Here’s a brief (and as accurate as I can provide) summary in my words of actions taken at Churchwide Assembly relevant to GLBT people. Since most people present were not parliamentarians, the proceedings at time seemed confusing. There were amendments, substitutions and votes coming out of the woodwork! I admire Bishop Hanson. He was so good at keeping people informed, keeping the air non-confrontational, and leading us in a fair and impartial manner. It’s obvious why he is a leader in this church.
- The Memorials Committee recommendation to refer all memorials to the Sexuality Study Task Force was adopted. However, this memorial was amended to require the task force to address and make a definite recommendation concerning the ordination of gay and lesbian people. Prior to that amendment, they did not have to do anything with the referred memorial other than read it. Now they must take action and make a statement.
- A substitute memorial to allow Bishops to not discipline gay and lesbian clergy who are not in compliance was introduced and supported heavily by a group of Bishops. This memorial passed. It in effect allows Bishops to use their judgment whether to remove or not remove clergy from the roster.
- Very late on Saturday afternoon, a Bishop introduced a resolution to have the Bishops report to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly how they will enforce the policies of the ELCA. This resolution was a direct attempt to force the more liberal Bishops to bow to the conservative Bishops’ power. I do not know what effect it will have on the earlier memorial to allow Bishops to refrain from discipline. Time will tell.
Overall, it was a very positive time for GLBT people in the church. The Goodsoil service had 650 in attendance and was standing room only. There were so many positive voices on the assembly floor. Rainbow scarves which identified supporters were everywhere in the visitor area. They were very prominent when the Bishop recognized two groups at different times: young clergy under the age of 32 and the Lutheran Youth Organization. Both groups prominently wore rainbow scarves. It’s evident that justice and full inclusion will come and is probably not that far away.