Outrageous lies. Nasty rumors. Half-truths and misstatements. They are swirling all around us. The subject? Some of the actions taken at the August 2009 Churchwide Assembly (CWA) of the ELCA and how they impact Women of the ELCA.
I’ve received e-mail inquiries from Women of the ELCA participants including lines like “someone has told me …” followed by significant inaccuracies. It’s like an elaborate version of the childhood game “Whisper Down the Lane,” but the inaccuracies aren’t funny at all. Lately I’ve read some blog posts that claim outright lies to be absolute truths. So much for building up the body of Christ.
First, let me encourage you to contact me (1-800-638-3522, ext. 2740 or [email protected]) with any questions you may have regarding how any of the actions taken at the CWA impact Women of the ELCA in any of our expressions – congregational units, synodical women’s organizations, and the churchwide women’s organization.
Second, let me explain the relevant provisions of our constitutions which govern our relationships with one another. A congregational unit of Women of the ELCA will cease to exist if the congregation in which it is housed leaves the ELCA. The individual women from that congregation need not leave the organization. There are two ways in which they could continue to participate.
They could choose to join with a congregational unit in another nearby congregation. A woman doesn’t need to be a member of an ELCA congregation in order to participate in Women of the ELCA; she needs, instead, to agree to our purpose statement. There are some limitations with this option: a woman who is not a member of an ELCA congregation cannot hold office in a unit nor represent the unit as a delegate.
If there isn’t a nearby congregation with a congregational unit of Women of the ELCA, the women from the congregation leaving the ELCA could become individual partners and participate in the organization in that way.
If a woman holds an elected position with a synodical women’s organization or the churchwide organization and her congregation leaves the ELCA, she must step down from the elected position since an elected leader needs to be a member of an ELCA congregation.
Finally, some women are choosing to express their displeasures with some of the actions our church took by withholding regular offerings and Thankofferings to Women of the ELCA. Some may see it as a punishment. The real effect of such actions is to limit the mission and ministry of Women of the ELCA in the name of the one we serve and whose second coming we await this Advent, Jesus Christ.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA.