Service, mission, theology and unity are foundational, says LWF General Secretary

“God’s mission has never been about numbers. It has instead always been about the wonderful story of liberation, transformation and the promise of new life,” said Rev. Dr Martin Junge, general secretary of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in a presentation to the 2019 National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) on Friday, July 12, 2019, meeting in Regina.

Junge reminded the convention of the four foundational pillars on which the LWF is grounded. These were developed by first Executive Committee of the LWF when they came together in 1947, right after Second World War.

He then explained how service, mission, theology and unity are the foundational pillars still shaping us today.

The first one related to the suffering of people because of war. Today, the LWF serves more than 2.3 million refugees worldwide. It is one of the largest faith-based implementing partners of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

The second calling of our communion relates to cooperation among churches in mission. “One of the crossroads at which we stand as a global communion of churches today is to go beyond this one-directional perspective,” he said.

Things have changed: our largest member church today is in Ethiopia. The second largest is Tanzania. Churches struggling with their viability and sustainability can be found today both in the South and in the North.

“Our communion needs to grow into a new reality, in which each church will always and at all times understand itself as one being at both the giving and the receiving end, learning from each other, adding value to each other.”

The third calling that brought LWF member churches together at the time of its foundation was the theological work. “Churches realized how theology had been used to promote discrimination and to whitewash violence and oppression,” Junge said.

“A church on its own, is a church at risk”, he noted. “And this is particularly true as it relates to the ‘grammar’ of its witness, hence, for its theology. This is why we have been working together, to understand what informs our understanding of Scripture.”

The fourth pillar is about unity. Junge reminded the convention that, “To be Lutheran is to be ecumenical!”

He pointed out that, “We are not … where we should be, sharing the gifts of God at the table that is never ours but God’s alone. I invite you to continue supporting our joint ecumenical journey. This, too, is a way of journeying together for the sake of reconciliation.”
“The church has a past, but it doesn’t belong to the past,” he concluded. “It belongs to the present and has a future, because of God. God continues making things new, on this very day, nurturing and guiding God’s people as they live their baptismal vocation in everyday life.

“Sisters and brothers, there is no other time to be the church, than the current times. And therefore, there isn’t a better time to be the church, than this one.”

The ELCIC is a member church of the LWF, a global communion of 148 churches in 99 countries in the world and its over 75 million members.

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Delegates pass recommendations from the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission

Friday morning’s plenary session included the Report of National Church Council, including the recommendations from the Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission (JALC), which came in the form of three motions in the Bulletin of Reports.

Rev. Jeff Smith, Eastern Synod rostered member of the NCC, and Pat Lovell, Eastern Synod Lay member of the NCC, presented the motions – all of which were carried by delegates.

The motions – found on page F-33 of the Bulletin of Reports – are as follows:

Motion 2 – Report of the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission

That the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada accepts the Report of the Joint Anglican- Lutheran Commission (JALC) with deep gratitude for JALC’s witness and initiative and that this convention renews the JALC mandate to 2022 for a commission of similar size and composition which includes some new and some existing members and that the commission shall host a joint meeting of the Commission and the Lutheran-Episcopal Co-ordinating Committee once in the triennium.

Motion 3 – A Common Word

That the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada expresses its gratitude for, and accepts the gift of, A Common Word between Us and You. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada joins other national and international Christian churches and leaders as signatories to A Common Word between Us and You and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, in partnership with the Anglican Church of Canada, will jointly initiate a program of resourcing and supporting Christian-Muslim engagement in receptive communities across Canada, based on the model of A Common Word and the various expression of it.

“Muslim leaders and scholars have invited Christians into a process of Muslim-Christian dialogue and engagement, which is based on love of God, and love of neighbor,” said Pat Lovell. “This motion builds on the actions of our 2015 convention, where we adopted Welcoming the Stranger, and honours our witness to the Muslim community in our Statement to Muslims in 2017. Further, it helps us to live into our own Interfaith Guidelines, approved at the same 2017 convention.”

Motion 4 – Affirmation of Relationship of Full Communion

Based upon the witness of the Memorandum of Mutual Recognition of Relations of Full Communion (Niagara Falls ON, 2018), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada affirms that a relationship of Full Communion exists among the four churches governed by either Called to Common Mission (USA, 1999 & 2000) or the Waterloo Declaration (2001) and that this affirmation shall have full effect upon the completion of a similar action in each of our three partner churches.

