Voting members at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly resolved during their session on Aug. 22 to advocate on behalf of a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, met here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participated, including 1,045 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly was “God’s work. Our hands.”
The Rev. Bruce Burnside, bishop of the ELCA South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, reminded voting members that Christians in the Holy Land are now less than 2 percent [of the population.” He added, “We in the ELCA are a good leaven in this dialogue.”
The Rev. Robert Giese, of the ELCA Northwest Synod of Wisconsin, shared Burnside’s concern. A recent visitor to the Middle East, he said, “The Palestinian Christians’ morale is at an all-time low. They are fleeing the area at an alarming rate.”
Former Minnesota Governor Al Quie, a voting member from the ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod, voiced a note of concern. He suggested the denomination “tends to show bias” for the Palestinians at the expense of the Jewish people who live in Israel. But, said the Rev. Herbert Spomer, of the ELCA Lower Susquehanna Synod, Israel has an advantage. “There is no level playing field,” he said. “Justice is enshrined in the Shrine of the Book but not in the hearts of the people.”
Voting members approved an amendment to the memorial that called for the ELCA to “evaluate and refine its peace-making efforts to demonstrate as fully as possible balanced care for all parties.”