Establish and maintain relationships with churches and ministries beyond the ELCIC.
"We commit ourselves as church to equip all of us to be people in mission and to live as faithful disciples."
"We commit ourselves as church to encourage companionship and advocacy with those who are treated unjustly, whether in our local, national or global communities."
Vision for Mission
Following approval of the strategy for mission within the ELCIC in 1999 Vision for Mission, the Working Group on Mission continued to explore ways to meet the goals outlined in the strategy, keeping in mind as well the commitments of the Evangelical Declaration.
One action taken during the past two years was the creation of a short-term placement category for mission personnel. It provides for a full time two-year placement that distinguishes it from a long-term placement of eight to ten years plus, and from serving as a Volunteer in Mission. The Reverend David Kaiser is presently serving in this type of placement with the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Hong Kong.
Appendix 3 is the report of the Working Group on Mission. You will note that there have been further steps taken in our collaborative working relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with regards to joint placement of mission personnel.
NCC approved the Companion Synod Handbook in 2000. The Saskatchewan and Eastern Synods are formally involved in this program that provides a framework for a mutually beneficial ecclesial relationship between synods and ELCIC partner churches and in some cases synods of partner churches. Information concerning mission related programming may be found in the report from the Working Group on Mission. Particular attention may be drawn towards the creation of the Good News Partner (GNP) program. Our GNP, the Reverend Etienne Fomgbami is present at this convention and will participate in a forum on mission.
ELCIC and partner churches
The ELCIC enjoys a partner relationship with six churches within the Lutheran World Federation:
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Cameroon,
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea
- United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Argentina
- Lutheran Church in Peru
- The Salvadoran Lutheran Synod; and recently
- The Lutheran Church in Guyana.
In many cases, the ELCIC and its partners have provided for the placement of personnel, who in addition to a call to a specific ministry, act as an important point of contact between partners as we seek new ways of relating to one another. The discussions about the nature of our relationships and programmatic directions are ongoing. During 2000, it was possible for a self financed delegation from the ELCIC to make a journey to Argentina. This time together was very helpful in better understanding opportunities for further cooperation, based on the principles of the ELCIC's Vision for Mission.
We are very pleased to welcome to our convention, our dear friend and partner, the Reverend Angel Furlan, President of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELU) in Argentina. President Furlan will address delegates on the evening of July 6th.
Many of you will recall the presence of Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Palestine (ELCP) at the ELCIC convention in Regina in 1999. A resolution was passed at that convention requesting that steps be taken to develop a formal relationship between our two church bodies.
Due to the unpredictable nature of the political situation in the Middle East, plans for a visit were put on hold until the spring of 2001. During April 2001, Secretary Robert Granke conducted a mission to Israel to enter into discussions with the ELCP regarding the terms for a formal church to church agreement. The ELCIC has offered to work together with the ELCP in ways that will strengthen mission and ministry within the region of the Middle East as well as provide opportunities for solidarity, support and the education of Canadian Lutherans.
Relationship with the Anglican Church of Canada
The ELCIC and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) have continued to work closely together at a number of levels, laying the foundation for an ecclesial relationship and we are poised to move forward and open many new doors together.
The Anglican Lutheran Joint Working Group has facilitated the final preparation of the Waterloo Declaration. This important document is coming before this convention for approval. It is the intention of both churches that the Waterloo Declaration (Appendix 13) be accepted at the ELCIC National Convention and the Anglican General Synod. The Joint Working Group will make the same presentation to both assemblies on Thursday, July 5, 2001. Both assemblies will vote on the resolutions (see motion # 8 & 9, page G.5) at 2:00pm on Friday, July 6, 2001.
A number of joint activities are planned during the time of our convention and the Anglican General Synod that also begins on July 4th at the University of Waterloo. Included are a study session on Saturday and a banquet on Saturday evening in Waterloo. On Sunday morning a joint worship service will be held at the Waterloo Recreation Complex beginning at 10:00am. In addition to attendance by delegates from each national assembly, all Anglican and Lutheran congregations in the Kitchener-Waterloo region have been invited to attend.
Part of the preparatory process leading to this historic decision has included ongoing consultation and meetings between the Lutheran and Anglican bishops, as well as cross representation on the ELCIC National Church Council and the Anglican Council of General Synods. The ACC has been represented by Mr. Grant Hyslop on the ELCIC National Church Council and the ELCIC representative to the ACC Council of General Synods has been the Reverend Dr. Jon Fogleman.
