Lutherans call for Medicaid expansion
Lutherans gathered at Lenoir-Rhyne University last weekend for the 2014 N.C. Synod Assembly passed a resolution calling for the expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina.
The assembly voted to encourage pastors, congregations, campus ministries and all synod members to contact their elected representatives and encourage them “to develop and vote for acceptance of the Medicaid Expansion,”
The synod will communicate its concerns to the governor and legislature, according to the resolution, and members are urged “to pray for just, compassionate legislation which will enable 500,000 more citizens of North Carolina to have access to affordable health care.”
North Carolina is one of 24 states that have refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Under the law, the federal government covers the full cost of the expansion — making Medicaid available to families earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level — through 2016 and no less than 90 percent thereafter.
Bishop Leonard A. Bolick presided over the assembly, attended by nearly 500 people.
The theme of the 2014 assembly was “Forward Together. In Christ. In Community.” This theme is also that of the synod’s current ministry initiative, which calls the synod’s congregations to renewal through prayer, scripture study and engagement with their communities.
The Rev. Dr. Marcus Miller, initiative coordinator, reminded the assembly that, “Forward Together asks all of us to pay attention to our communities and our neighbors invisible to us.”
Bishop Bolick told the assembly, “I believe God is calling each congregation to ask who we are. What should we be doing? How can that happen? Ministry is exciting work. Planning for the future is God at work in us.”
In other actions the assembly adopted compensation guidelines for pastors and other rostered leaders and a $3 million program ministry budget for 2015.
Bishop Bolick installed new deans of the synod’s conferences, recognized congregations and rostered leaders celebrating significant anniversaries, as well as retired rostered leaders including the Rev. Glenn Yount of Newton who was celebration his 70th anniversary of ordination.
In offering reflections to the assembly Bishop Bolick asked those present to think of who first told them about Jesus.
“Now think,” he said, “who in 30 years will name you as the one who told them about Jesus? The question before us is ‘What would God have us do to help the world know Jesus Christ as Lord?’”
The synod will elect a new bishop at its May 28-30, 2015, assembly. Transition Team chair Kathy Carr of Winston-Salem outlined for the assembly the steps which would be taken in the next year leading to that election.
The Rev. Dr. Bill Mims of Greensboro was recognized for his five years of leading the synod’s Book of Faith initiative, encouraging greater biblical fluency and a more profound appreciation of Scripture. The Rev. Dr. Carl and Miriam Fisher of Charlotte were also recognized for having recently received into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor Pat McCrory.
Chaplains for the assembly were the Rev. Dr. Mary Hinkle Shore of Brevard and Diaconal Minister Danielle Kosanovich of Salisbury.
In closing the assembly, Vice President Diana Haywood said, “Let us pray that God as our source of light will fill us with light and courage to be God’s presence in the world.”