaders, bishops, pastors, and deacons. Pastor Paul was one of the voting members that attended the assembly from our synod, Northern Illinois Synod. The theme for the gathering was “We are Church.” The assembly met August 5 – 10 at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee.

Two important elections happened during the assembly for presiding bishop and secretary. Below you will read about who was elected and what their duties and responsibilities involve.

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton was reelected on the first ballot. Bishop Eaton is the fourth Presiding Bishop and the first woman to become Presiding Bishop of the ELCA. She is elected to another six-year term. Before her election to Presiding Bishop, she served as Bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod.

The duties and responsibilities of the presiding bishop, as specified in the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions are as follows:

·         The presiding bishop shall be an ordained minister of this church who, as its pastor, shall be a teacher of the faith of this church and shall provide leadership for the life and witness of this church.

·         Be the president and chief executive officer of the corporation, overseeing the work of the churchwide organization.

·         Be the chief ecumenical officer of this church and its primary representative in the national and international interchurch agencies in which this church holds membership.

·         Provide for the preparation of the agenda for the Churchwide Assembly, Church Council, Executive Committee, and Conference of Bishops, and preside at the Churchwide Assembly.

·         Provide leadership and care for the bishops of the synods.

·         Supervise the work of the other officers.

·         Provide for the preparation of the budget for the churchwide organization.

·         Nominate and direct the work of the executive for administration.

·         Coordinate and supervise the work of executives of churchwide units.

·         Appoint members of all churchwide committees for which election procedures are not provided.

·         Be responsible for the chaplaincies of this church in federal agencies, institutions, and armed forces and provide for the pastoral care of those called to these ministries.

·         Recommend legal counsel to the Church Council.

·         Serve as an advisory member, with voice but not vote, on all committees of this church and all boards or committees of churchwide units or designate a person to serve as the presiding bishop’s representative.

Deacon Sue Rothmeyer was elected to a six-year term as ELCA Secretary and she is the first woman to be elected to this position. Deacon Rothmeyer is currently serving as executive for administration with the Office of the Secretary. She was installed at the closing worship of the Churchwide Assembly on August 10 and will begin her term on November 1.

The duties and responsibilities of the Office of the Secretary as specified in the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions are as follows:

·         The Office of the Secretary provides administrative services and tools for ELCA leaders who are serving this church in their congregations, synods and the churchwide organization, especially those given responsibility for governance of the ELCA.

·         The secretary interprets the constitutions and other governing documents of this church and is responsible for maintaining its rosters, the ELCA archives, and the minutes and records of certain meetings.

·         The Office of the Secretary receives the annual report of the congregations

·         The Office of the Secretary provides travel and physical arrangements for meetings of the churchwide organization

·         The Office of the Secretary compiles information for the online ELCA Directory

·         The Office of the Secretary staffs the nominating processes of this church and coordinates the use of legal counsel.

We hope that sharing information about important votes and actions at the chuchwide assembly will help you to become connected and engaged in new ways to our denomination, ELCA.