Welcome to Winnipeg and the convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
The Evangelical Lutheran Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada Inc. (ELW) continues to be an active community within the congregations of the ELCIC. The focus of this written report is to provide you with the structure of ELW while the verbal report during the convention will provide information about the many and varied activities of the organization.
In our travels throughout this church it is often a surprise to the non-ELW person, and sometimes even the ELW participant, to hear about the organizational structure of ELW and the vast array of ministry ELW provides. Structurally, ELW is similar to the ELCIC.
There are Congregational ELWs in about 400 of the 624 ELCIC congregations. Congregational ELWs (Co-ELWs) are organized by a group of women who become official by being approved at the National ELW Board level. A Congregational ELW will often engage in biblical reflection and outreach within the congregation and the community. As well, the ELW will usually have its own bank account, however, receipting is done through the congregation’s books. Therefore, it is important that an ELW report of income and expenses and yearly activities be included as part of the congregation’s annual report. Congregational ELWs will collect an offering which is forwarded to the Synodical ELW treasurer.
A Conference ELW Board exists primarily to plan two conference events each year. The Spring Convention brings women together for worship, learning and planning. The Fall Leadership event is designed to inform participants of the new program materials that have been developed for the next year. Those who participate at the Fall Leadership event are equipped to go back to their congregations and share information about programs and to lead programs. These persons are also informed on new national and international initiatives of the whole organization.
Each of the five ELCIC synods also has a Synodical ELW (S-ELW) Board. This board consists of an elected executive and the presidents from each of the conferences in the Synodical ELW. The president of the S-ELW Board also sits on the National ELW Board. The S-ELW Board meets twice yearly. They plan a biennial convention, communicate any new vision and direction from the National ELW Board and give support to conference executives who are in turn equipped to give support to congregations.
A National ELW Board also meets twice a year. As well as the synodical presidents, this National ELW Board is made up of an executive and five directors at large. These persons are elected at the National Quadrennial Convention. The most recent convention took place last summer in Winnipeg. Delegates and visitors from across Canada attend these conventions, just as delegates and visitors are attending the ELCIC Convention. At the National ELW Board meetings decisions are made on future programming, special programs to be offered, and partnerships with other Lutheran and ecumenical groups. It is this body that plans the National Quadrennial Convention.
To support this structure, an offering called "Grace Gifts" is collected at gatherings at all levels of ELW including at special events. In order to have ongoing support ELW employs three staff. The Executive Director (Ruth Vince) oversees the entire operations of ELW and is a resource to the National ELW board as well as to synodical boards, conference executives and local ELWs. She is ELW’s public relations person representing ELW at many events including reporting to the National Church Council of the ELCIC. By visiting local groups and networking extensively, she is keenly aware of new areas of ministry and the needs of the organization (and the church) at all levels.
A Program Editor (Catherine Pate) is also employed. Her ministry is to edit the Esprit magazine, Bible study, program resources and other special resources. Along with the executive director, she is aware of program needs and seeks to meet those needs through creative resource development. The Esprit magazine is a widely read magazine focused on inspiring, educating and challenging Christian women. It has won numerous awards over its history at the annual Canadian Church Press Convention. The Bible study is the only ELCIC Lutheran produced study. A new 9 session study is written every year. The 2006 Bible study has been edited and developed to be English as a Second Language (ESL) “friendly” for use in ESL ministry both in Canada and abroad.
The Administrative Assistant (Gerlinde Berglund) is responsible for the magazine database and all the day-to-day duties of keeping an office functioning well, especially since the other staff are often travelling.
At the 2004 National Quadrennial Convention a resolution was passed that made a significant change for the organization. As written earlier, congregations desiring to be an ELW are approved by the National ELW Board. All Co-ELWs had to part of an ELCIC congregation. At the Convention, a resolution was passed that now allows for special groups to be formed. Women who are gathering and who believe in the mission and vision of ELW can now apply to be considered a group. This has allowed groups from disbanded ELCIC congregations to continue meeting as official ELW groups—thereby allowing women from that group to be delegates and have input at conventions. This also paves the way for unique groups such as a downtown women’s group or gatherings in universities. We look forward to new models of being Christ-centred women in our society.
As an organization, the following is the focus for the quadrennium of 2005–2008:
ELW will strengthen partnerships by:
- Increasing awareness of ELW’s ministry
- within the Church;
- Developing creative resources
- responsive to various communities;
- Being informed advocates for ELW in the church
- and in the world.
We invite you to partner with us as we attempt to bring creative new programming and ministry into the life of the ELCIC.
As well as all the various contributions women are making in the ELCIC and in the community, ELW has contributed $244,000 over the past two years. $199,000 was given in cash while the remaining amount was allocated to special projects. This money comes by way of the Praise Offering.
In 2006, the ELCIC and ELW celebrate 20 years of life. We give thanks and praise to God for the people who have been such witnesses for others during these years. In a world of constant change and challenges, we continue our ministry full of joy and hope that together we can make a difference in the lives of many.
ELW is a Christ-centred community of women who are committed to nurturing faith and spiritual strength to enable us to be people of God in mission.
As women in mission through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We respond to the reality of the world around us by entering into the lives of others, sharing our faith and by expressing our faith in action.
We support and affirm each other by accepting our differences, appreciating our varying abilities and by mentoring and enabling each other.
We develop leadership skills and avenues for sharing talents and creativity.
We welcome all women. We work toward justice and peace.
We nurture our faith and spiritual growth through prayer, Bible study and caring for each other.
Through our actions we live out the gospel recognizing that mission opportunities are at our doorstep.
Betty St. Onge
National ELW President