From February 6-8, the officers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) and its five synods, along with an observer from the Evangelical Lutheran Women, met in Winnipeg for a facilitated consultation. Officers examined current resource trends affecting the ELCIC, explored the impact of current and future financial challenges, and discussed the necessity to consider structural change to administration and programs.
While work in preparation for the meeting had begun months ago in order to provide a broad understanding of the current realities facing the church, the consultation is considered to be starting point for future dialogue that is critical at all levels within the ELCIC.
"There is a broad consensus in the leadership across our church that we need to work together to address the financial challenges facing our church," says National Bishop Susan C. Johnson. "We agree we need some form of smaller administrative structure to allow us to focus on being a church In Mission for Others."
The agenda for the meeting, which both commenced and concluded with a service of Holy Communion, involved participants in both large group and small group settings.
In response to a draft discussion paper prepared by a Resource Generation Task Force appointed by the National Bishop in May 2008, which details the patterns of financial support in the church over the past two decades, makes predictions for the future and identifies opportunities for increased financial support, the consultation participants expressed strong encouragement for the task force to continue its work. The officers identified an urgent need for conversation on structural change to continue and expressed a willingness to "keep everything on the table" as discussions proceed.
Officers also expressed a need for increased attention in the areas of evangelism, outreach and stewardship as the ELCIC seeks to live out the call to be a church In Mission for Others.
Outcomes and recommendations from the National/Synodical consultation will be forwarded on to the ELCIC’s National Church Council which meets in Winnipeg from March 5-7, 2009.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 162,000 baptized members in 613 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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