For immediate release.
Chicago, IL, USA. The Conference of Bushes of the largest denomination of trees in the U.S. will meet this month in Chicago to weigh in on a procedure to receive pines to its Roster of Ordered Timbers.
The rules and procedures of Every Leaf Counts in America (ELCA) have long denied pine trees leadership roles, although the evergreens have been allowed to participate in the laitree. "We welcome pines to full participation in the life cycle of the ELCA," declares a letter from the Conference of Bushes written in 1993.
According to the earliest botanical manuscripts, especially the authoritative Historia Plantarum by Theophrastus, pines are considered needle-bearers rather than leaf-bearers. This distinction has long been understood as an unsurmountable barrier to coniferous service on the ELCA Roster of Ordained Timbers.
"The taxonomy is simple. The Botany is very clear about this," says Roy Oaken, president of Leaves Alone, a splinter group promoting leaf purity within the denomination. "Pines do not produce fruit. They are unable to make nuts. The Botany declares that we should 'be fruitful and multiply.' Pines do that, but not in a normal way, and we don't want our saplings learning about that or being told that it is okay. Our roots have grown a certain way for thousands of years, and we simply will not change our roots because the larger plant kingdom is suddenly more accepting of pines."
[Broadcasting note: In a departure from standard usage, the last two letters of Leaves are accented. Proper pronounciation of the organizational name is "Leave-us Alone."]
In August of 2009, members of the ELCA met in Assembly in Minnesota, one of the most densely forested states in the country, considered a sort of "tree Mecca." Two thirds of the trees at the Assembly were from the laitree, with the remaining voters perennials from the Roster of Ordered Timbers and the Conference of Bushes. The Conference of Bushes is made up of elected representatives of each of the sixty-five regional synods of the ELCA (including Sumac-Zion, a non-geographical synod). Bushes enjoy higher status in the denomination by virtue of being closer to the ground.
The Assembly voted to alter its traditional practice and allow certain parks and woods to accept pines as Ordered Timbers. No ecosystem that did not wish to have pines in leadership roles would be forced to do so. Still, for those evergreens which have been standing up against their exclusion from leadership, the decision was monumental.
"This is the day we've awaited for so long," said Ash Virginia Pine, director of Even the Leafless Matter (ELM), which rosters conifers unwilling to adopt counterfeit leaves in order to be accepted on the Roster of Ordered Timbers. "Our trees are just like the other trees serving in leadership positions across our forests. Science has shown that needles are, in fact, the same as leaves. They just look a little different and are a lot stronger. We actually consider our pines to be pretty special, and to have a particular role to play in the larger society. Think about it: across the country there are pines in millions of living rooms at Christmastime. The plant kingdom--indeed the whole world--is moving toward acceptance of pines. It is time for the ELCA to grow taller and accept our unique gifts."
Though the vote took place back in August, a plan to actually receive pines barred from the Roster has been slow to germinate. The plan will require layers of fertilizer from several constituencies across the denomination, including the Department of Vocation and Ecosystems, the Forest Council, and the Conference of Bushes.
The Conference of Bushes meets March 4-9 to look at a proposal for including ELM trees on the Roster of Ordered Timbers. ELM members are hopeful that the proposal will not include a rite of re-ordering, which would be tantamount to being torn up by the roots.