A packed room. A full plate. An enthusiastic audience. A satisfying way to begin the third day of convention at the Evangelical Lutheran Women (ELW) / Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) women’s desk breakfast. Rev. Paul Gehrs, Assistant to the National Bishop for Synodical Relations and Ruth Vince, Executive Director of ELW hosted the breakfast, served to crowd of over 100 ELCIC members (women, men, lay and ordained) on Saturday June 23, 2007.
The breakfast opened with prayer and biblical reflection on Luke 4:14-21 in which Jesus goes to the Synagogue and reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” In true ELW fashion table groups were invited to reflect together on this reading, responding to the question, “What would it mean to my life if this proclamation came true?”
Following the brief Bible study, Ruth Vince spoke about ELW and its programs. The new planned giving resource, What’s Enough?, the newest Bible study, the Great ‘I AM’, and No Place Like Home, a new resource about homelessness were highlighted as some of the many offerings ELW currently has available for use within the ELCIC.
The enthusiasm for the new resources was tempered when Vince spoke about the harsh reality that the future of ELW is in jeopardy. With an aging constituency and a reluctance to change how ELW does its work and is seen within the larger context of the ELCIC, the future is unclear. The ELW board and staff, in partnership with the ELCIC, through the office of the Bishop’s Assistant for Synodical Relations, are currently engaged in a visioning process which will culminate at the 2008 National ELW convention. “Tough decisions are going to have to be made,” admitted Vince, “We need to find new ways of being ELW if we are going to exist in the future.”
In his address to the gathering, Gehrs clarified the role of the National Women’s Desk as a “portal to the bishop’s office.” “A call that comes through the women’s desk, about programs, resources, concerns or ideas is directed by the women’s desk, to the attention of the national bishop and a group of people, including women, are tasked with responding,” explained Gehrs. He went on to explain that there is a focus, within the Women’s Desk portfolio, on ordained ministry.
The breakfast ended with a standing ovation for Ruth Vince, for her tireless work as a leader within the ELCIC and a particular appreciation for her passion for ELW and its ministry.
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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