A NEWS RELEASE
From National Office of the ELCIC
Winnipeg, 24 January 2007--Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)’s National Church Council (NCC) met in Winnipeg from January 19-20 to discuss matters relating to the business of the church. Among the outcomes from the meeting was the decision to communicate highlights from council meetings to the church after each meeting.
Items on the agenda for the January NCC meeting included the recently announced retirement of National Bishop Raymond Schultz, development of a social statement on human sexuality, an action item from the September 2006 NCC meeting regarding, “a motion, which will be presented at the 2007 National Convention of the ELCIC, to reconsider a local option for pastors and congregations to bless same-gender couples” and discussion on beginning a “Greening of the Church” initiative within the ELCIC.
The following are brief highlights from the January 2007 NCC meeting.
Retirement of National Bishop Raymond Schultz:
In a letter sent to members of NCC on January 1, Bishop Schultz announced his intent to retire as of September 1, following the election of a successor at the 2007 National Convention. At the January NCC meeting, Council discussed a transition plan which included the decision to request that Bishop Schultz remain on staff in an advisory capacity for a period of one month after the newly elected National Bishop takes office. Council members also passed a motion which will see an adjustment to the election process for the National Bishop at the 2007 National Convention. Previously, subsequent ballots for Bishop proceeded immediately after the announcement of results from the Elections Committee. With the new motion, each ballot for Bishop will take place, “no sooner than 30 minutes after the report from the Elections Committee.” NCC felt that this would allow for delegates to, “think, pray and discern” about the pending vote rather than feeling rushed to make a decision for the next ballot.
Development of a Social Statement on Human Sexuality:
At the September 2006 NCC meeting, Council agreed to, “develop a social statement on human sexuality for consideration by the 2009 National Convention for deliberation by the ELCIC. In addition, this task force will produce a progress report that will be provided at the 2007 National Convention.” At the January 2007 meeting, Council received copies of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s Studies on Sexuality titled, Free in Christ to Serve the Neighbor: Lutherans Talk about Human Sexuality. A task force is currently being developed to study the document and a preliminary report will be provided at the 2007 National Convention.
In Mission for Others in the Context of a Diverse Church:
As a follow up to discussions held at the September 2006 meeting of NCC where council advised it would present a motion at the 2007 National Convention of the ELCIC, “to reconsider the local option for pastors and congregations to bless same-gender couples” further discussion on the motion took place at the January 2007 meeting of Council. From the discussion, a new motion, which will be brought to the 2007 National Convention, was passed. The motion is as follows:
"This convention affirms that the diversity within Canada’s culture requires responses to a variety of persons in order for this church to be In Mission for Others.
"We also affirm that the synods have the mandate to devise mission strategies appropriate to their regional settings.
"Accordingly, we encourage synods to develop ways to best minister to people who live in committed same sex relationships, including the possibility of blessing such unions."
Focusing on the call to be a church In Mission for Others was central to discussions surrounding the development of a motion on same-gender relationships.
Greening of the Church:
A proposal on the “Greening of the Church” was presented to Council. While still in development, the program calls for a two to four year program focusing on the ELCIC’s call to be In Mission for Others by, "respecting the integrity of God’s creation” and reducing the negative environmental impact of the ELCIC. Further discussion on the initiative will take place at the March 2007 meeting of NCC.
NCC concluded on Saturday, January 20 at noon. The next meeting of the Council will take place March 15-17, 2007 in Winnipeg.
NCC meetings generally begin on Thursday evenings with a Eucharist service; business days begin and end with a service of prayer and worship. NCC is comprised of 20 elected members, including the National Bishops and three officers, and a representative from the Anglican Church of Canada. Synod Bishops also attend NCC in an advisory capacity, as does a representative from Lutheran World Federation; advisors at NCC meetings have voice but no vote.
NCC meets at least two times throughout the year; traditionally these meetings occur in March and September. Exceptions occur during the year of National Convention when Council holds an additional meeting prior to the commencement of the convention. Additional meetings may be called by the bishop of the church or by request in writing by a majority of members of the council. A majority of members of the council must be present at any meeting of NCC to constitute a quorum.
Information on the ELCIC's National Church Council is available online at http://www.elcic.ca/direct/council.html
For more information, please contact:
Ms.Trina Gallop, Manager of Communications
302 - 393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6