If you’ve been around Salt House for any period of time, you may have heard us talk about being part of the mainline Lutheran denomination. Specifically, the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). The ELCA is made up of approximately 9000 congregations across the country with 3.4 million members. And while we recognize the ELCA as our primary denominational affiliation, we at Salt House are committed to embracing the theological and cultural diversity of many faith backgrounds and traditions. There is no requirement for anyone to identify as Lutheran to be able to attend Salt House or engage in the life of the community on any level, including leadership.
The ELCA recently held its triennial Churchwide Assembly (August 5-10, 2019 in Milwaukee, WI) to worship, vote on matters of governance and policy, and be church together for the sake of the world. The churchwide assembly was full of important votes and actions, including:
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton was reelected for a second six-year term.
A declaration of apology to our siblings of African descent, which was received by the African Descent Lutheran Association with thanks and a call for accountability and living into the words shared.
Approved resolution declaring the ELCA is a "sanctuary church body," encouraging participation in the ELCA AMMPARO initiative for migrant children, discernment of care for our immigrant neighbors in our context, and the promise of forthcoming resources for this work.
Approved support for the World Council of Church's Thursdays in Black, awareness movement for a world without rape and violence.
Voted to commemorate June 17 as a day of repentance, in honor and remembrance of the martyrdom of the Emanuel 9.
Approved a declaration for inter-religious commitment, reaffirming ecumenical and interfaith partnerships.
Approved the recommendations from a strategic taskforce which has been studying how to work toward authentic diversity in our church.
Approved memorials: affirming but not "endorsing" the Poor People's Campaign, care for immigrants and refugees, and other statements.
Adopted a new social statement, "Faith, Sexism, and Justice: a Lutheran Call to Action," and its implementing resolutions.
Deacon Sue Rothmeyer was elected Churchwide Secretary, a full-time position which acts as executive administrator and leader on all constitutional matters and interpretation.
Constitutional change for Deacons (rostered ministers of word and service) to be ordained, from the previous practice of consecration.
Celebrated the milestones of 50 years of women's ordination, 40 years since the first woman of color was ordained, and 10 years since full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ clergy.
There’s a lot of ground to cover there, but we want to take a moment for clarification on one point - the vote to be come a “sanctuary church body.” Perhaps you’ve seen the stories on social media and the news about the this particular vote and it brought up questions for you about what that means for Salt House. In the past week, a video was produced by Fox News about this and, as you can imagine, it was not very affirming of the ELCA’s choice to become a sanctuary church body, particularly because it stands in opposition to our current administration’s actions against immigrants and asylum seekers.
Andrew Lewis, a Lutheran pastor in Macon, GA wrote an pastoral letter to his congregation about how this vote by the ELCA to become a sanctuary church body is re-commitment to a long-standing Lutheran practice of supporting immigrants and asylum seekers, advocating for humane treatment of detained immigrants, and that the ELCA will continue to speak out against xenophobia, racism, and fear-mongering against all people.
We at Salt House align with these practices and will continue to support the ELCA’s positions as we recognize our denomination being a sanctuary church body. We are grateful to be a part of an intentional, progressive community of churches that value the worth and dignity of all people.