Our bodies nourished from a delicious lunch, we returned to the ballroom to hear the Treasurer’s Report and the Report on Compensation Guidelines. Dr. John White presented a report from a Task Force that had been established to review compensation guidelines. The proposal included 3 points: 1) The Task Force is offering no recommendation for a general percentage increase for the unadjusted minimum salary for 2016; 2) Congregations are reminded that current pastors will earn a “point” for each year of service and could be earning additional points as well; and 3) Congregations are called to revisit the housing allowance and/or housing allotment as real estate costs rise in different areas.
CHURCHWIDE EXPRESSION GREETINGS
Next Mr. Carlos Peña brought greetings from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and the churchwide expression of the ELCA. He reminded us that marked by the cross of Christ forever, we are claimed, gathered, and sent to do God’s work in this world. (Peña also apologized to those of us who may have been expecting Carols Peña the former all-star first baseman.) He went on to share how he has experienced “God’s work, our hands” personally in the wake of storms that devastated his hometown of Galveston, Texas. Sharing experiences from his family life, Peña spoke of the way baptism claims, gathers and sends each of us. He talked about the power of showing love through service to one other and gave thanks for leaders of the synod and for all synod congregations. Peña showed video produced by the ELCA, titled “We Are Church.” The video can be viewed in its entirety from the ELCA YouTube channel. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4nwZg-Uy2Y
The ELCA will once again celebrate “God’s Work, Our Hands” Sunday this fall on September 13, 2015. Peña reported on all the ways that our church is impacting folks in need across the country and across the world. Peña talked at length about the impact the malaria campaign is having and shared a story where lives were saved on the spot by providing medication. This impact is only possible through the support of individuals and individual congregations and synods. We can be proud of the work that we are doing together!
REPORT FROM OUR BISHOP
After introducing and thanking all of the synodical staff who work to lead the Metro D.C. synod, Bishop Graham addressed the assembly.
First, he discussed the Task Force that examined the compensation guidelines. The Bishop acknowledged the complicated nature of compensating rostered leaders, and he encouraged attendees to be mindful of the cost of living in this area and to think carefully about what we ask of our rostered leaders and to make sure they are receiving fair compensation.
Second, the Bishop talked about the new mission support “experiment” of sending 35% to the ELCA for the church wide ministries and using the remainder to support ministries of the synod. The plan is for this to be a three year experiment.
Sin of Racism
Finally, Bishop Graham spoke on recent events in Baltimore, Charleston and elsewhere. He spoke honestly about the pervasiveness of the sin of racism from which the church is not immune. However, he also spoke of the church as an institution called to combat racism and work toward justice. He announced a plan for some sort of synodical involvement or programming to help congregations and individuals continue to work toward racial justice.
Bishop Graham closed his remarks by noting a change in generation. Many impactful leaders who have gone before us in faith did amazing work. But he reminded us that current leaders have the same great asset in Jesus Christ. The saints that have gone before us will look down and will be proud of our work as well!
LUTHERAN THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY AT GETTYSBURG
Two representatives of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg gave thanks for the support the synod has given to Gettysburg Seminary and all the seminaries of the ELCA. Dr. Angela Zimmann announced changes to the curriculum, and President Michael Cooper-White encouraged the assembly to continue raising up new leaders for the church of the future. President Cooper-White assured the gathering that the church of the future will be in good hands, for which this synod can both give thanks and take some credit for its continued support.