We commit ourselves as church to respond faithfully, promptly and flexibly to the many opportunities for mission. We will pursue creative and effective ways for mission and ministry in our local, national and global communities.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Evangelical Declaration 1997
The ELCIC and its predecessor bodies have a rich and long history in mission. As the ELCIC enters the new millennium, it is appropriate and timely to renew our collective commitment to mission, building upon our history and charting a new course for effective and relevant ministry in the future.
God calls all who believe and who are baptized, into mission and ministry. This applies to the ELCIC as a church and extends to each and every child of God, each individual member of our church.
Mission takes place every day in all that we do, whether it is in our personal relationships with friends and colleagues, our families, our communities, nationally, as well as globally in our relationships with the international community.
The mission of this church, as an expression of the universal Church and as an instrument of the Holy Spirit, is to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people in Canada and around the world through the proclamation of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments and through service in Christ's name.
God's mission is not always something that someone else does on our behalf. Each and every one of the members of the ELCIC has a call from God to be engaged in mission. The shape, form and expression of this mission and ministry vary from person to person. Some are able to express this through their vocation, while others serve Christ through their daily interactions with members of their families and/or communities.
The seven commitments of the Evangelical Declaration provide a focus for individual and collective involvement in mission. Each of us needs to find our own place, our individual way of responding to God's call to be in mission. While mission happens at a personal level, it is also something that we, as a church do, collectively in the context of our community (local, national and global).
There are many opportunities for mission and service through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Active participation at the congregational level is fundamental to mission. Chaplaincies and specialized ministries provide opportunities for mission in Canada beyond congregations. Mission on the Campus responds to opportunities for mission and ministry at numerous colleges and universities in Canada. Relationships with churches in other countries provide opportunities for mission in the world.
Our church works ecumenically at a number of levels including:
- issues related to public policy, providing a united Christian witness to social justice issues, which impact all Canadians;
- mission and ministry on the college and university campus; and
- mission personnel programs.
The ELCIC is an active member of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a communion of more than 120 Lutheran churches from around the world. Through the LWF, our church is engaged in theological reflection, supportive of mission initiatives and service to those in need. We are also engaged in responding to poverty in the world through the Global Hunger and Development Appeal (GHDA) and support international community development projects and programs through Canadian Lutheran World Relief.
- All members of the ELCIC are called to be in mission, and we are all therefore missionaries.
- ELCIC Mission is inclusive. Whether it is mission nationally in Canadian communities or internationally, no one expression is to be viewed as more important than the other. The basic approaches and guiding principles should be consistently applied. Every effort needs to be made to apply the lessons learned from mission experiences within the ELCIC.
- Mission is a mutually supportive process. As a church, the ELCIC engages in relationships which acknowledge that church partners have gifts and resources to share with one another, as well as needs which partners may be able to address. Mission is a two–way street involving a mutual sharing of resources which makes it possible for more effective ministry to be carried out both in Canada and in the life of partner churches.
- Mission within Canada is an essential and vital expression of the ELCIC in mission. Every congregation is a congregation in mission. Through the work of the national church, synods and congregations in partnership, we will engage in mission in three arenas: mission through existing congregations, mission through new congregations, and mission through specialized ministries.
- Mission on Canadian college and university campuses is an essential and vital expression of the ELCIC in mission. Lutheran Campus Ministry proclaims and witnesses, through word and sacrament, the saving grace of God in the academic community, among students, faculty, administration and staff. A Christian presence is provided on campuses, often in cooperation with other denominations that share similar purposes and goals. Campuses are populated with people from across the country and around the world. They are a microcosm of the multicultural and multi–faith dimension of our country. Lutheran Campus Ministry provides opportunities for learning, how to engage in mission, in a pluralistic world.
- Mission outside of Canada is an essential and vital expression of the ELCIC in mission. It helps give definition to who we are as a church, enables us to be actively engaged in relationships around the world and to offer support which will equip partner churches to be more effective in mission and ministry. Many ELCIC pastors and lay development workers have served (and continue to serve) through word and sacrament ministry and service in partner churches. These mission personnel help us to interpret and understand the dynamics of the situations where they live and work.
- The strategic use of mission resources, both human and financial, will be flexible and responsive to the expressed needs of the ELCIC and its partner churches.
- Mission and community development go hand in hand. Flowing from the Evangelical Declaration, the combination of mission and service reflect a holistic way of responding to the needs within and outside of the ELCIC. Every effort will be made to lift up models for mission and community development and seek to relate opportunities for service with word and sacrament ministries. This concept is in line with the principles and criteria that make up the mandate of GHDA.
- The ELCIC seeks to be full participants in the life of the Lutheran World Federation. The LWF, primarily through its Department for Mission and Development, provides an excellent forum through which our church can engage in mission and dialogue with members of the worldwide communion of Lutheran churches.
