A Call to Discipleship; an invitation from the leaders of the ELCIC, ACC, TEC and ELCA

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Anglican Church of Canada, The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, together with all 319 members of the World Council of Churches, have received the Arusha Call, a report from the WCC gathering in Tanzania in March 2018 which examined the current practices and understanding of Christian mission. In this joint message, the four leaders commend the Arusha Call to Discipleship to the four churches.

The joint letter can be downloaded here. The text of the letter follows:

Hearing the Message from Arusha, Tanzania in our Churches in Canada and the U.S.A.

An Invitation from:

Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry, The Episcopal Church
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Archbishop and Primate Fred Hiltz, Anglican Church of Canada
National Bishop Susan C. Johnson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

What is the Arusha Call?

Together with all 319 members of the World Council of Churches (WCC), our churches have received the Arusha Call, the report from a gathering in Tanzania in March 2018 which examined the current practice and understanding of Christian mission. For this task the WCC’s Commission on World Mission and Evangelism assembled more than a thousand participants, whose diversities of cultural backgrounds and denominational traditions were unprecedented at this recurring conference.  After deep and discerning listening, a summary statement was produced, The Arusha Call to Discipleship. It is found here:

The hope of the WCC is to assist, inspire and connect churches like ours in our own reflections on these vital topics.

What does the Arusha Call say to our churches?

This Call helpfully comes to us at a decisive moment, as our four churches commit anew to engage together the challenges and opportunities of faithful mission in our fast-changing contexts.

We are mindful especially of seeking racial justice, of  honouring the Quad-Centennial (1619-2019) of the forced trans-Atlantic transportation of enslaved African persons to this continent; of challenging theologies which have endorsed dispossession of Indigenous Peoples; and of strengthening our support for the displaced and dispossessed seeking new beginnings in our midst.

We welcome this witness from Christians around the world. The Call is a document of realism and of joy, of honest assessment and of hope for transformation, of trust in the way of Christ and in the power of the Spirit. ((Especially, we lift up these features of the Call, which gives voice to many of the same convictions increasingly emphasized in our four churches:

  • 1. It identifies deepening the discipleship of Christians as the primary missional and evangelical concern, knowing that the Gospel truly lived is the best form of witness to it.
  • 2. It defines mission in a manner that seeks to move away from colonialist perspectives, understanding that it is not the work of the Church directed ‘to the margins’ but God’s work originating ‘from the margins’.
  • 3. It insists that all mission and evangelism must be integrated and holistic, not endorsing any false dichotomy between a spiritual salvation and the transformation of social, economic, racial, environmental, and gender injustices.
  • 4. It understands that as the Church is called into ‘active collaboration’ in God’s mission, this responsibility rests not only with those who serve in offices of leadership in the Church; it relies on a renewal of the vocations and ministry of all the baptized. Read in our cultural settings, the Call provides a common touchstone in the continued shaping of our full communion efforts in mission and evangelism across the national border which separates us. This full communion is an important sign of our deepening unity as churches in ministry together on this land long known to many as Turtle Island, the continent of North America.

We thus commend the Arusha Call to Discipleship to our four churches as we expand and deepen the relationships of full communion among us. May our growth in unity also lead us to a ‘personal and communal conversion, and a transforming discipleship’, for sake of God’s mission in the world.

We make this commendation recognizing, as did the Arusha message, that ‘this is not a call that we can answer in our own strength, so the call becomes, in the end, a call to prayer:(Loving God, we thank you for the gift of life in all its diversity and beauty. Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, we praise you that you came to find the lost, to free the oppressed, to heal the sick, and to convert the self-centred. Holy Spirit, we rejoice that you breathe in the life of the world and are poured out into our hearts. As we live in the Spirit, may we also walk in the Spirit. Grant us faith and courage to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus: becoming pilgrims of justice and peace in our time. For the blessing of your people, the sustaining of the earth, and the glory of your name. Through Christ our Lord, Amen’.

