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June 18, 2007

Lutherans Prayerfully Prepare for Eleventh Biennial National Convention

Almost 400 delegates from across Canada will gather in Winnipeg this week to participate in the Eleventh Biennial National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). During the two and a half days of convention business meetings, delegates will elect a new National Bishop, celebrate the Evangelical Declaration – one of the theological foundations of the ELCIC, discuss a motion on synodical oversight regarding the blessing of same-sex relationships, and embark on a Stewardship of Creation Initiative - an environmental action plan for the ELCIC.

The National Convention takes place every two years and includes clergy, lay, staff members, international partners and guests. In addition to delegates and special guests, over one hundred visitors are registered to attend and over two hundred volunteers will assist with convention logistics.

Delegates to the ELCIC National Convention will first gather at the Winnipeg Convention Centre on Thursday, June 21, alongside delegates from the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) General Synod. Almost 1000 individuals from both denominations will participate in the joint day festivities, which include a celebration of six years of full communion between the two churches. Structured as a Eucharistic service, the day will include a featured speaker, joyful music and time for reflection and conversation.

The business session of the National Convention will commence on Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. at the University of Manitoba Fort Garry campus. The first item of business for the convention agenda is the election of the National Bishop. In January, National Bishop Raymond L. Schultz, who will chair the convention, announced his retirement effective September 1, 2007. While the first and second ballots for bishop are scheduled to take place on Thursday night, it is possible that a bishop will not be elected until Friday night as the process within the ELCIC for the election of a bishop provides for up to six ballots. Further information on the ELCIC National Bishop election process is available at the following link: http://elcic.ca/In-Convention/2007-Winnipeg/documents/HowaBishopisChosen.pdf

Friday, June 22 and Saturday, June 23 will be full days of business proceedings for the convention delegates. On Friday, convention delegates will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Evangelical Declaration, a document that defines, what it means for us to be the church and what it means to live as the church in the world notes Bishop Schultz. At the convention, delegates will vote on a motion to adopt an updated version of the declaration titled, In Mission for Others: An Evangelical Theology of Mission.

Friday's business session will also include the introduction of the ELCIC's Stewardship of Creation Initiative, a church-wide commitment to caring for the environment.

Leading up to convention, delegates have been prayerfully considering a motion on same-sex blessings, which is part of Saturday’s agenda. The ELCIC’s National Church Council (NCC) has recommended a motion recognizing the diversity of Canadian culture and the varied ministry required to be a church In Mission for Others. Convention delegates will determine whether to recommend that ELCIC synods be encouraged, “to develop ways to best minister to people who live in committed same-sex relationships, including the possibility of blessing such unions.”

Throughout the business agenda of convention, delegates will also deal with proposed constitutional amendments, approval of the ELCIC financial statements, and the election of several NCC members. Convention delegates will also received greetings from ELCIC guests and partner representatives, including The Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General Secretary of The Canadian Council of Churches (CCC), The Rev. Norbert Denecke from the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (VELKD), and Mr. Carlos Pena, Vice President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

National Conventions of the ELCIC are the highest legislative body of the church and are held every two years (biennially). The voting membership of convention consists of two hundred ordained ministers elected by the conferences as allocated by NCC on the basis of baptized members; and a lay delegate elected by each parish not already represented by an ordained minister. In addition, a lay delegate may be elected by parishes with greater than eight hundred baptized members.

Further information on the Eleventh Biennial Convention of the ELCIC is available online: http://elcic.ca/In-Convention/2007-Winnipeg

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NOTE FOR MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES: All media must to be accredited in order to attend this event. Forms for accreditation can be found at the following link: http://elcic.ca/In-Convention/2007-Winnipeg/Media-Information.cfm

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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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