The following is the text from a letter to the church from ELCIC National and Synod Bishops.
Dear Friends and Colleagues in Christ:
Last week, we were incredibly saddened to learn of the decision by the ELW national board to dissolve Evangelical Lutheran Women, Inc. and to immediately conclude their operations. This decision has come as a shock to many and left a host of unanswered questions regarding the future for women’s ministries in the ELCIC.
Since the time it was established, Evangelical Lutheran Women has played a significant role in the life of this church. They have been a valued partner, whose resources and programs have encouraged Lutheran women to grow in faith and mission. Moreover, ELW has also made a substantial contribution, each year, to the operation of the national church.
Perhaps ELW’s greatest gift, however, has been in the opportunity it provided for Lutheran women, from across Canada, to be joined together in common cause. Whether it was gathering for national, synodical, or conference ELW events, participating in ELW Bible Studies, or learning about social justice issues, ELW provided a network of relationships which knit Lutheran women together in a sense of common mission.
There is no denying that the national and synodical units of ELW have played an important role in nurturing the ministry of our church. However, ELW’s greatest strength has always been where it remains, in the women of local congregations who gather together for study, prayer, and ministries of service and hospitality.
While we join with the many women and men from across Canada who grieve the loss of ELW, it is our hope and prayer that the ministries of women in local congregations will continue as a bold and faithful witness to the faith we share!
The bishops of our church want to do all we can to support the ongoing ministry of women within our church, and we will work with the board and staff of ELW as they move through the dissolution process, and work with the continuing congregational expressions of Evangelical Lutheran Women to support them in their mission and ministry. This will be made possible, at least in part, by a fund that ELW is establishing, which will continue to encourage and facilitate the important ministry of women within our church.
Friends, these are not easy times to be “church”; these are not easy times to be about the mission and ministry of the church. Still, while we grieve the dissolution of ELW, we do not grieve as those who have no hope! In every community of the church, the work and witness of faithful women continues and evolves in response to the needs of God’s people.
Please be assured that the board, staff, and members of ELW and indeed our whole church are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time of transition. Where we grieve what has been, let us nonetheless pledge ourselves to a faithful contemplation of what might be and a hope filled journey into God’s future, together!
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Susan C. Johnson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
The Rev. Gerhard Preibisch
The Rev. Ron Mayan
The Rev. Cindy Halmarson
The Rev. Elaine Sauer
The Rev. Michael Pryse
A pdf version of the letter is available online at: https://www.elcic.ca/Documents/PastoralletterJune2010.pdf
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 152,500 baptized members in 607 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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