Over 620 delegates, visitors and volunteers filled Winnipeg’s University of Manitoba Plenary Hall on the evening of Thursday, June 21, 2007 for the official opening of the Eleventh Biennial National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).
The service began with the ritual filling of the font with water borne by a representative from each synod and poured into the font by the Synodical Bishop. Prayers of thanksgiving and bidding were offered and the community joined voices in song.
National Bishop Raymond Schultz began the Bishop’s Charge by recalling the words of Albert Schweitzer: "Even if it’s a little thing, do something for others – something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it." Bishop Schultz praised the work of Gordon Jenson and Judy Wry whose 1995 report on Future Directions Task Force on Mission became the Evangelical Declaration which marks its 10th anniversary this year. He added, "It is a document that defines what it means to be the church in mission and what it means to live as the church in the world".
From the declaration comes the theme for this convention "In Mission for Others: A People Called". In celebration of this 10th anniversary Bishop Schultz announced "a stewardship initiative for creation" will be introduced at convention. Lutherans have come to Canada "by the calling of God" said Bishop Schultz, and like Abraham and Sarah, "Lutherans are to be a blessing in the land to which they have been sent".
Drawing from a sidebar comment in the Evangelical Declaration, Bishop Schultz reminded delegates that opportunities for mission abound "right on our doorsteps and… that God promises to be with us unconditionally in the midst of the changes in our world".
The convention will offer the opportunity to learn more about international and ecumenical partners, as well as celebrate the work of ELCIC seminaries, Evangelical Lutheran Women, and the work that resulted from the ELCIC’s participation in the development of the new worship resource, Evangelical Lutheran Worship.
Bishop Schultz concluded: "I charge you with the words of St. Paul: ‘…live in a way that is worthy of the people God has chosen to be his own. Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other. Try our best to let God’s Spirit keep your hearts united. Do this by living at peace. All of you are part of the same body. There is only one Spirit of God, just as you were given one hope when you were chosen to be God’s people’" (Ephesians 4:1-4)