Over 350 delegates from across Canada will gather in Saskatoon, SK this week to participate in the Thirteenth Biennial National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. The convention takes place July 14-17 at TCU Place.
During the two and a half days of convention business meetings, delegates will hold elections for officers and National Church Council (NCC) members, consider a number of important motions, worship together, and participate in a forum titled, “The Blanket Exercise” which will engage participants in the historic relationship between Europeans and the Indigenous nations, and in the colonization of the land we now call Canada.
The ELCIC National Convention takes place every two years and includes clergy, lay, staff members, and special guests and partners. In addition, almost 100 visitors are registered to attend and another 100 volunteers will assist with convention logistics.
An important part of convention will be the business sessions. Delegates have the opportunity to participate in discussion and vote on a number of important matters before the church. A few of the significant motions at this year’s convention, include:
Encouraging Right Relationships with Indigenous Peoples (Motion 24)
Following the Friday afternoon forum, a motion titled, An ELCIC Resolution on Encouraging Right Relationships with Indigenous Peoples will be introduced. The motion calls on the ELCIC to commit to promoting right and renewed relationships between non-indigenous and Indigenous Peoples within Canada and to affirm that recognizing and implementing indigenous rights is essential to being the kind of society Canada strives to be.
Structural Renewal Task Force Recommendations (Motion 23)
Delegates will discuss and vote in principle on a proposal for structural renewal that is designed with a goal to strengthen congregations, streamline synods and redirect financial and people resources towards mission. The recommendations include: that the ELCIC be re-organized into three synods; existing conferences be reconfigured into "areas" (groupings of congregations) supported by leadership teams; conventions of the National Church and synods be held triennially; and National Conventions be smaller in size.
Should delegates affirm this motion, the recommendations are approved in principle only. The approved motion would mean that National Church Council would move forward with the next steps in the implementation process, including taking further motions to Synod Conventions in 2012.
Addressing Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking (Motion 29)
The 2011 ELCIC National Convention will consider a call to congregations, rostered leadership and synods to provide leadership in preaching, teaching and other forms of public witness against the commercial exploitation of human beings. Study and advocacy to strengthen Canadian legislations and policies, which "discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children," are encouraged through this motion.
This motion before delegates at the National Convention affirms and supports initiatives set out by The Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada.
A Proposed ELCIC Social Statement on Human Sexuality (Motion 25)
Following four years of study, discernment and church wide consultation by the ELCIC Human Sexuality Task Force, delegates will consider for approval a Proposed ELCIC Social Statement on Human Sexuality. The statement was prepared according to the vision and process articulated in The Public Witness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada: A Policy on How the Church Addresses Social Issues. There are three sections in this statement: "Encountering the World in Which We Live" which names some of the current issues of sexuality that face our world; "Facing God and Being Church" which seeks to find common language to articulate the faith and theology which guides our life together; and "Doing Ministry" which seeks to stimulate conversation about mission and ministry at the local and global level.
Motions from the ELCIC’s Faith, Order and Doctrine Committee (Motions 26, 27 and 28)
The ELCIC’s Faith, Order and Doctrine Committee was asked to review and prepare motions arising from the Proposed ELCIC Social Statement on Human Sexuality. These motions were approved by NCC and recommended for adoption to the 2011 National Convention.
The motions before delegates address three areas: Unity of the Church, Presiding at or Blessing Marriages, and Standards for Ordination and Consecration. In the spirit of openness and transparency, NCC shared with the church these motions in an April 3, 2011 Letter to the Church from National Church Council.
National Conventions of the ELCIC are the highest legislative body of the church and are held every two years (biennially). The voting membership of convention consists of two hundred rostered ministers elected by conferences as allocated by NCC on the basis of baptized members; and lay delegates elected by each parish not already represented by an rostered minster. Parishes with greater than eight hundred baptized members may elect an additional lay delegate. Voting membership also consists of twelve youth selected by the ELCIC synods as members of the youth assembly.
Further information on the Thirteenth Biennial National Convention of the ELCIC is available online at: elcic.ca/In-Convention/2011-Saskatoon.
Note for Media Representatives: All media must be accredited in order to attend this event. Forms for accreditation can be found at the following link: elcic.ca/In-Convention/2011-Saskatoon/MediaInformation.cfm.
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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