March National Church Council Highlights

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s (ELCIC) National Church Council (NCC) met in Winnipeg from March 7-9. Council members conduct the business of the church between National Conventions. The following is an overview of highlights from the meeting:

Synod Area Strategy implementation
ELCIC Synod Bishops are present at all NCC meetings and provide a synopsis for council on the landscape of their region. At this meeting, Synod Bishops shared the excitement they felt within their regions regarding the implementation of area strategy models – groupings of congregations based on geography or other mission-related criteria.

The model is unique to the context of each synod, but Synod Bishops were unanimous in identifying this area of ministry as a positive highlight in their reports to NCC.

“We are in this together because we need each other,” said Saskatchewan Synod Bishop Cindy Halmarson during her report. “But because we are together we can more faithfully respond to God’s call to mission and ministry.”

Mentor’s Handbook added to Candidacy Manual
National Church Council members passed a motion to endorse the Mentor’s Handbook as a recommended resource during candidacy. The handbook will be included in the Candidacy Manual as an appendix and is intended to be a valuable resource for both diaconal and ordained ministry.

As outlined in the manual, “mentoring is a one-to-one relationship, based on mutual trust, respect, openness, and confidentiality in which the mentor, drawing on a fund of experience, offers encouragement, counsel and guidance.”

The ELCIC Candidacy Manual recommends every candidate has a mentor, and outlines and establishes guidelines for both participants – mentor and mentee – along with goals, timelines and expectations.

Report on climate change
NCC members received a report by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) delegation at the 18th Conference of Parties (COP18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The ELCIC had one youth delegate participant as part of the delegation at the request and expense of LWF.

In their report, LWF delegates emphasized the importance of every member church within the communion having a critical stake in addressing climate change. Delegate members believe, “that all can and should do more to work towards healing our creation and ensuring a future for generations to come.” A number of recommendations for the LWF and its member churches were cited in the report, including, engaging with civil society to continuously advocate and lobby governments towards increased action and exploring the issue of climate change through theological reflection in Lutheran, ecumenical and interfaith frameworks.

Jeff Bushe, ELCIC’s representative for the conference and a member of NCC, reported on the work of the delegation and his experience at COP18. The LWF delegation was extensively involved in the educational side of the gathering. From the event, all LWF delegates are charged with coming up with a project to be implemented within their own context.

Strategic plan reviewed
Following up on a one-day visioning session from 2012, NCC members reviewed a new National Church Strategic Plan. In a process led by National Church Vice-President Sheila Hamilton, ELCIC National Office senior staff and the National Bishop took the outcomes from the visioning session and worked extensively on articulating the activities that will enable the National Church to fulfil the goals set out in the strategy.

NCC typically sets a five-year strategic plan for the National Church and it was time for renewal.

The National Church Strategic Plan sets out the goals and directions for service. The new plan will see the ELCIC focus on four areas: Spirited Discipleship, Healthy Church, Compassionate Justice, and Effective Partnerships.  

The National Church Strategic Plan 2013-2017 will be presented at the 2013 Joint Assembly as part of National Convention business.

Update on the 2013 Joint Assembly
NCC members received an update on the planning for 2013 Joint Assembly. Staff at the ELCIC National Office and the Anglican Church of Canada General Synod have been hard at work coordinating the  joint event which will take place in Ottawa July 3-7, 2013.

Council members affirmed a motion to include electronic voting as part of Joint Assembly (and during official National Convention business sessions). Electronic voting will present a number of exciting new possibilities to planners and presenters. A significant advantage will be the opportunity for real-time results, increased accuracy, and different data output options (Excel, pie charts, etc…).

At the Joint Assembly there will be both joint and separate sessions for the two denominations. Further information on the event will be available on as it becomes available. Over 800 delegates from the two churches will be at the gathering.

Adjournment and next meetings
The March NCC meeting adjourned with a closing worship service led by Rev. Lyle McKenzie, assistant to the National Bishop for worship.

NCC members will meet prior to the 2013 Joint Assembly on Tuesday, July 2. The fall meeting of NCC will take place September 5-7, 2013.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 145,376 baptized members in 594 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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