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Report of the 2017 Northwest Washington Synod assembly

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By Alice and Bruce McCain

The assembly was held in the spacious facilities of Salem Lutheran Church in Mount Vernon on May 20, 2017. It was a beautiful spring day, and we were greeted by upbeat and lively instruments and singing. The opening worship was also lively and inspiring, led by Church of the Apostles, Seattle.

We quickly got down to the business of discussing and passing several resolutions.  One was titled “Ministry Support and Protection for Immigrants, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers,” and it asked that the Synod request the ELCA Church Council, and memorialize the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, to request that the Presiding Bishop communicate this church’s resolute commitment to the resettlement of refugees in the United States and to encourage steadfast support for this program to the U.S. president and members of Congress.  This resolution received the most discussion, including an impassioned speech by our own Pastor Paul (while wearing a pink bicycle helmet). It was strongly approved.

Another resolution requested that the Church Council of the ELCA initiate a review and edit of “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust” and bring this document to the floor of the 2019 Church-wide Assembly for a vote. It also resolved that Synod lay leaders and clergy continue to publicly speak and act against legislation that discriminates against the LGBTQ+ community in this country, and practices that persecute the LGBTQ+ community globally.  A companion memorial  resolved that if the Church Council of the ELCA cannot or does not wish to act on the Synod’s requests regarding a review, edit, and Churchwide Assembly 2019 vote on the sexuality document, that the Synod Assembly then memorializes the Church-wide Assembly to direct the Church Council to undertake such a review and edit to be voted on at the 2022 Church-wide Assembly.

The last resolution related to Washington State Initiative 1552, which would repeal Washington’s longstanding non-discrimination protections for transgender people and their families and neighbors. It asked Synod members to not sign the petitions, and, if the initiative makes it on the ballot, to not vote for it.

The assembly also approved three amendments to the Synod’s constitution and bylaws. One was to remove the requirement for including the financial contributions from congregations in the minutes of the Synod Assembly.  Another was to eliminate an unnecessary provision regarding the election of the Treasurer, who is now appointed by the Synod Council. And, the third was to make changes to the language concerning the clergy and lay rosters of the church.  

We also elected members of various Synod committees, officers, and Churchwide assembly voting members. Pastor Paul was in charge of the voting process. We heard an inspirational speech from the keynote speaker, Pastor Dan Rift (Director of the ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal).  Lastly, we heard from three enthusiastic vicars about programs affiliated with NW Synod with representation at the assembly.

It was an enjoyable experience to make new friends and meet with old friends.  Plus, the lunch and snacks were great.