Friday evening of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s 16th Biennial National Convention was highlighted by an evening of worship dedicated to the National Reformation Commemoration. The ecumenical service was held at St. Gianna Beretta Molla Catholic Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba. ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson preached and presided.
Ecumenical guests in attendance at the worship included: The Rev. Canon Dr. Allyson Barnett-Cowan, Canadian Council of Churches; The Rev. Peter Busch, The Presbyterian Church in Canada; The Right Rev. Jordan Cantwell, United Church of Canada; Archbishop Richard Gagnon, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops; Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Anglican Church of Canada; Dr. Kathryn Johnson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; The Rev. Dr. Willard Metzger, Mennonite Church Canada; Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.
The service began with a welcome and acknowledgement of lands. Ecumenical guests and ELCIC Synod Bishops gathered around a large baptism font located just outside the worship space in St. Gianna, in thanksgiving for Baptism, before processing in while singing This is the Spirit’s Entry Now.
Liberated by God’s Grace
Focusing on the theme for the National Convention, Liberated by God’s Grace, Johnson asked those in attendance to consider what liberation means, and how God’s grace plays a role in this current day and age.
“When we acknowledge that we are Liberated by God’s Grace, we give up all fear of our own salvation,” Johnson said. “We accept that we are made righteous because of Christ’s action, not because of our own actions. We are free to get off the hamster wheel of trying to achieve our own justification. This is a very heavy burden to be able to lay down.”
The Bishop continued by saying that being liberated through God’s underserving grace isn’t just about laying down our burdens, it is also comes with responsibilities.
“If we are Liberated by God’s Grace, then there are burdens that we take on as well,” Johnson continued. “We can no longer live as isolated, self-made people. We have to acknowledge the primary role of God in our lives, in our interconnection with the rest of God’s family, and indeed with creation itself. We cannot just take care of ourselves anymore – we need to act out God’s love and care. We have to take all of those Not for Sale, seriously. Salvation, human beings and creation are Not for Sale.”
Sharing our message with the world
When asked about her thoughts on the evening of worship, attendee Melinda Pearce responded in a very positive manner.
“This was great,” she said. “This is a beautiful space to gather in. It is also great to gather ecumenically, any chance we get. What a great message too, that we are Liberated by God’s Grace. It doesn’t end there. We get to share this message with the world that needs to know that God loves it, and God loves us.”
K.T. Werboweski – a youth delegate in attendance for the service – also added onto what Pearce shared.
“I thought this worship service was awesome,” she reflected. “It made me feel very thankful and lucky to be a part of this church community – a community consisting not only of my congregation but the synodical church, the national church as well as the worldwide church. It is incredible to be a part of such an awesome community.”
A video with participants sharing their highlights from the evening can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/nNoeE2j75l0