NCC is highly appreciative of the positive working relationship that has continued as we move along in this journey together. Our Anglican brothers and sisters have been dealing with the legacy of residential schools. This continues to be a matter of significant concern for the ACC, the ELCIC and the Christian community in Canada. Our National Church Council has relayed our concern and desire to be in solidarity with the Anglican community during this time of crisis. We remain open to respond to this complex matter in ways that will be helpful to the Anglican Church of Canada. Our prayers are with the ACC and the aboriginal community as they seek to reconcile their past and resolve the outstanding legal issues before them.
God has led us to this significant historical juncture. May God continue to bless us on this journey together.
Lutheran World Federation
The ELCIC, as a member of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), has been very active in the life of the LWF these past few years, both at the international level as well as in the region (Appendix 14).
The most significant decision, related to the LWF, taken in the past biennium occurred at the LWF council meeting in June 2000 in Turku, Finland. The LWF accepted the ELCIC invitation to host the 10th Assembly of the LWF in Winnipeg from July 21 to 31, 2003.
This decision has resulted in a number of actions, all in preparation for the single most important event in the life of this communion of churches. An Assembly Planning Committee (APC) has been appointed by the LWF, including Robert Granke as a member and Christie Morrow as a youth consultant.
An Assembly Local Committee is in the process of being recruited. This largely Winnipeg based committee will attend to all of the local logistics and provide ELCIC input into assisting the delegates as they seek to become familiar with the context for the Assembly. There will be opportunities for pre- and post-assembly visits. Many delegates from the one hundred & thirty-one member countries will wish to take advantage of the opportunity to make a visit within the ELCIC and the ELCA, either before or after the Assembly.
The APC has already begun to flesh out the theme identified by the LWF: "For the Healing of the World". This theme is an appropriate one for the ELCIC as well. We look forward to working through the Assembly planning process to explore ways in which delegates may identify with this theme while in Canada.
An event of this magnitude represents a significant undertaking on the part of the host church. To assist with this process, the ELCIC has engaged Heidi Wilker to serve as the Assembly Logistics Coordinator. Robert Granke also serves as the chair of the Assembly Local Committee.
We value and highly appreciate the opportunity to serve as host of the LWF Assembly. Our church will benefit in many ways, It is our hope and expectation that the encounters we will have with the planning teams and representatives from the member churches will leave a lasting legacy to the ELCIC.
There are many other ways in which the ELCIC continues to participate in the life of the LWF. Bishop Sartison is a member of the LWF Council. The Reverend Susan Johnson is an advisory member to the LWF committee on Ecumenical Affairs. Secretary Robert Granke serves as an advisory member to the Department for Mission and Development's project committee as well as the standing committee of the Department for World Service. ELW Executive Director Ruth Vince serves as the ELCIC liaison to the LWF desk for Women in Church and Society. (WICAS) The Reverend Eddie Kwok and Ms. Carolyn Iles serve as ELCIC representatives with the LWF to the International Christian Education Network. (ICENET).
The LWF regional committee sponsored a consultation on mission in North America in November 2000. Representatives from the ELCIC and ELCA, together with a delegation from the LWF, considered opportunities for mission in North America and attempted to better understand what it means to be a communion of churches in this region of the LWF.
Recently, the ELCIC took part in discussions that led to the creation of the Canadian Churches for Justice and Peace (CCJP). CCJP is an umbrella organization that coordinates the multiple ways that the ecumenical community relates to matters of justice and peace. This single organization will be a less expensive and administratively efficient mechanism for churches wishing to support the important work of the Canadian church coalitions. The Reverend David Pfrimmer was appointed as the ELCIC representative to the CCJP Board of Directors.
LWF Statement on Jerusalem
In March 2000, the NCC took steps to endorse the LWF Statement on Jerusalem, which was acted upon by the LWF during the Ninth LWF Assembly in Hong Kong. The statement is as follows:
As we approach the year 2000, with the peace process in the Middle East at a difficult stage and the status of Jerusalem still unresolved, the Lutheran World Federation:
- reaffirms that Jerusalem is the city of two nations-Israel and Palestine-in which both practice their human and national rights;
- reiterates that Jerusalem is a city significant for three religions-Judaism, Christianity and Islam-in which they practice their full rights of freedom of worship and religion for individuals and religious communities, as well as civil and historical rights which enable them to carry out their religious, educational, medical and other activities;
- states that the current settlement policy jeopardizes the peace process and that changes in the situation in Jerusalem with regard to demography and the land should take place only in the context of negotiations;
- calls on the Israeli government and the Palestinian National Authority to resume their political negotiations immediately so that suffering will be lessened and the development of extremism of various kinds will be curbed;
- affirms that peace cannot take root in the Middle East without a process of reconciliation in which the churches should have a role with regard to peace education and building mutual understanding and confidence;
- encourages the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Palestine to continue ecumenically its dialogue among adherents of the three major religions in order that the peoples can be reconciled and become a strong basis for a durable just peace among the Palestinians and Israelis; and
- affirms its willingness and efforts to promote awareness among the churches on this issue and facilitate dialogue until justice, peace and reconciliation abound.
