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June 14, 2008

ELCIC Saskatchewan Synod Convention Commences

The Saskatchewan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) is meeting in convention June 12-15 in Assiniboia, SK. The following are daily convention highlights from the synod office.

Day 1 - Saskatchewan Synod Meets in Convention

With prayer and song, Bishop Cindy Halmarson and the convention ­chaplain, Rev. Chad Moir led the opening for the Twelfth Biennial Convention of the Saskatchewan Synod.

Plenary One included official welcomings and introductions, an orientation to the rules and procedures of the convention, and the approval of the agenda and the minutes of the last convention.

The first plenary concluded almost 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

Following supper, Bishop Cindy led those gathered in opening worship and communion. The convention also heard from a number of special guests representing our partners in mission and our hosts.

In her sermon, Bishop Cindy reminded delegates and visitors that God calls us to life that is created by God’s word and life that is sustained by the breath of the spirit. She challenged our community to lay down our differences for the sake of communion in Christ and to be part of God’s mission to love and renew the world.

“We are here at this convention to listen to the word of the Lord,” Bishop Cindy said. “To God’s word that calls us to life; to God’s word that calls us to community; to God’s word that calls us to mission.”

Day Two - Saskatchewan Synod Convention

Day Two at the Saskatchewan Synod Biennial Convention began with breakfast hosted by Messiah Lutheran of Assiniboia. The opening devotions were prayerfully led by convention chaplain, Rev. Chad Moir, followed by the second plenary or business session. In addition to Bishop Cindy’s written report, she outlined hopes for the future. These hopes include refining of the vision for the future, a desire to facilitate conversation around the diverse opinions in our synod and increased involvement in shared ministry and with partnerships with other denominations. The Secretary’s report and the Treasurer’s report were also presented.

During the third plenary session in the latter part of the morning, the Dialogue Task Force presented their report, exploring the issue of same-sex blessing and the ordination of gay, lesbian, transsexual and queer (GLBTQ) individuals. A motion to direct the Synod Council in conjunction with the bishop’s office to develop means to address the questions asked by the Dialogue Task Force was overwhelmingly approved by delegates.

Lunch was sponsored by CLWR, where their initiatives and programs were presented.

The afternoon was spent in workshops, a new feature to the synod convention. They were a unique opportunity for delegates and visitors to share their experiences and learn from presenters and each other. The subjects ranged from Natural Church Development to a Sacred Circle worship experience led by Saskatoon Native Ministries.

A delicious buffet supper was enjoyed by all, but was not the end of the day. In the evening all were invited to an “Enrichment Experience” examining the many facets of the relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. One of the presenters used the phrase “no one goes home the same person.” After hearing many powerful stories, many participants at the convention found that to be deeply true.

Day Three - Saskatchewan Synod Convention

Saskatchewan Synod is leading the way in streamlining its model of governance. A resolution passed at the Assinibioa Convention call for appropriate constitutional amendments to clearly define a style of management that sees Synod Council making policy decisions and mandating the bishop to execute those decisions.

In essence, the new governance model streamlines the management process and sees the Synod Council giving the bishop responsibility to delegate management authority and making the bishop the only one responsible directly to Synod Council.

Similar models are now being studied or considered by the Alberta and MNO Synods as well as the National Church.

In his report to the Convention, Rev Kevin Ogilvie cited a drop in the number of students at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon as a matter of great concern. There are only four students registered for next year and only three are from the ELCIC. Ogilvie says, “that’s not enough to keep us going” and predicts a 60-thousand-dollar deficit next year. His challenge to the Convention was to raise the profile of both ordained and diaconal ministry amongst the young people. Suggestions from the Convention floor included a Church presence at schools’ career day events. In a closely-contested vote, Rev Pat Simonson won a seat on the Lutheran Theological Seminary Board of governors.

Minutes before the LTS vote, the Convention elected members to the Synod Council. Four-year lay terms will be served by Kathy Buckingham of the Prince Albert Conference and Kathy Brig of the Saskatoon Conference and Barbara Weiss of Swift Current Conference. Elected to a two-year lay term is Neil Kemp of the Heyburn Conference. Reverend Kathleen Schmitt of the Heyburn Conference and Rev Lori James of the Yorkton Conference were elected to four-year clergy terms while Rev Amber Hoffman of the Swift Current Conference will serve a two-year clergy term.

The Saskatchewan Synod is one of five synods of the ELCIC. Further information and highlights from the Saskatchewan Synod Convention are available at: www.sasksynod.elcic.ca/

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada's largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

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