Eastern Synod Bishop Michael Pryse (former Co-Chair of the Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission and past Co-Chair of the Anglican-Lutheran International Coordinating Committee) spoke in affirmation of Motion 4, while praising the work done by the JALC.

“This is truly an historic recommendation to our respective churches. This is a movement that is being observed globally. It is giving much encouragement and putting much wind in the sails around full communion relationships globally and ecumenical relationships globally. I hope the delegates recognize that we have done something truly historic.”

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Reconciliation with Creation; National Convention presenters challenge delegates to reflect on personal choices and responsibilities

During the first evening of the 2019 ELCIC National Convention, Dr. David Sauchyn, University of Regina and Dr. Mary Vetter, Luther College presented on the topic of Reconciliation with Creation – a in depth discussion on the mix of science, faith and the journey of global reconciliation. Dr. Vetter is a former biology professor with expertise in the field of botany and plant taxonomy, while Dr. Sauchyn specializes in prairie hydroclimate and climate change science.

Dr. Sauchyn – current Executive Director of the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (PARC) – highlighted for delegates the serious matters of global warming, providing intellectual insight with various examples/models of the potential combinations of science, technology and Christian faith.

“When it really comes down to it, climate change is much more than a scientific problem,” Dr. Sauchyn claimed. “Climate change is a social problem, it’s a spiritual problem, and it’s a social justice problem; we need wisdom to tackle it. And science doesn’t give us wisdom. It only gives us data and information.”

The University of Regina’s longtime professor of geography gave the example of Saskatchewan – which produces the second-most greenhouse gases per capita in the world – as a local model. Amongst other noteworthy statistics, Sauchyn also touched on the fact that June 2019 was the 414th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th Century average.

“The fundamental problem is we are telling one another a reassuring lie,” he said. “We are telling each other that technology will take care of it – it won’t. We are telling each other that the problem is not as serious as it seems – not true. We are all in passive denial. We love to complain about climate change deniers, but the fact is, we are all in denial. It is going to take some kind of way of understanding, some other way of knowing – other than science – to put us on a trajectory where we can lessen our effect on the world, the atmosphere and on creation.”

Following a half-hour discussion time at delegate tables, Dr. Vetter presented further on the theme of reconciliation, providing teachings, challenges and information that made the assembly reflect on personal choices and responsibilities, pushing delegates, guests and visitors to think deeper about their specific roles in reconciliation with creation.

“Pursuing Reconciliation with Creation is challenging,” she reflected. “Science itself cannot give us the wisdom for reconciliation. We need scripture, faith, empathy, experience and scholarship across all disciplines. It is not hard to identify some of the barriers to reconciliation. At this point, we may not even recognize climate change, as we already live in one of the most variable climates on earth. How are we even really going to see it?”

Vetter’s experience as a Lutheran biology professor, paired with her time conducting paleobotanical research provided for an insightful lesson in earthly reconciliation, and care for creation.

“We are truly blessed with a place to stand in God’s love,” Dr. Vetter continued. “Even in the midst of complexity and confusion, we are aware that all of creation is God’s work in love. We acknowledge through confession that both individually and collectively, we have not always treated it that way. Forgiveness frees and empowers us to stride for atonement. And seek the moral, spiritual power that will transform our actions.”

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The Call to Journey Faithfully with those who are Dying

Members of the Task Force on Decisions at the End of Life addressed delegates several times throughout the agenda for the 2019 ELCIC National Convention.

Members on the committee brought to this work significate experience in palliative care, medical ethics, theological expertise, and it also included a member of the Anglican church of Canada.

On the Thursday night of convention, Rev. Lynn Granke, Jeanie Stann, Dr. Janet Storch and Rev. Paul Gehrs provided a background on the work of the taskforce.

On Friday morning, delegate participated in table group discussions on the motions to reflect on what surprised delegates about the document; what shaped or informed further thoughts on the document; what implications need to be considered for the ELCIC; and other comments.

At the 2015 ELCIC National Convention, delegates passed a motion asking the ELCIC’s National Church Council (NCC) to review the ELCIC’s current policy on assisted death. In response, NCC established a Task Force to encourage conversations across our church regarding the needs of people in times of death and dying, and to review our current resolution and make recommended updates. The task force’s final report was submitted at the September 2018 National Church Council meeting.

