Texas-Louisiana-Gulf Coast Synod of the ELCA held its annual synod assembly this past weekend, April 16-18, in New Orleans. Heidi Good provides the following report:
Bishop Rinehart gave a wonderful state-of-the-synod report. He talked about the controversial decision made at churchwide: namely, agreement with the Methodists! He did this half in jest, pointing out that there was huge controversy when we made a similar agreement with the Episcopalians, an agreement that led to various breakaway groups. Then he went back through the last 100 or so years, highlighting all the splitting-off histories in a rather amusing way. This was all done in preparation to discussing the elephant in the room.
He then went through all the resolutions about sexuality and ministry policies and how they passed, what they meant, and pointed out we’d had this discussion in this synod as well and had passed memorials calling for change. He went on to talk about how it’s really all about the different ways people read the Bible. This led to a discussion of what is church unity, and what must we agree on to have unity, should we have binding rules? etc... He finished by suggesting that, rather than condemn divorce, we should have discussion and form support groups for those experiencing divorce; rather than condemning alcoholics, we should start a 12-step program. Let's love and help people; by their fruits shall you know them. He got quite the ovation for that.
Later, he reported about our sister synods. He asked people from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Peru about the CWA09 sexuality decisions. They said they understand, it’s a justice issue. They get it.
Our other sister synod is the Central African Republic. At first they said they had no homosexuals, but on further thinking, they agreed that probably did have them, but it’s not safe for any of them to come out right now. So, no big hue and cry from our companion synods.
Bishop Rinehart has taken on immigration reform in a big way as a justice issue, which is particularly appropriate for the Gulf Coast region. He said that, in the last year or so, he'd heard a lot of people quoting Leviticus at him. He has responded by saying, How about a different verse from Leviticus? For instance, Lev. 19:34, where God says “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”