The study was produced by the Faith, Order and Doctrine Commmittee (FOD). In May 2015, the ELCIC’s National Church Council (NCC) asked FOD to study orders of ministry with particular attention to diakonia and Diaconal Ministry.
Rev. André Lavergne, Assistant to the Bishop, ecumenical and interfaith, believes this work will not only be beneficial for the ELCIC and NCC, but also for members of the church who want to share a deeper understanding of the roles of their ministers.
“There are a number of different reasons why churches should be participating in this study,” he said, noting that the study will help congregations understand their own church while also lifting up diakonia and Diaconal Ministry. “The Orders of Ministry Study Guide offers us an important opportunity to cast our face outward.”
The study guide, titled To Love Our Neighbours as Ourselves, is broken up into four sections. The first section focuses on a theology of God, mission and church. The second section focuses on the call of the baptized, asking what the vocation of those baptized into ELCIC may be, and how it differs from those set apart for the public office of ministry. The third section talks about the rostered forms of ministry in the ELCIC. The final section describes how the ELCIC sees its place in God’s mission today, acknowledges some challenges before us, and looks at some possibilities for promoting an enthusiastic embrace of everyone’s role in the mission of the church.
For Rev. Marc Jerry, chair of FOD, this study guide will have significant implications on the future usage of, and appropriate training for Diaconal Ministers. Jerry serves as a member of the NCC, and will have a chance to review responses to the study during a thorough evaluation period – an opportunity that he believes will provide many chances to learn, reflect and reassess.
For Jerry, the hope is that this study triggers the same kind of response and conversation that the NCC’s previous study of Word and Sacrament Ministry generated.
“What we did not expect to happen following our most recent study was that there was a real thirst across the church to have good theological discussion about what it means to be Lutheran,” he said. “My hope is that the church is still in the mood to have some of these great conversations.”
The study guide can be found online and downloaded by individual congregations to use as they are able. The due date for responses is April 17th, 2017. Access to the material can be found at https://elcic.ca/faithorderdoctrine/OrdersofMinistry.cfm.