The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s (ELCIC) National Church Council (NCC) met in Winnipeg from March 11-13, 2010. Council members conduct the business of the church between National Conventions and provide direction to the ELCIC’s National Bishop Susan C. Johnson on how the ELCIC can best fulfill its governance responsibilities and live out its call to be a church In Mission for Others.
With committee meetings taking place on Thursday afternoon and evening, the formal portion of the meeting began on Friday morning with an Opening Worship Service including Holy Communion. National Bishop Johnson presided at the service, Rev. Peter Mikelic (Eastern Synod ordained member) preached and also was the meeting chaplain.
Dwelling in the Word
Four members of NCC led Dwelling in the Word (DITW) sessions where they each shared a memory or reflection on a scripture passage that is important to them. Usually detailing a personal experience, Dwelling in the Word has become a regular part of NCC meetings and are one way NCC’s lives out its vision to foster a climate of spirited discipleship and share personal faith. NCC members leading Dwelling in the Word at the March 2010 NCC meeting included: Rev. Peter Mikelic, Bishop Michael Pryse (Eastern Synod), Jeanie Stann (British Columbia Synod lay member), and Rev. Claudine Carlson (Eastern Synod ordained member). Videos of the Dwelling in the Word sessions can be viewed online: www.elcic.ca/National-Church-Council/default.cfm
Call to Spiritual Renewal
In her report to NCC, National Bishop Susan C. Johnson stressed the need for a stronger call to spirited discipleship in order to address the church’s slow drift towards Christianity Lite. "I feel very strongly that God is calling us to a deeper discipleship and a closer, daily walk with our Lord," said Bishop Johnson. In the midst of several critical areas of work for the church, Bishop Johnson stressed the need to continue articulating our faith in our everyday actions – a focus found in one of the ELCIC five pillars, Spirited Discipleship.
Deeper Conversation on Joint Office Possibilities
An overview of a joint office possibility with the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) was presented to NCC members. NCC approved a motion to, "authorize the National Bishop, in consultation with the ACC Primate and the co-chairs of the Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission, to explore the possibility of establishing a joint national office in Ottawa and to take such steps necessary to explore the costs and other implications of such a move."
Senior staff members of both churches had met last spring to discuss opportunities for increased partnership. Staff members from ACC will be coming to the ELCIC head office in Winnipeg later this spring to continue discussions around joint opportunities.
Work of the Structural Renewal Task Force Continues
NCC members received an update on the work of the Structural Renewal Task Force which is chaired by Sheila Hamilton, ELCIC Vice-President. The task force has made presentations to all ELCIC synod councils, the NCC and the Conference of Bishops to engage in discussions on possible structural renewal models and to solicit feedback. Hamilton noted that the work of the task force continues. Synod councils will be updated at their spring 2010 meetings and synod conventions will have agenda time devoted to small group discussions and general feedback opportunities. NCC members amended the mandate of the Structural Renewal Task Force to bring constitutional and other changes to Synod Conventions in 2012 and the ELCIC National Convention in 2013.
Conversation on Gratitude and Generosity
At the Fall 2009 NCC meeting, members approved a Financial Resource Generation Strategy that identifies ways the church could work towards more conscious and faithful financial stewardship. One of the goals of the strategy is to, "engage spirited disciples in all expressions of the church in dialogue pertaining to our call to be stewards of our resources."
NCC members met on Friday afternoon for the guided one-on-one "Conversation on Gratitude and Generosity." The conversation opened with individual prayer and reflection. Discussion and further reflection was formed around six questions which had NCC members recalling their first memory about money and how that has shaped their current feelings about giving, reflecting on who has been a stewardship mentor in their life, and verbalizing their own personal theology of giving. The stewardship conversations concluded with a recognition of ways they could see themselves growing in gratitude and giving, and making a commitment to personal growth in that area.
Convention Governance Renewal
As detailed in a September 17, 2009 Letter to the Church, NCC initiated a process to review Convention governance practices following the 2009 ELCIC National Convention. "NCC is committed to making decisions regarding appropriate procedures for National Convention 2011 in order that there is plenty of time to communicate appropriately with congregations and delegates well in advance of the next convention," noted Bishop Johnson in her September 17 letter.
A report was shared with NCC. In the coming weeks information on the review process, updates to procedures and next steps will be shared widely with the church.
2011 National Convention
The Thirteenth Biennial Convention of the ELCIC will be held at TCU Place in downtown Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from July 14-17, 2011. NCC members approved the 2011 convention theme – Covenant People: In Mission for Others. The theme honours the ELCIC’s call to diverse faces and to being a church that better represents the demographics in the communities where we are located. Using the text from Isaiah 56:6-8 referencing the theme of covenant, the ELCIC will use the convention, including worship and bible study, to explore how our baptismal covenant is at the root of the call to be In Mission for Others. The theme will also allow the ELCIC to explore in a plenary educational forum how one synonym for covenant is the word treaty, and how the church and all people of Canada are treaty people. Delegates will be invited to reflect on how the ELCIC is called to engage in the wider community in witness and service.
Closing Worship and Next Meeting
NCC closed their spring meeting in prayer and song. The next meeting of NCC will take place September 9-11, 2010 in Winnipeg. In Spring 2011, NCC plans to meet concurrently with the Anglican Church of Canada’s Council of General Synod.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 162,100 baptized members in 611 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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