Following the conclusion of the task force’s work, National Church Council brought forward four motions for consideration at convention:

  • Motion #8: The Call to Faithfully Journey with those who are Dying: An ELCIC Resolution
  • Motion #9: Resources for Spiritual Care
  • Motion #10: Access to Palliative Care
  • Motion #11: Access to Mental Health Care Services

Delegates to the 2019 ELCIC National Convention passed all four motions with a significant majority.

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Delegates to convention approve Reimagining our church: Public Ministry in the ELCIC

The 2019 National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) approved the document Reimaging Our Church – Public Ministry in the ELCIC. It begins a process to live into a new and fresh vision of the ELCIC that encourages all members to consider how best we can participate in God’s mission and together imagine and build a church which is missional, diaconal and prophetic.

It explores the meaning and implications of the term “public ministry” as well as the roles of deacon, pastors, bishop and laity. An immediate outcome of accepting the document and related motions is that the ELCIC now recognizes that “ordination” is the rite which marks and celebrates the acceptance of a first call into public ministry of a deacon, or a bishop or a pastor.

The heart of the 55-page document is a collection of aspirational statements that describe what the ELCIC would be like if it fully embraced the emerging vision. Both the document and an accompanying study guide are available online here.

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2019 ELCIC In Mission for Others Leadership Award Recipient Announced

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) is pleased to announce Carolyn Ethier as the 2019 ELCIC In Mission for Others Leadership Award. The award recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the life and work of the wider church.

Her involvement in the church truly represents what it means to be In Mission for Others throughout all expressions of the ELCIC.

Ethier describes how receiving word that she was this year’s recipient of the award gave her opportunity to reflect on God’s call and on leadership. “What stands out immediately is that I was never called to act alone,” she says. “I’m filled with deep gratitude for companions who have shared the journey.”

In her local congregation, Ethier has served in nearly every conceivable role, most predominantly on the worship planning team responsible for Sunday morning worship.

Since her early teens she has been active in the life of her congregation, serving as an pianist for worship and choir. For the last 20 years, she has chaired her congregation’s worship planning committee. In addition, she arranges for music and musicians for worship, has assisted with planning the Local Ecumenical Reformation Service in Lethbridge last October, serrved on Call Committees when needed, and currently serves as council chair.

Synodically, she has participated in arranging and submitting articles for Adoramus – a newsletter for the Worship and Arts Ministry Team of the Synod of Alberta and the Territories. She was chair of the Worship Planning Team for the past two ABT Synod conventions. And, she has also prepared worship resources for congregations which shas shared at Synodical Congregational Life Events.

Nationally she is secretary of the ELCIC Program Committee for Worship. She attends and participates in the National Worship Conferences and actively contributes with the committee to create worship resources for small assemblies. She has also contributed to our national devotional publication – Eternity for Today.

In a letter of support accompanying her nomination, one individual shared, “I have learned a lot from her, and I know there must be hundreds of people, all across Canada, who have known their spiritual lives deepened and their Sunday liturgies enlivened by her.”

The 2019 ELCIC In Mission for Others Leadership Award was presented to Ethier at the 2019 ELCIC National Convention.

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Convention font echos land and utilize naturally grown, locally sourced materials

The Font for the 2019 ELCIC National Convention was designed by artist Jeffrey Taylor, Newschool Arts, Duval, Saskatchewan.

“I am very proud to have been asked to create this baptismal font,” says Jeffrey. “It was one of those serendipitous God occurrences when the Rev. Patricia Simonson asked me if I could make a bowl for the font, and also inquired if I would be interested in making the base as well.”

The original idea was to have the base constructed out of reclaimed elevator timbers. “We sat and talked about the project at my table, which happened to be made from reclaimed elevator lumber, and I grew excited about taking on the task,” describes Jeffrey. “As Pat and I spoke of the materials that might be used, we shared a desire to use as many naturally grown, locally sourced materials as possible. So, all the antler used was from naturally shed antlers which fall off the deer and then regrow each year. The clay comes from pits in southern Saskatchewan and Alberta. The wood was sourced from a local wood reclaiming company that specializes in grain elevator timbers.”

As Jeffrey thought and prayed about the project, his mind was drawn to the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:1-23. “I felt that it was an apt passage for a baptismal font that was to represent Saskatchewan.”

