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NC Lutheran Synod-ELCA calls for repeal of NC HB2

SALISBURY – The North Carolina Lutheran Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), at its annual assembly, adopted on June 4 a resolution calling for state government leaders to repeal the recently adopted House Bill 2. The resolution also asks the synod’s congregations and members to call for the same, citing how the ELCA supports legislation and policies which protect civil rights and prohibit discrimination.

More than 500 members from congregations of the North Carolina Synod gathered for the June 3-4 Assembly in Charlotte. The assembly theme was We Are Church.  The synod’s bishop, the Rev. Dr. Timothy M. Smith, led the assembly in a Bible study exploring the theme from the perspective of Matthew 16.

Smith told the assembly in his opening sermon, “God is calling us out of the world into where we celebrate Word and Sacrament, reminding us we have a fire burning under us that we may be a light in the world. Come Holy Spirit, kindle in us the fire of you love that we might share it.”

The assembly also adopted resolutions which recognize the agencies and institutions of the synod, call on the ELCA to join other denominations in repudiating the European Christian derived “doctrine of discovery,” and recognize the faithful service of the late Rev. Dr. Gary Weant of Dallas, N.C., as synod secretary from 2009-2015.

The assembly voted to ask the ELCA to take specific actions demonstrating the ELCA’s commitment to “be a church that embraces each person and confronts racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, age, gender, familial, sexual orientation, physical, personal and class barriers that often manifest themselves in unjust treatment, inequalities, exclusion and violence.” During one of the assembly lunch forums, pastors Tim and Sharon Taylor of Raleigh led assembly participants in addressing “Does reading the label really help?” The workshop helped participants take a look at the “isms” which separate us in our culture.

For officers of the synod, the assembly re-elected Diana Haywood of Durham as synod vice-president, elected Doug Ramsey of Taylorsville as secretary, and appointed Terri Blake, CPA, of Crouse as treasurer.

The assembly elected members of the synod’s council and of synod agency and institution boards. Bishop Smith installed new deans of the synod’s 16 conferences, recognized congregations and rostered leaders celebrating significant anniversaries.

Four pastors were recognized for their service of 70 or more years in ministry: Luther L. Knauff of Conover, Donald W. Herb of Taylorsville, Glenn A. Yount, Sr. of Newton and C.P. Fisher II of Salisbury.

The assembly celebrated a memorial service in honor of the service of nine N.C. Synod pastors who have died since the 2015 assembly.

Bishop Smith reflected on his 10 months in office and shared his commitment to get to know the synod better through weekly visits with congregations. He noted concerns that need to be addressed in the synod and some new initiatives being prepared, including the establishment of a ministerial excellence fund to help reduce the economic stresses pastors and other rostered leaders face; a Partner Program which will encourage relationship building across the synod; and the publication of a 44 week study resource for congregations to use during the 500th anniversary of the protestant reformation.

In other actions, the assembly adopted compensation guidelines for pastors and other rostered leaders and a $2.9 million program ministry budget for 2017.

The Rev. Dr. Katherine Shaner, assistant professor of New Testament at Wake Forest University School of Divinity and pastor in the ELCA, and the Rev. Dr. Stephen Bouman, executive director of the ELCA’s Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission unit, spoke on behalf of ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. He announced that 62 new congregations of the ELCA are being established, half of them in poverty contexts, and that 134 congregations are currently involved in renewal efforts.

Synod vice president Diana Haywood, in her closing remarks, said: “Be reminded we’re on fire and that fire is the Holy Spirit … I’m excited to be a part of a church that’s making a difference in the world.”

More details about the assembly can be found at http://www.nclutheran.org/about/assembly.php

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