Highlights from National Church Council’s fall meeting

Winnipeg, 12 September 2012 — The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canadas (ELCIC) National Church Council (NCC) met in Winnipeg from September 6-8. Council members conduct the business of the church between National Conventions. The following is an overview of highlights from the meeting.

Long time national office staff person retires, thanked for service to the church

NCC members were advised that Faye Schultz, long time national office staff person, recently retired after 13 years of service. Most recently, Schultz served as Executive Assistant to the Office of the Bishop. I would like to publically thank Faye for her service to the church, said ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson. "Her warm and welcoming presence at the National Office will be greatly missed."

World Interfaith Harmony Week endorsed

NCC members endorsed a request from The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) to observe the first week of February every year as World Interfaith Harmony Week. ELCIC members are encouraged to participate in this observance.

World Interfaith Harmony Week was adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly in New York in October 2010. The adoption was based on the recognition of the need for dialogue among different faiths and religions, and highlights that the moral imperative of all religions, convictions and beliefs calls for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding. At its meeting in June 2011, The LWF Council adopted a resolution to encourage LWF member churches to observe the first week of February every year as the World Interfaith Harmony Week.

‘Supporting Families’ resource commended to ELCIC congregations and members

At the invitation of the Coalition on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth, NCC members endorsed a ‘Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children
and Youth,’ and commended the Joint Statement to the congregations and members of the ELCIC as a tool for living out the call to ‘Support Families’, one of the focuses contained in the 2011 ELCIC Social Statement on Human Sexuality.

In the ‘Doing Ministry’ section of the ELCIC Social Statement on Human Sexuality, the ELCIC commits to Support Families. The Joint Statement outlines both the negative aspect of physical punishment, and advocates for effective discipline. The call for parenting education is parallel to the ELCIC call to teach values. Legal protection from assault is a specific policy that intends to name violence as violence, and to draw a line that encourages people to look for alternative discipline measures.

The Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth has been recently endorsed by The United Church of Canada and the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa.

Update on structural renewal

Sheila Hamilton, chair of the Structural Renewal National Implementation Team provided NCC with an update on the structural renewal process. Members also heard from Synod Bishops on motions pertaining to structural renewal that came forward at their conventions.

NCC members passed a motion that will see them move forward, with changes that are in the purview of the National Church. This includes constitution and bylaw changes to affect the reduction of size of National Convention and NCC, the election of National Convention delegates by Synods, payment of delegates expenses to be the responsibility of the Synods, and the move to triennial conventions. During this meeting, NCC worked on proposed constitutional and administrative bylaw changes. These changes will come before the 2013 Joint Assembly for a first reading. If they pass, will come to the 2015 National Convention again for final approval.

As a follow up to several motions at Synod Conventions inviting further discussion among synods, NCC passed a motion to encourage the Synods to convene a consultative process. The motion invites synods to have further discussions on structural renewal in the areas of synod amalgamation and area strategy teams.

NCC members also passed a motion asking the National Church to, communicate information about the planned changes to be presented at the 2013 National Convention for synods, rostered leaders and congregations.

2013 Joint Assembly planning

Council received an update on preparations for the 2013 Joint Assembly. Next year marks the first Joint Assembly of the ELCIC and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC). The event, which takes place in Ottawa from July 3-7, 2013, will gather more than 1000 Christians for worship, fellowship and important ministry decisions. Both the ELCIC and ACC will hold their full national business sessions (National Convention and General Synod, respectively) at this event. During the five days together, Lutherans and Anglicans will gather jointly and separately under the assembly theme of Together for the love of the world.

NCC members participate in ELCIC Praise Appeal

An offering was held during the closing worship service of NCC. Over $1,300 was received and will be directed to the ELCIC Praise Appeal. This national appeal supports the ministry of the wider church.