In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Churchwide Assembly: Voting Time

I'll share another story from Churchwide Assembly for ALL of you who are interested. This story involves a lot of the policy in the ELCA precluding partnered GLBT pastors from serving on the roster. The main point of my going to Chicago was to help overturn the policy. Several synods (21, to be exact) passed memorials asking the ELCA to change it's policy. The ELCA wanted to wait until 2009 to make any policy changes. Of course, we want change now.

I was not a voting member. I came to visit and volunteer with Goodsoil. Most of my jobs involved watching, praying, and helping with the worship service.

On Wednesday, the memorials were brought up before the voting members. The debate stretched on for two more days (among other pieces of business). On Friday, the motion to change the church policy failed. We were all pretty let down. Other, more compromise-type, resolutions were going to be brought up after that, but it was clear that we were not going to have complete policy change.

Friday night, everyone was pretty demoralized. We gathered at Goodsoil Central, and people started talking...and talking...and talking. We GLBT Lutherans sure love to talk a lot. We wanted to share stories and thank people. In all honesty, it got too long. I was going to help J with a devotion (you can read the devotion here). We didn't get started until an hour after we were scheduled. It was pretty long.

Afterward, some of us went out...mainly to get away from the Hyatt and Navy Pier. We wanted to not be around more analysis or crying or hugging. We went out.

The next morning, I got up relatively early (if you consider 8:00 early). I showered and went down to Goodsoil Central, preparing to help pack up. I got a call from a Twin Cities number. The caller didn't identify herself. She simply said, "Where are you?" I assumed that this was someone who needed some help storing luggage (that's what I was working on at the moment). When I said I was at Goodsoil Central, she asked me if I was at the hotel. That's when I realized this was my friend, Melissa. She was a voting member. She said, "We need another lay male voting member right now. Get your ass over here."

It's at moments like these, when I confuse movies with reality. I said something quickly to the guy I was working with and ran out of the room. I had just missed the last shuttle bus to Navy Pier. I ran upstairs and started debating whether I should wait the 20 minutes for the next bus, or if I should try to run. It was 90 degrees outside, so the run didn't sound that appealing. I rant into a few other Goodsoil people and we decided to take a cab. I probably said something stupid to the driver like "Navy Pier. And step on it." When he drove us there, I ran out of the cab (one of the other folks offered to pay). I ran up the stairs and down the hall to the registration booth.

Then I stopped and waited for about another 20 minutes. I had to fill out a card, which had to be signed by my bishop and then processed. This took forever. I began to question why I had run when I would end up waiting so long to get the magic name tag that let me on the voting member's floor.

When I finally got in, I got my seat. I hadn't prepared for being a voting member at all. Since I had watching the previous day's proceedings, I knew where we were. But I didn't know any of the Goodsoil strategy. Luckily, I had a friend sitting in front of me who would give me a nod or a shake when I didn't know what to support.

Essentially, all I voted on was the compromise resolutions concerning GLBT clergy in faithful relationships. The only one that passed asked bishops to refrain from or show restraint in disciplining clergy who are GLBT and in faithful committed relationships. It was a small step, but not one that helps everyone.

Thus, I played my role in ELCA history!


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