Relationship with Canadian Lutheran World Relief
The ELCIC and Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) agreed in September 1999 to the terms of a memorandum of understanding that provides for an operating framework for our church and the agency. Each year, representatives from CLWR and the ELCIC meet to discuss issues of mutual concern.
In addition, the ELCIC convenes a gathering of the ELCIC appointees to the CLWR Board. This provides an opportunity to clarify ELCIC policies, which may have an impact on our working relationship.
All of these linkages have served as useful points of contact and forums for dialogue. The ELCIC appreciates the positive approach the agency has taken towards ongoing discussion on issues that arise.
Some specific matters are in the process of being reviewed, including support for ELCIC partner church development projects, international tours, as well as ELCIC and CLWR long term plans and policy directions.
We look forward to an even greater degree of cooperation in the coming years with CLWR.
Ministry in the North
Soon after the 1999 convention, the ELCIC bishops and Secretary entered into conversations with the Lutheran Association of Missionary Pilots (LAMP) and On Eagle's Wings (OEW) regarding collaboration in ministry in the northern regions of Canada, including the Territories.
During this time, significant changes occurred in the organizational structure of LAMP resulting in the incorporation of LAMP Canada as a stand-alone entity.
While the ELCIC appreciated the histories of the two organizations and the reasons why there are two agencies doing work of a similar nature, it was the position of the ELCIC that there needs to be conversation between LAMP Canada and OEW about how they might collaborate. Such conversations should also explore how they will assign territorial responsibility and consideration of a possible merger or amalgamation.
In March 2001, NCC conditionally approved endorsement of both organizations pending clarification of these issues and ELCIC approval of fundraising approaches within ELCIC congregations. It has also been proposed that a trilateral meeting between the ELCIC and the two agencies be held in 2002.
Conversation with the United Church of Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada and the Christian Reformed Church
Steps have been taken to begin the process of arranging for a conversation with the United, Presbyterian and Reformed Churches in Canada. A small group has been identified to meet and consider the terms of reference and parameters for this conversation. As this process begins, the steps that have been taken by other related Church bodies will be taken into account.
A Welcoming Place
At the ELCIC National Convention in Regina in 1999, approval was given to a long term goal stating "that the ELCIC strive to create an environment to enable the development of policies and ministries that will assist the church in becoming a more inclusive and welcoming place for gay and lesbian people and their families."
The ELCIC National Church Council created a task force to give direction to how our church might respond to this goal. During the course of the past two years, a number of activities have assisted the ELCIC as it works towards making our church a more inclusive and welcoming place.
Caring Conversations have occurred in all Synods of the ELCIC. The feedback received has been very positive. The steps we have taken as a church and communities to listen to the experience of gay and lesbian people has opened new lines of communication and understanding between people who have often not had much contact with one another. While these events were designed to mainly "listen," they have also had the positive effect of opening up dialogue.
The ELCIC has released a revision to the Six Studies on Homosexuality that was originally produced in 1985. We give thanks for the fine work of the Reverend Dr. Erwin Buck on the recently released Study on Homosexuality and the Church. This study is now in the hands of all congregations. NCC is hopeful that many congregations will engage in study and discernment on this important and relevant topic. Also included in the study are a revised Caring Conversation guide and extensive bibliography.
The National Church Council has requested the task force consider the production of new resources that will assist congregations as they seek to become a welcoming place. This task will begin in the fall of 2001. There will be an opportunity at this convention to learn from the experiences of congregations already involved in the conversation and study process. A forum entitled "A Welcoming Place - How do we get there?" will be conducted on July 6th.
Lutheran Council in Canada
Appendix 15 represents a report on the activities related to the Lutheran Council in Canada (LCIC). It should also be noted that steps were taken to make some minor amendments to the LCIC Constitution and Bylaws in 2000.