The decorative marks on my pottery echo the land around Jeffrey. Furrows and fields echoed in the dark marks, clouds in the sky and snowbanks are imagined in the blank spaces. Both bowl and marks made from mixtures of the abundant clay, which lies beneath our province’s fertile layer of topsoil. On the font, there are subtle green markings. Looking closely, on both on the inside and outside, there are three intersecting circular marks representing the Trinity. Flowing out of this are lines that flow around the bowl as an expression of how God is at work in the world.

The base has simple straight lines that bring to mind the provincial boundaries. Jeffrey has been exploring working with antler as a creative material for a few years, and antler inlay was next on his list of things to try. Each pair of inlaid images represents one of the types of soil used in the parable to describe the differing responses to the gospel reading:

“A farmer went out to scatter seed. As he was scattering seed, some fell on the path, and birds came and ate it.  Other seed fell on rocky ground where the soil was shallow. They sprouted immediately because the soil wasn’t deep.  But when the sun came up, it scorched the plants, and they dried up because they had no roots.  Other seed fell among thorny plants. The thorny plants grew and choked them. Other seed fell on good soil and bore fruit, in one case a yield of one hundred to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of thirty to one. Everyone who has ears should pay attention.”

The bolted sections are of differing lengths to echo the differing harvests coming from the good soil. Using reclaimed lumber means it comes with a variety of marks and scars from its previous life, beautiful stories of the journey the wood has taken, and perhaps an echo of our own lives as God works on and in us to reclaim, restore and reconcile us.

Following National Convention, the font will take up residence in its new home: Luther College’s Chapel, as they were in need of a font.

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Opening worship highlights

“We are called to be together, and to journey together. Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I will be in your midst,” said Rev. Dr. Martin Junge, general secretary of The Lutheran World Federation, in his sermon at the opening worship service of the 17th National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), meeting at the University of Regina, in Saskatchewan, July 11-13.

Special guest Rev. Dr. Martin Junge preached, while ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson presided over the service. Roughly 150 delegates gathered in Regina, while special guests, visitors and volunteers were also in attendance. Thursday afternoon’s opening worship service marked the official opening of convention, highlighted by the singing of hymns, sharing peace, Holy Communion and a handcrafted confession.

Local elder Betty McKenna greeted the assembly and formally welcomed those gathered on Treaty Four Territory. Following the greeting, convention participants took part in a service of confession, assembled by Debbie Hill, Arlene Granbois and Doreen Topp, with the help of Regina Indigenous Christian Fellowship minister Bert Adema. The personalized confession was shaped in a way to continue onward in the journey toward reconciliation.

In his sermon, Rev. Dr. Junge shared the story of Nicodemus (John 3), comparing the similarities between the idea of being ‘born again/born from above’ and the theme of the 2019 ELCIC National Convention, Called to Journey Together: The Ministry of Reconciliation.

“It is not because of who we are, and it is not because of what we do, but it is because of who God is, and what God does in Christ,” said Rev. Dr. Junge. “We are justified, liberated, invited to receive a new life, which doesn’t come forth from our doing – our being, but it comes forth because of what God does, and who God is.”

The convention agenda further includes the proposal of 22 significant motions on important mission and ministry relating to: The Call to Journey with those who are Dying, a resolution on single-use plastics, Reimaging our Church – Public Ministry in the ELCIC, Resolution on Respect for LGBTQ2SIA+ persons, and many more; the elections of Secretary, Treasurer, National Church Council, Court of Appeal and National Bishop; the Report of the National Bishop, as well as several presentations spread out over the agenda to lift up reconciling with creation, journeying with Indigenous Peoples, and journeying with people of other faiths. The ELCIC In Mission for Others Leadership Award will also be presented to the 2019 recipient.

More information as well as a live link to the ELCIC’s National Convention is available on the ELCIC website

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ELCIC National Convention to Meet at the University of Regina

Over 150 delegates, special guests and visitors from across Canada will gather in Regina, SK this week to participate in the 2019 National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. The convention, under the theme Called to Journey Together: The Ministry of Reconciliation will take place July 11-13 at the University of Regina campus.

