The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)’s National Church Council (NCC) is meeting in Winnipeg from September 27-29. The following is an overview of highlights from the second day of meetings:
NCC commenced on the second day of meetings at 9:00 a.m. with prayer and devotions on Romans 14:7-8.
The first item on the agenda for the day was a report from Group Services Inc (GSI). John Wolff, chair of the board for GSI, reported on the “slow and steady progress” of the solvency position of GSI. When GSI began their solvency funding strategies in 2003 there was a $16 million deficit; projections for 2007 estimate that number could be reduced to $10.5 million by the end of the year. “We’ve made some strides here,” notes Wolfe.
Council heard reports from the five ELCIC Synod Bishops; Rev. Roger Haugen, Assistant to the Bishop for the Saskatchewan Synod provided a report in Bishop Cindy Halmarson’s absence. Bishops share highlights and concerns for their respective synod and these reports are part of the Council’s environmental scan. Mission renewal is a focus in many synods with programs being developed to train both pastors and lay leaders. New models for ministry are being explored among the synods to address concerns arising from the increasing number of congregations that are holding worship services with an average number of 50 or less members.
The Report from the Office of the Bishop was presented. Since the report is sent to council members prior to the meeting, the time devoted to this item on the agenda is used to ask questions and address recommendations submitted in the report.
Rev. Ryan Andersen, Assistant to the Bishop for Stewardship in Public Life provided an update on the Task Force for Human Sexuality. An update of the Task Force is available on the ELCIC website at https://elcic.ca/Human-Sexuality/default.cfm .
The following appointments were ratified by the council:
- Ms. Judy Kochendorfer; to serve on both the Anglican Church of Canada Council of General Synod (COGS) and the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission
- Rev. Doug Reble; to serve on the Canadian Council of Churches governing board
- Rev. Dr. Allen Jorgenson; to serve on the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission
- The re-appointment of Bishop Michael Pryse and Rev. Ilze Kuplens-Ewart; to serve on the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission.
Council recessed for lunch at 12:00 noon and reconvened at 1:00 p.m.
Council received and passed a motion to recommend that the ELCIC proceed with the "Meeting our Muslim Neighbours" project to encourage and empower broad leadership, and provide resources that can be used by congregations to engage their Muslim neighbours in conversation.
Council heard reports from the Director of Finance and Administration, the Treasurer and the Audit committee.
Correspondence sent to the National Bishop, Officers of the Church and/or council was reviewed. Letters sent to the attention of council and the officers are distributed to NCC, along with correspondence sent to the National Bishop that is of value to the council.
A number of items regarding the 2007 National Convention were presented to the council. Minutes from the convention were approved with revisions. A report from the convention, including a summary evaluation of the 2007 National Convention was shared with council members. Council also reviewed a number of action items that came forward to council as a result of motions passed at convention.
Kathy Magnus, North American Regional Officer of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), gave her report to council. LWF is currently going through a renewal process; Bishop Raymond Schultz is chair of the renewal committee. While there are only 80 staff in the Geneva head office, with over 5,000 LWF staff deployed in the field the positive impact of LWF is far-reaching.
Earlier this year, Magnus announced that she will be taking an early retirement at the end of 2007. Magnus thanked council members for their "accompaniment in this wonderful experience called The Lutheran World Federation. The ELCIC has been an absolutely critical partner." Magnus noted that a number of key ELCIC individuals are involved in significant positions within the LWF. "Thank you for the leadership you share through these people," Magnus told council.
Magnus also noted the significant financial commitment the ELCIC has made to The LWF. "You aren’t a very big church, [yet] you’ve made a significant, constant contribution to the global Lutheran family. Thank you for always being there and for always making this a priority."
National Bishop Susan C. Johnson noted how Magnus has become, "an integral part of the ELCIC’s life as a church." Of Magnus’ contribution to the ELCIC, Bishop Johnson said that Magnus helped the ELCIC, "claim the work of The LWF as our work and [has] shown us that 66 million Lutherans do make a difference." Council presented Magnus with a small gift of appreciation.
Council adjourned at 4:45 p.m. with devotions and prayer. Saturday’s agenda will include reports from Evangelical Lutheran Women Inc. (ELW) and partner reports from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Anglican Church of Canada. Council will adjourn prior to the Ordination and Installation Service for Bishop Johnson which will take place at 3:00 p.m. at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Winnipeg.
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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