- Church Extension and Capital Fund (CECF)– This long–standing fund provides loans on a revolving basis for capital expenditures for new mission in Canada. The interest from the church extension portion of the fund provides annual allocations to synods for Canadian mission initiatives on the synodical level. A portion of the Church Extension Fund is reserved for National Canadian Mission Initiative projects. The CECF Advisory Board administers the fund.
- Canadian Mission Consultation – An annual consultation of synods is held for the purpose of training, support, communication and joint planning.
- Canadian Mission Pastors Conference – Initiated in November 1998 as a conference for pastors in mission settings in Canada, the second such conference is being planned for 2000. The purpose of the gathering is support, learning, affirmation and encouragement; spiritual renewal; and communication for pastors in mission in Canada.
- Chinese Ministry Conference – Chinese pastors and congregations on the ELCIC roster have met every two or three years since 1986 for learning, mutual support and dialogue with ELCIC leaders. The group will meet in the fall of 1999 to formalize a Chinese Special Interest Conference. Our church sent representatives to the first Asian Lutheran International Conference in Hong Kong in January 1999 and will consider ongoing participation in this new cooperative venture.
- Research – The ELCIC through the national office is able to make census data available to congregations who wish to study the context of the community. The national office in cooperation with the synods identifies and recommends materials, models and resources for mission in Canada.
- National Campus Ministry Coordinator – The National Campus Ministry Coordinator will continue to provide pastoral care and resources for campus chaplains and effective representation and promotion for Lutheran Campus Ministry. If the need for this service increases, the position should increase from the current level of 20% time.
- Campus Ministry Endowment Fund – This fund is a means of raising support for campus ministry. Funds received will be invested and the investment earnings will be used to enhance Lutheran Campus Ministry in Canada. A fundraising strategy was developed. An ongoing dedication of time and energy is needed to develop and promote this fund.
- ELCIC Mission Giving – The directed giving program for ELCIC Mission raises funds for overseas missionaries and projects. It will be expanded to include opportunities for gifts to projects and personnel within Canada as well as other countries. A review of this program will be done and a strategy for the next five years will be developed in order to increase its effectiveness.
- Partner Church Relationships – The ELCIC will continue to maintain primary partnerships with five Lutheran churches outside of Canada; Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELC–PNG), Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cameroon (EELC), United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina (IELU), Lutheran Synod of El Salvador (SLS), and Peruvian Evangelical Lutheran Church (ILEP). Special consideration will be given to the historical relationships with the Lutheran churches in India, Liberia and others in Latin America. Further development of relationships with Lutheran churches in Eastern Europe and Asia will be explored.
- Long–term Missionaries – The goal for this program will be to maintain support for a minimum of five long–term missionary units serving with partner churches. In addition, opportunities to increase this number through support from the Missionary Sponsorship Program and joint placements with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America will be pursued. Through the work of ELCIC long–term missionaries, considerable experience and expertise has been developed in the areas of leadership development and theological education. This may have implications on the nature of the ministries to which Canadian personnel are called.
- Volunteers in Mission – VIM has become an integral part of the ELCIC Mission program. Since the inception of the VIM Program, nearly 20 placements have been established through to the end of 1998. Our goal is to at least maintain this momentum and continue to emphasize opportunities for service both in Canada and in other countries. The VIM program will continue to network with other agencies so that international opportunities for volunteers are not restricted to our partner churches.
- Missionary Exchange Program – This program provides opportunities to receive missionaries from partner churches for periods of several months. Four Missionary Exchange placements have been arranged to date. All ELCIC Synods with the exception of BC have taken a turn at hosting an exchange missionary. Additional opportunities will be explored along with the potential for a placement in BC Synod.
- Good News Partner Program – It is anticipated that the first experience of having a missionary from an overseas partner church serve with the ELCIC for an extended period of time will take place from 1999–2002. It is being planned as a joint assignment between the ELCIC Mission office and the MNO Synod. An evaluation of this program will determine whether this will be continued in the future.
- Companion Synod Program – Both the Working Group on Mission and ELCIC National Church Council have affirmed this program which can foster more interactive and mutual relationships between our church and our partners. The goal is to facilitate the establishment and continuation of companion synod relationships for all five ELCIC synods.
- Mission Partners Program – The concept of building links between ELCIC congregations across Canada will be actively pursued. The Eastern and ABT Synods already have programs that link congregations within those synods. While this program is only at the concept stage at this point, the goal is to develop a more specific program approach and identify resources that could bring it to reality.
This Vision for Mission provides a framework through which the ELCIC is to be involved in mission. The paradigm described in this document is an evolving and living process that changes as the needs and circumstances of mission relationships change. The ELCIC National Church Council, through the Working Group on Mission will continue to reflect on this changing paradigm and seek new ways to be responsive and more effective.
Within each fiscal year, work plans, based on the above principles and programmatic thrusts will be developed. Any changes to this policy framework will be proposed by the Working Group on Mission to the National Church Council for consideration and action.
Page revised October 6, 2004