Toronto, May 2019

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Marlin Aadland, first Bishop of the BC Synod, dies

Marlin Bennie Aadland died peacefully at the age of 82 on May 30, 2019 in Surrey, B.C.

Aadland was elected to serve as the first Bishop of the British Columbia Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) in 1985 and served for three terms until 1998.

“Marlin had a deep faith, was a brilliant teacher and had an outstanding sense of humour. I give thanks to God for his faithful service to God and the church,” says ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson. “Our prayers are with his wife Jeanette and all who mourn Marlin’s death.”

He earned his B.A. degree at Augsburg College in 1962, followed by an MDiv. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon in 1966. In 1981, he completed his doctorate degree from the Boston University School of Theology.

Aadland served as pastor in Lutheran parishes in Wetaskiwin, Burnaby and Vancouver.

He is survived by his wife of almost 55 years, Jeanette (nee Quenzer); children Jeff (Effie) Aadland and Jill (Robin) Smalley; and grandchildren. He is lovingly remembered by his sisters Vivian Brown of Loreburn, SK and Sharon Wankel of Saskatoon, and their families.

Funeral service and reception will be held on Friday, June 7, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at Mount Olive Lutheran Church (2350 148th St. Surrey, B.C.). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon or Canadian Lutheran World Relief.

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Jerusalem and the Holy Land Sunday

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, together with the Anglican Church of Canada, lifts up the Seventh Sunday of Easter as Jerusalem and the Holy Land Sunday.

Congregations and ministries are encouraged to include the following prayer, and other possible recognitions on Sunday, June 2, 2019.

Further resources from the Anglican Church of Canada are available here: www.anglican.ca/gr/provinces/jerusalem/sunday/.

A Prayer for Peace in Jerusalem and the Holy Land
– Seventh Sunday of Easter

God of all peoples, acknowledging the significance of Jerusalem and the Holy Land in the history and lives of Jews, Christians and Muslims; and aware of political and social conflicts in the State of Israel and surrounding nations, and global involvement and tensions focused on this region; we pray for justice and lasting peace, compassion and hope for all peoples of these lands. As you hear the cries of those who suffer, grant them new life. Continue to uphold the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land and Bishop Ibrahim Azar, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and Archbishop Suheil, and supporting organizations and agencies working for the wellbeing of all. Amen.



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ELCIC members encouraged to respond through prayers and financial support following the devastation of Cyclone Idai

***UPDATE as of April 1, 2019: The Government of Canada has announced that donations designated to Cyclone Idai will be matched until April 14.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), through our partner Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR), calls on its members to respond through prayer and financial aid in support of relief efforts in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi following the devastation of Cyclone Idai. The powerful storm, which made landfall in Mozambique on March 15, killed at least 750 people and has left hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes.

“We pray for all those affected by Cyclone Idai,” says ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson. “We pray for the people of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, for the dead, the injured, the displaced, and all who mourn the effects of Cyclone Idai. We pray for generous support of all who will work to bring relief and aid.”

Needs have only increased in the days since the storm. Damaged infrastructure is complicating humanitarian efforts and damaged water systems are intensifying the risk of waterborne illnesses like cholera. Children are particularly vulnerable and many have been separated from their families.

CLWR is responding to relief efforts through its partnership in the Humanitarian Coalition, a national coalition that will raise funds to support a quick and effective response to the crisis. Donations received by CLWR will support response through ACT Alliance, which includes organizations on the ground in all three affected countries who are well-positioned to deliver immediate response.

As part of the ELCIC’s Disaster Response Fund, $5,000 will be forwarded immediately to CLWR to assist with relief efforts.

Individuals and congregations wishing to support relief efforts can donate as follows:

* Make a designated offering donation for “Cyclone Idai” through any ELCIC congregation.
* Call CLWR at 1-800-661-2597 (locally at 204-694-6502) to donate by credit card or go online at https://www.clwr.org/cyclone-idai.
* Send a cheque made payable to CLWR and mailed to CLWR, 600-177 Lombard Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3B 0W5. Please indicate that you wish to contribute to “Cyclone Idai.”