((During the three-day convention, delegates will hold elections for Secretary, Treasurer, National Church Council, Court of Appeal and National Bishop, while discussing a number of significant motions. Business sessions will include morning and evening worship, as well as several presentations spread out over the agenda to lift up reconciling with creation, journeying with Indigenous Peoples, and journeying with people of other faiths.

“Attending National Convention is like coming to a family reunion,” said ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson. “Even if you haven’t been before, you will be welcomed like family, have the chance to meet people from across the church and across the country, and you will be able to re-establish old friendships while making new ones. Our church is doing exciting things, and you have the opportunity to be a part of the decision-making that sets the groundwork for the future of our church.”((

The ELCIC National Convention takes place every three years and includes clergy and lay delegates, partners, special guests, visitors, volunteers, and staff.

Delegates will consider over 22 motions throughout the three days of convention on important mission and ministry relating to: The Call to Journey with those who are Dying; a resolution on single-use plastics; Reimaging our Church – Public Ministry in the ELCIC; Resolution on Respect for LGBTQ2SIA+ persons; and many more.

The ELCIC is will once again present the ELCIC In Mission for Others Leadership Award at convention. This award recognizes an individual – either rostered or lay – who has made an outstanding contribution to the life and work of the wider church over several years. Nominations were made from across the church; this year’s recipient will be announced Thursday evening.

Further information on the ELCIC’s 2019 National Convention is available online at:

A live webcast will be available for convention. It can be accessed at

All local media must be accredited in order to attend this event. Forms for accreditation can be found at the following link:


The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 114,592 baptized members in 525 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches. Material provided through ELCIC Information is intended for reproduction and redistribution by recipients in whatever manner they may find useful.

For more information, please contact:

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Director of Communications
600-177 Lombard Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 0W5(

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Church Leaders Pledge Solidarity in Prayer and Action

A letter from the leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Anglican Church of Canada, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Episcopal Church


As sisters and brothers in the Lutheran and Anglican/Episcopal traditions, and in the spirit of full communion between our respective Churches in Canada and the United States, we the Primatial/National/Presiding Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and The Episcopal Church are happy to say that, in the last ten years, we have intentionally deepened our own partnerships. We have done this through our annual “4 Way” meetings, joint Advent and Lenten devotions, and shared public statements on issues that concern the human family and our common home, the earth itself. We rejoice in our genuine friendship, and are grateful for the mutual support and encouragement we enjoy in the exercise of our ministries.

Our churches are all holding their respective Conventions, Synods and Assemblies during 2018/2019. We pledge our prayers as bishops, clergy and laity come together to deliberate over matters of concern unique to each Church and those common to all of us. We pray that in the midst of all the demands on our attention to matters domestic we not lose sight of our calling as the Church to be “in and for the world” (World Council of Churches, The Church: Towards a Common Vision, 2013).

We invite the members of our Churches to join us in prayer during the periods of these churchwide gatherings:

Anglican Church of Canada General Synod – July 10-16, 2019, Vancouver, British Columbia
Decisions include:

* Election of new Primate
* Canonical changes to empower the continuing emergence of structures to support the formation of a self-governing Indigenous Anglican Church within the Anglican Church of Canada
* Proposed amendments to the National Canon on Marriage
* Memorandum of Mutual Recognition of Relations of Full Communion

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada National Convention – July 11- 13, 2019, Regina, Saskatchewan

Decisions include:
* Election of a National Bishop
* Consideration of:
    * “The Call to Journey Faithfully with Those Who Are Dying”
    * “Reimagining Our Church: Public Ministry in the ELCIC”
    * Memorandum of Mutual Recognition of Relations of Full Communion
    * Signing on to “A Common Word Between Us and You” and initiation of a joint ACC-ELCIC program of Muslim-Christian engagement

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Churchwide Assembly – August 5-10, 2019, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Decisions include:

    * Elections for Presiding Bishop and for Secretary
    * Celebration of 50th anniversary of decision to ordain women
    * Consideration of:
    * “Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment”
    * “Faith, Sexism, and Justice”
    * “Declaration to Persons of African Descent”

Almighty and ever-living God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We pledge not only our prayers, but also our continued commitment to explore more deeply how to live into our communion partnerships and our common witness to Jesus Christ whose prayer is this, “that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:21)

Archbishop Fred Hiltz (Anglican Church of Canada)
National Bishop Susan Johnson (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada)
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry (The Episcopal Church)

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