ELCIC’s National Church Council Holds Fall Meeting; Focus on Strategic Priorities and Work of the National Office

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s (ELCIC) National Church Council (NCC) met in Winnipeg, September 9-11, 2010. Council members conduct the business of the church between National Conventions.

With committee meetings taking place on Thursday morning and afternoon, the formal portion of the meeting began on Thursday evening with an Opening Worship Service including Holy Communion. ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson presided at the service, Rev. Trish Schmermund (Synod of Alberta and the Territories ordained member) preached and was also the meeting chaplain.

Council Welcomes Representatives and Guests
In addition to NCC members, Synod Bishops, and National Office senior staff in attendance at the meeting, the council welcomed Cynthia Haines Turner who serves as the new representative from the Anglican Church of Canada’s Council of General Synod (COGS). Else Thompson, executive director of human resources, from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) was present for the meeting on behalf of the ELCA. Also at the meeting were the officers from the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod who attended as part of the preparation for the joint COGS-NCC meeting that will take place in the spring of 2011. Officers from the ELCIC will attend the COGS in November 2010.

Dwelling in the Word
Four individuals led Dwelling in the Word (DITW) sessions where each shared a memory or reflection on a scripture passage that is important to them. Usually detailing a personal experience, DITW is a regular component of NCC meetings and are one way NCC lives out its vision to foster a climate of spirited discipleship and share personal faith. At this meeting NCC members heard DITW reflections from: Ken Hartviksen, treasurer; Saskatchewan Synod Bishop Cindy Halmarson; Carl Sorenson, lay representative from the Synod of Alberta and the Territories; and Rev. Paul Gehrs, Assistant to the Bishop, Justice and Leadership. Videos of the DITW sessions can be viewed online: www.elcic.ca/national-church-council/default.cfm.

Strategic Priorities and Work of the National Office Top NCC Agenda
A significant portion of the agenda for the fall NCC meeting was devoted to reviewing the work of the National Office and how it aligns with the strategic priorities of the church. Council spent time in small and large group discussions discerning priorities and key areas of focus among the work. The council also spent time discussing the many partnerships of the ELCIC and passed a motion directing the National Bishop to review current partnerships based on a set of criteria identified by NCC and report back at the March 2011 meeting. The council will do further work on priority setting before the Spring 2011 NCC meeting by using an online survey tool and holding an e-meeting.

Evaluation Affirms National Bishop’s Leadership
ELCIC Vice President Sheila Hamilton reported on a review conducted by NCC Officers on the work of the ELCIC’s National Bishop. The review was completed through questionnaires distributed to NCC members, Synod Bishops, and National Office staff, and one-on-one interviews which included seven of the ELCIC’s ecumenical partners. The evaluation focused on: what the Bishop is doing well that should be continued, what needs to be changed, what needs to be stopped or delegated, and what more could be done. Hamilton reported that the manner in which the National Bishop, "executes her role as the public face of the church is well respected and applauded, and that reflects well on [the ELCIC] as a whole." NCC unanimously approved a motion to affirm the leadership and ministry of Bishop Johnson and commended her for her service to the church.

Next Meeting
The next meeting of NCC will be held concurrently with the Anglican Church of Canada’s Council of General Synod. That meeting will take place March 31 to April 3, 2011.

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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