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Standing with our Muslim neighbours

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) National Bishop Susan C. Johnson has written an open letter to Muslim friends in Canada and Muslim neighbours in New Zealand, following the attack at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

A pdf of the letter can be found here. The text of the letter follows:


Grace and peace to you.

Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you, says the Lord. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands. —Isaiah 49:15-16

Early Friday morning, we received with shock the news of the attacks that occurred at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. I am heartbroken and lled with horror at the massacre of innocent people gathered for prayer in the Al-Noor Masjid and Linwood Islamic Centre.

In those early hours, I called on the members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada to join me in the following prayer:

God of consolation, we mourn the two mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch. We pray for the victims, the injured, their families, and all who are now afraid of further violence. Strengthen us to stand with our Muslim neighbours against all forms of Islamophobia and to work to end gun violence. Amen.

In 2015, our ELCIC National Convention endorsed the document Welcoming the Stranger. In this action, we af rmed that our “faith teaches that compassion, mercy, love and hospitality are for everyone: the native born and the foreign born, the member of my community and the newcomer.” We joined with people of all faiths on a journey toward peace, respect and true community.

In January 2017, I called for prayers and solidarity following the attack that occurred during Sunday night prayers at a Quebec City mosque. I urged the members of our church to “reach out in a genuine expression of love for our neighbour as we stand in solidarity… and speak out against all forms of racism and violence against Muslims.”

At our upcoming National Convention this July, we will continue to work towards further relationship and the support of Christian-Muslim engagement in communities across Canada.

I am inviting every community in our Church to embrace our Muslim sisters and brothers; to stand with our Muslim neighbours against all forms of Islamophobia; and to consider how we might reach out to one another in our communities, in gestures of support and human solidarity.

In times of shock, horror, and dif culty, people of faith look to the God of mercy for comfort, strength and hope. It is God’s steadfast presence and love that leads toward healing and restoration of spirit that helps us to choose the ways of peace.

The nurturing of interfaith relationships and respect for persons of other faith communities is of the utmost importance as we seek to worship and follow the God who always remembers and cherishes each of God’s children.

Yours in Christ,

Susan C. Johnson,

National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

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New Eternity for Today App launched

Eternity for Today has long been a daily devotional resource of the ELCIC. Now you can get this devotional series on your iPhone or computer desktop!

Download the app from iTunes (search ELCIC or Eternity for Today) and sign up online here. Don’t have a smartphone? View the devotions on your computer desktop!

Android and Blackberry apps available shortly.

Print copies of Eternity for Today are available here.

MARCH 2019: The EFT app was recently upgraded following the introduction of a new Apple iphone operating system. If you are experiencing problems loggin in, please remove and re-install the app to correct the issue.

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Call for images for ELCIC Worship Bulletin Covers

Where do you see ‘people in mission’ in our community?

In our churches? On the playground? At work? At rest? In recreation?

The ELCIC Program Committee for Worship (PCW) is putting out a call for images to be used on worship bulletin covers for the 2018 – 2019 liturgical year based on the theme People in Mission.

The images of People in Mission can be as diverse as your imagination. How do you see people in mission in the world around you? Are you surprised by what you see, or maybe encouraged? Are there any images that challenge us and let us see mission in a different way?

Please submit images for the second half of the bulletin series by March 18, 2019 in an email to: BulletinPictures@gmail.com and include the following information:

  • Photographer who took the image(s)
  • Location where the photo was taken
  • Story behind the photo – why did you take this photo?  How does it show people in mission to you? Include the name of the congregation, if appropriate.
  • Completed Copyright Transfer and Confirmation of Consent to use Images, available on the Canadian Church Bulletin website at churchbulletins.ca.

o   As needed, there are also Consent to use Image forms available at churchbulletins.ca – both for youth under 18 years old and adults.

o   Consent is only needed for images where the main subject is recognizable. Images of a crowd in a public place (for instance, a worship service) do not require consent. Consent can of course be verbal, but a signed form is best.
Since the bulletin covers require a square image, your photo may be cropped to fit as needed. From a practical point of view, any jpeg (.jpg) image that is 2.6 MB or more in size can work.  Images must be submitted by March 18, 2019.

