calendar December 8, 2009 in Communications

Bishop Hanson calls for unity at town hall


ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson hosted a "Town Hall Forum" Dec. 6, fielding a variety of questions on topics such as leadership, mission, evangelism, anti-racism and racial justice matters, funding, churchwide staff reductions and actions of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.

Hanson asked members to continue to discuss the assembly’s actions allowing persons in monogamous, accountable same-gender relationships to serve in ministry, and include those with differing opinions in those conversations; respect other points of view; and remain united as the ELCA. 

He addressed congregations that are redirecting or withholding funds to register disagreement with the assembly’s actions.   "Let me tell you when that line is cut, mission and ministry is diminished throughout the world and throughout this church," he told the forum audience.

He said the ELCA is a church where all people "can teach and preach" with the integrity of their convictions on sexuality matters.  The ELCA is also welcoming people who "are coming to faith or being renewed in their faith" because of the assembly’s actions, Hanson said.  "We can be faithful Lutheran Christians and live with that tension in the same church body.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that became our witness?" he said.

Hanson said he hopes that in the next eight years, the ELCA can train 1,000 evangelists to help the church grow, informed by global companion churches.  He also urged congregations to study the ELCA’s social statements alongside real-life social challenges, such as health care.  – ELCA News Service.  Read more.

The town hall received brief coverage on the Associated Press wire.

Video of the "Town Hall Forum" is at on the ELCA Web site.