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January 24, 2008

ELW Continues Search for Viable Path to Long-term Sustainability

Finding ways for the ELCIC's Evangelical Lutheran Women (ELW) to, continue to support an office which in turn supports the tremendous ELW ministries taking place in congregations across Canada is paramount to the future of the ELW says Ruth Vince, executive director, ELW.

The National ELW has been in a redevelopment process for the last couple of years; recommendations from the process are expected to be presented to the National ELW board when it meets in March 2008.

Using surveys, focus groups and conversations with key stakeholders, the ELW has been seeking to develop an understanding of the current landscape within the organization. A strategic planning professional was brought in on-contract to assist with the assessment of the information collected and more recently an advisory group consisting of ELW National Board members, ELW staff and ELCIC National Church Council members, including the ELCIC National Bishop and national staff members met to begin a discussion on the findings.

The redevelopment process has been crucial to identifying viable ways to continue the operation of ELW. Income levels have not been matching expenses over the last couple of years and in order to continue the operation of ELW through 2008, significant measures were implemented to limit further financial spending. Included in the cuts were the reduction of office hours and staff salaries, along with cuts to programs and travel.

Vince notes that further cuts are likely a reality for the 2009 budget.

Those on the advisory committee will continue to work towards their goal of bringing a recommendation forward at the March 15-18 National ELW board meeting. At that time the National Board will explore whether convention delegates will need to vote on any redevelopment issues. Vince says all Congregational-ELW groups will be informed in April if there are major decisions that will be presented at the July National convention so that discussion can take place prior to it being voted on.

In a recent letter to Vince and Betty St. Onge, ELW President, ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson praised the work of St. Onge and Vince, as well as the Board and Staff of ELW. Bishop Johnson noted with appreciation the ongoing partnership in ministry provided by the ELW and their role in nurturing faith,developing leadership and supporting the work of the church through ELW Praise Offerings.

The ELW was incorporated in 1986 when the ELCIC was formed and is a national non-profit organization of the ELCIC. The ministry of the ELW is self-supported through direct offerings called Grace Gifts. Individuals who attend ELW events are encouraged to support ELW in the form of free-will offerings. Donations to Grace Gifts and other ELW directed funds are also received through ELW's national office.

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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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