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Fulfilling the promise to create a Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada National Bishop Susan C. Johnson, along with Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald and ACC Archbishop Fred Hiltz, are urging the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada to fulfil the "promise to create a Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE).

The text of the letter to the Prime Minister follows. Download a copy of the letter here.

January 31, 2019

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister:

We are writing to urge you and the Government of Canada to fulfil your promise to create a Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE).

On January 17, 2018, your government promised that:

  • It would create the CORE,
  • The CORE would be fully independent, and
  • The CORE would have the powers needed to investigate—including the power to compel the truth.

In the 2013 Joint Assembly Declaration, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada committed to addressing together issues of responsible resource extraction (www.jointassembly.ca/delegates/acc/cc/joint-assembly-declaration/index.html).

We regard the CORE as a valuable tool to help support communities in defining their own development goals and to ensure Indigenous Peoples in Canada and around the world are able to exercise their right to free, prior and informed consent.

It has now been more than a full year since the CORE was announced and there is still no ombudsperson in place. The need to uphold rights is urgent. We urge you to act promptly to fulfill this promise.

It is the ongoing prayer of our churches that we would have the humility and discipline to use the earth’s resources wisely and responsibly.

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Susan C. Johnson
National Bishop,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald
National Anglican Indigenous Bishop, Anglican Church of Canada

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
Primate, Anglican Church of Canada

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Statement of Support for Indigenous Rights and Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples

Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) National Bishop Susan C. Johnson has written a letter to the church reaffirming the church’s support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right to free, prior and informed consent.

A pdf of the letter can be found here. The text of the letter follows:


Dear friends in Christ,

On behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), I wish to reaffirm our church’s support for the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples, including the right to free, prior and informed consent.

In 2015, the ELCIC National Convention repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery and committed to walking with Indigenous peoples in their ongoing efforts to exercise their inherent sovereignty and fundamental human rights. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) identified the UN Declaration as the framework for reconciliation in Canada.

Recent events on Wet’suwet’en land, including the arrests at the Gitdimt’en checkpoint on January 7, 2019, remind us of the ongoing need for reconciliation and for a true nation-to-nation relationship. Court injunctions and police enforcement should not be used as alternatives to the commitment, patience, good-will and true consultation that is required in order to ensure that free, prior and informed consent is achieved.

Senator Justice Murray Sinclair, former Chair of the TRC, has said that, “because it took us so many generations to get to this point, it is going to take us at least a few generations to be able to say that we are making progress.” As members of the ELCIC, we admit that we have much to learn and we are committed to a long journey. We can begin by seeking new paths for discerning together how to live on the land wisely and how to use resources responsibly. We give thanks for the voices that remind us of the spiritual significance of our relationships with the land and with each other.

I invite you to join me in this ongoing prayer:

Creator: teach, guide and lead us on the path to reconciliation. Strengthen our conviction to uphold all rights of Indigenous peoples. Fill us with patience, respect, understanding and hope as we engage our neighbours and seek to discern how to live faithfully together and in healthy relationship with the earth. Open our eyes to the ways of peace. Amen.

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Susan C. Johnson

National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

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Daily Devotions for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – 2019

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) in partnership in ministry with the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC), Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and The Episcopal Church (TEC) have prepared a liturgical resource for the annual ecumenical celebration of The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, observed January 18-25.

The Daily Devotions for The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity invites Christians to reflect together on a biblical theme based on the words of the Book of Deuteronomy: “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue.”

All of the devotions have been prepared by the four presiding bishops of each of the churches: ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson, ACC Archbishop Fred Hiltz, ELCA Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, and TEC Bishop Michael Curry.

The devotions can be found on the ELCIC website.

These devotions are available for use not only during The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, but also throughout the year.

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