Highlights from the Third Day of the ELCIC’s National Church Council September Meeting

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)’s National Church Council (NCC) met in Winnipeg from September 27-29. The following is an overview of highlights from the third day of meetings:

NCC commenced on the third day of meetings at 9:00 a.m. with prayer and devotions.

The first report of the day was from Ruth Vince, Executive Director of the Evangelical Lutheran Women Inc. (ELW). Vince reported on recent focus groups that both her and Rev. Paul Gehrs, Assistant to the Bishop for Synodical Relations, have been conducting across the country. The focus groups encouraged participants to think about a way forward and consider what an organization might look like that is faith-based and the barriers to achieving that organization. Preliminary findings suggest that there is a desire for gatherings, biblical reflection and worship incorporating people of mixed groups and generations. An assessment of the feedback has taken place and Vince notes that the findings require, "further reflection to determine a way forward." Vince advised council that an advisory group will be established to use the assessment to look at models for the future that the ELW and ELCIC might consider feasible.

In addition, Vince noted that several significant budget cuts were made by the ELW board at its recent September meeting. The largest area of reduction is to staff salaries. Vince will be assessing staffing needs for 2008 and determining the appropriate cuts to staff time and salaries. Travel for Vince and the National ELW President, Betty St. Onge, have been immediately eliminated and no travel will be budgeted for these individuals in 2008. In addition, Vince noted that the ELW’s publication, Esprit, is also in a significant deficit position and requires ongoing subscription support.

Carlos Pena, Vice-President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), brought greetings to council on behalf of Bishop Mark Hanson. Pena provided council with a brief synopsis of the ELCA’s 2007 Churchwide Assembly which took place in August in Chicago and resulted in the re-election of Bishop Hanson. In addition, the Assembly celebrated the 20th anniversary of the ELCA, introduced a new initiative titled "Book of Faith – Lutherans Read the Bible"- a five year initiative to promote the study of the Bible, adopted a Social Statement on Education, and called on the church to develop a strategy on HIV/AIDS.

The Rt. Rev. Colin Johnson, Bishop of Toronto of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC), provided his reflections on the NCC meetings. This was his first NCC meeting as the Anglican Representative on council. Referring to a reading for St. Michael and All Angels (September 29), Johnson based his remarks on Revelation 12 reflecting on some the similar ‘dragons’ for the ELCIC and ACC. Johnson noted the importance of, "invest[ing] fear in something that is productive rather than protecting something that is inevitable." Council asked about whether there has been any feedback regarding recent changes at the ACC’s General Synod regarding Lutheran clergy now being eligible for election to Anglican Bishop positions. Johnson indicated that there have been some questions on this and noted that in the spirit of the Full Communion relationship between the two churches, an invitation was recently sent to Bishop Michael Pryse, ELCIC Bishop of the Eastern Synod, to request nominations for an election taking place in the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (filling the vacancy which occured due to the Primate’s election).

The next meeting of NCC will take place March 5-8, 2008 in Winnipeg. Council will add on an additional day to the March 2008 meeting to accommodate time for work on visioning from the council level.

NCC meetings are also scheduled as follows:
September 11-13, 2008
March 5-7, 2009

Council adjourned at 12:00 noon.

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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