ELCA Holding Its Biennial Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is holding its biennial denominational meeting in Pennsylvania this week.

Kicking off Monday, delegates from across the United States converged at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pa., for the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.

The Assembly, which is scheduled to go from Monday until Saturday, has in attendance about 950 voting members from 65 of the ELCA's synods.

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The theme for this year's meeting is "Always Being Made New," which derives from 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

According to information at the ELCA's website provided by the denomination's Office of the Secretary, the theme stresses among other things the 25th anniversary of the ELCA's creation.

"The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is still comparatively new as a church body, and yet our roots are much deeper than our 25 years together," reads the entry in part.

"The taproot of our life extends through the histories of predecessor churches in the United States, through the formative witness of the 16th century evangelical reformers and their confessional writings, to the Scriptures and the word of Christ."

According to the ELCA, the theme also emphasizes the changes that are to come for one who has become a follower of Jesus.

"We are being made new every day. In Jesus Christ we are not unchanged. What God does in Christ is as radical as the death and resurrection of baptism, where new creatures in Christ rise to live 'no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them,'" reads the entry.

"We are beloved companions in one body, restored to a communion where the rich diversity of our experiences, wisdom and abilities serve the common good in Christ. The new creation in Christ rises to life among us every day."

The Pittsburgh-based gathering of ELCA members has a presence on social media, with the Twitter hashtag #elcacwa being used by attendees.

"We're off and running at #ELCACWA in Pittsburgh! I've been very impressed with the youth voting members I've met," tweeted the handle @ELCAYouth.

"There is 1 synod here in matching polo shirts. That's an idea I should have thought of. #elcacwa," tweeted Marc A. Stutzel of New York City.

"Lutherans at #elcacwa are using iPads to vote. No truth to rumors that the bishop's election will be decided by top score in Candy Crush," tweeted Andy Merritt of the New England Synod.

According to the 2013 Churchwide Assembly Program, the multiday event will be divided into sessions known as plenaries. The first plenary session began at 3:30 PM on Monday.

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