Sunday, May 20, 2012

Supporting and protecting families

For the past two days, I voluntarily entered a large, windowless room, packed with all sorts of people, a good portion of whom were mostly twice my age. And it was there., as voting members of our synod assembly, that we did the work of the church, which sometimes gave glimpses of the work that God is up to in this world.

Yes, there were the inevitable resolutions and amendments to the constitution (although remarkably, two of those passed with 100% support.  That never happens.) And we did discuss and pass a budget.  We wouldn't have been doing our jobs otherwise.  

But the exciting part for me culminated in our discussion and action to support families.  Three highlights (briefly because it is early Sunday morning).

1) This resolution in support of marriage equality. It passed with 81% in favor.  It was a wider margin of support than I expected.  Here's an excerpt of that resolution that I loved:

WHEREAS the ELCA “will advocate for public policies that support and protect families” while the ELCA also “commits itself to continued attention to and discernment about changing family configurations and the ways they serve to shelter and protect relationships of mutual trust” (ELCA Social Statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust, p 24);
Therefore, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Northwest Washington Synod meeting in assembly affirms Marriage Equality in Washington state as a public policy that provides social support and social trust for same-sex couples and their families;

Sounds like dry language, but that is good news coming through.  Good news for families of all different kinds.  Hurrah!

2)We affirmed our relationship of support for our sister synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia and Other States.  Sounds boring, right?  Not so much.  See this guy in the middle?
That is Bishop Dietrich Brauer.  Looks young, right?  Yep. He's 29.  How does that come to be- a bishop at 29?  
Because not so very long ago (within living memory), the vast majority of Lutheran pastors in Russia were executed.  So ELCROS is a baby church, with young pastors.  Their territory is 40% of Europe.  
They have pastors, raised up and trained at their seminary, and they are serving their communities, with social service agencies and places of worship.  But their young pastors are often not being paid- even though their salaries are about $200 a month.  Do you think you could help? Send a check made out to Northwest Washington Synod.  Mark it ELCROS.  They'll make sure it's passed on. 

By the way, supporting those pastors means supporting their families.  Bishop Brauer and his wife (also a Lutheran pastor) are expecting their second child next month.  Being young means having young families.  Ministry is stressful enough as it is without adding in months of not getting paid.

3)The ELCA Malaria Initiative.  Awesome things are happening.
As one speaker said, "Tanzania is about the same size in population as Oregon and California combined.  Last year, 38,000 children under the age of 5 died in Tanzania from malaria.  If that happened in the States, from a preventable disease, our country would come unglued."  If you can give even $5, that helps.  Please give, and give generously.  

The ELCA Malaria Initiative supports families like yours and mine. I'm proud that my church is doing this work.

Thanks, NW WA Synod for the awesome assembly.  It may have been remarkably boring for most of the time, but we did some great work together.  

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