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March 18, 2016

Highlights from the March 2016 National Church Council Meeting

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s (ELCIC) National Church Council (NCC) met March 3-5, 2016 in Winnipeg, M.B. During the meetings, council members participated in worship, Bible study, small group discussions and business. It is the responsibility of NCC to conduct the business of the church between National Conventions.

The following is an overview of highlights from the meeting.

ELCIC Strategic Plan
NCC members received an update on the work of the ELCIC 2013-2017 Strategic Plan. The strategic plan outlines the goals and directions of the National Church and focuses on four areas: Spirited Discipleship, Healthy Church, Compassionate Justice and Effective Partnerships.

At the March meeting, council members spent time in small groups reviewing in-depth the area of Spirited Discipleship. Council considered what parts of this area of the strategic plan “were exciting and that they wanted to share,” and “what was missing.” Over the next three NCC meetings, members will conduct a similar review with the remaining areas of the ELCIC Strategic Work Plan.

Group Services Inc.
Lisa Thiessen, Executive Director of ELCIC Group Services Inc. (GSI) was present for a portion of the NCC meeting to discuss a motion before council to approve a new participating employer the pension plan. Meeting as the sole member of GSI, NCC members approved a motion that will see pastors serving from Moravian Church Northern Province (MCNP) congregations being eligible as members in the Pension Plan for Clergy and Lay Workers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

NCC members welcomed the motion as an exciting sign of ecumenical commitment and it was noted during discussion that welcoming new members to the plan helps share the overall administrative cost. It was also clarified that ELCIC retains the sole charge of governance for the pension plan.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
In June 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) issued its final report which included within it 94 Calls to Action.

At its March meeting, NCC members discussed Call to Action #48, “issuing a statement no later than March 31, 2016 from all religious denominations and faith groups, as to how they will implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

NCC members adopted the “ELCIC Statement on Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” This document will be available on the ELCIC website prior to the March 31, 2016 deadline. It was also noted that National Bishop Susan Johnson will be present with other church leaders at a gathering in Ottawa on March 30, 2016 where a joint statement will be shared.

Global Mission Task Force
In March 2014, NCC affirmed a motion to establish a task force on ELCIC Global Mission. In consultation with the National Church, synods, congregations, and key partners, the task force has undertaken a comprehensive review of current programs, partnerships (national and synodical) and commitments.

At the March 2016 meeting, NCC received an update on the task force’s work including an interim report outlining principles for global mission in the ELCIC, a theological exploration of global mission, and recommendations.

NCC members heard that the draft report would provide a basis for further consultations across the church to a wide range of groups. NCC will receive a final report from the task force at its next meeting.

The ELCIC Reformation Challenge
In 2017, Lutherans around the world will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. In honour of the anniversary, ELCIC members, congregations, specialized ministries and synods are invited to join the ELCIC Reformation Challenge, which has set the following goals:

  • Sponsor 500 new refugees;
  • Support 500 scholarships for students of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL);
  • Plant 500,000 trees in Canada, Palestine, Ethiopia, and around the world; and
  • Donate $500,000 to The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Endowment Fund

To date, ELCIC members have made the following commitments to the ELCIC Reformation Challenge: 

  • 89 Refugee sponsorships
  • 17 Scholarships for ELCJHL schools
  • 11,358 Trees planted
  • $109,112 Donated to the LWF Endowment Fund

ELCIC members and congregations are encouraged to consider ways to get involved in the Reformation Challenge and to register their commitment to the challenge. Resources and further information are available online at: elcic.ca/ReformationChallenge.

Next Meeting
The next meeting of NCC will take place September 8-10, 2016 in Winnipeg, M.B.

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada's largest Lutheran denomination with 114,592 baptized members in 525 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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