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Synod assemblies Synod assemblies:

Holy Land, equal rights, violence top debates A

s synod assemblies came to a close in June, discussions focused on advocacy for peace in the Middle East, just and fair immigration policies, equal rights for same-gender couples and their families, gun violence and adequate health-care for seminarians. Six synods elected new bishops, and seven bishops were re-elected.

Greater Milwaukee, May 30-June 1, Pewaukee, Wis. • Affirmed Peace Not Walls as the means by which the ELCA implements its strategy for engagement in the Holy Land (www.; encouraged mem- bers to study the Kairos Palestine document (issued by Palestinian Christians as a call to action to bring about the end of Israeli occupa- tion); memorialized the Churchwide Assembly to commit to socially responsible economic practices in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; declared this year one of “Accompaniment with the People of the Holy Land” by promoting the 24th of each month as a day of prayer and solidarity. • Asked the 2013 Churchwide Assembly to call upon Congress to pass legislation that prohibits employment discrimi- nation on the basis of sexual orienta- tion or gender identity while provid-

Synod assembly reports submitted by Tracy Apps, Charles Austin, Sharron R. Blezard, Danielle Burrus, Robert T. Dealey, Harry Deitz, Neal F. Fischer, Karin Graddy, Marcia Hahn, Mary Housholder, George Kegley, Karen Krueger, Katie Livingood, Martha McCracken, Andrew Merritt, Linda Pedersen, Rachel Pritchett, Kim Rapczak, Kevin Stillson, Catherine A. Ziel, the ELCA Office of the Secretary, and from synod websites. Compiled by Abigail Accettura, The Lutheran’s summer intern. For additional reports see June 2013, page 40, and July, page 36.

ing for religious exemptions.

Delaware-Maryland, May 30-June 1, Ocean City, Md. • Sought adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for ELCA seminarians, along with health advocates for students facing major medical expenses. • Created a “PossABILITY Sunday” in May, encouraging congregations and special ministries to offer a worship service that highlights the issues of people with disabilities.

Metropolitan New York, May 31-June 1, Tarrytown, N.Y. • Called for conversa- tions among ELCA congregations, rostered leaders and the Conference of Bishops to explore how best to minister to same-gender couples and their families. • Urged the Church- wide Assembly to advocate for anti-discrimination laws on the basis of sexual or gender identity before Congress and to encourage synods “not to do business with companies known to discriminate.” • Asked the Churchwide Assembly to call on government leaders to support the Uniting American Families Act (a bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 to permit permanent partners of U.S. citizens and of lawful permanent residents to obtain permanent resident status) or to reintroduce it if immigration reform is passed without the act or its equivalent.

New Jersey, June 6-8, East Brunswick, N.J. • Advocated for reform of the criminal justice system; promoted restorative justice programs and other alternate strategies; commit- ted to the support and care of those incarcerated and those transitioning

36 The Lutheran •

to re-entry; supported the ELCA’s proposed social statement on crimi- nal justice titled “The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries” ( • Backed the Uniting American Families Act. • Resolved to advocate for an end to employment discrimi- nation based on sexual or gender identity. • Affirmed anti-gun vio- lence action by advocating for clos- ing gaps in the background check systems; prohibiting large capacity ammunition magazines; and encour- aging common sense, comprehen- sive legislative approaches to gun violence. • Promoted understand- ing and compassion for immigrant communities via increased discus- sion and education on immigra- tion reform movements; asked the Churchwide Assembly to call upon Congress to create fair, nondiscrimi- natory immigration practices.

Central/Southern Illinois, June 6-8, Springfield, Ill. • Celebrated the launch of “Pedal for a Purpose,” a 282-mile bike ride across Illinois June 23-27

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