Upcoming Reformation service highlights busy year for Montreal Ministry Area

In commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation dating back to October 31, 1517, the congregations of the Montreal Ministry Area of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada have teamed up and extended their efforts to help educate, fundraise, and build community surrounding the theme of the commemoration of the Reformation.

These upcoming events are by no means anything new for many of the congregations in Montreal, as this past year has already been highlighted by countless activities and gatherings in preparation for the upcoming anniversary.

Under the auspices of the Montreal Lutheran Council – which represents the Montreal Ministry Area – a Reformation 2017 fund was established to collect direct donations from various parishes as money to use for the 2017 events. These activities highlighted Lutherans and the Lutheran teachings and practices to those in the community unfamiliar with such things.

Over the course of the 2017 calendar year, four major Reformation-focused events took place in Montreal, with four more planned dates to come. These events served as a way to create awareness of the coming anniversary, as well as an interactive chance to provide insights and education to those yearning for more information on the history and significance that the year 2017 holds.

On Transfiguration Sunday, February 26, the members of St. John’s gathered to acknowledge the upcoming anniversary of the 95 Theses and to discuss plans for the upcoming year. Throughout the following months, various study groups formed in the Montreal congregations as a way to look closer at the set themes of the Reformation 500 celebrations. In using the study guides prepared by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), St. John’s held Lenten study groups exploring each of the three sub-themes the LWF and ELCIC have been lifting up leading up to the anniversary: Liberated by God’s Grace, Salvation – Not for Sale, Creation – Not for Sale, Human Beings – Not for Sale.

The first major educational event of the year focused on northern environmental issues and Inuit peoples. This event – held mid-March – featured a conference in conjunction with Concordia University College and Layola College for Diversity and Sustainability.

Another joint education event also took place as the Reformation and the City conference rolled into Montreal in early May. This conference featured the theology departments of McGill and Concordia Universities, and provided an invitation to observe keynote presenters and topics relating the reformation issues to life in the 21st century.

A fund-raising concert, highlighted by Juno award-winning folk singer, Connie Kaldor also took place in early May at St. Barnabas Anglican Church. The collected funds went towards the ELCIC Reformation Challenge.

Coming up on Saturday, October 21st, at Très-St-Nom-de-Jesus Roman Catholic Church, Maestro Kent Nagano of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra will be the honorary patron of a concert of reformation music with musician from the orchestra and Montreal’s top choral singers.  The evening is a “Hommage à Luther” and features as a highlight J.S. Bach’s Reformaiton Cantate “Ein Feste Burg.” Honoured guest is the Roman Catholic Archbisihop of Montreal.  This event focusing on Luther and music works of faith over the centuries will be free to the public, but supporter tickets are also available. Proceeds will go towards concert expenses and the Reformation Challenge.

On Reformation Sunday, October 29, St. John’s will be hosting a festive Reformation liturgy featuring guest preacher, Bishop Thomas Dowd of the Roman Archdiocese in Montreal at 11:00 A.M. downtown. An open house will follow the liturgy.

Although the 500th anniversary of the Reformation will already have passed, Saturday, November 18th will also be a special day at St. John’s Lutheran Church. Eastern Synod Bishop Michael Pryse and Roman Archdiocese Christine Lapine will co-host, “From Conflict to Communion: Together in Hope”, a celebration of prayer service.

Finally, on Saturday, December 9, a Reformation concert featuring works from the Lutheran and Roman traditions will be held at Salle Claude Champagne in the Université de Montreal Concert Hall. Mendelssohn’s “Reformation Symphony” will be juxtaposed with Messiaen’s “Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum”, as conducted by Kent Nagano.

More information regarding the upcoming Reformation Commemoration and related activities/events in the Montreal Ministry Area can be found at www.reformation500.quebec and http://www.saintjohnslutheranmontreal.org/events/.

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International Day for the Eradication of Poverty: October 17

A letter from Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) National Bishop Susan C. Johnson on this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

View the pdf version of the letter here: https://elcic.ca/From-the-Bishop/documents/IntlDayfortheEradicationofPovertyletter.pdf

Dear Friends in Christ,

On this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I invite you to pray for all those affected by poverty, raise awareness about the issues that contribute to poverty within our communities, and engage in initiatives that address these challenges. We also join churches around the world to lift up Churches Week of Action on Food 2017 from October 15 to 22 to pray, reflect and take action together, for food-justice across the globe.

The call to address issues of poverty has deep roots in the Christian faith, and is central to what it means to be a church In Mission for Others. For over 25 years, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) has supported putting a priority on policies and programs that provide for the basic needs of people.

The ELCIC supports the call for a Federal Anti-Poverty Plan to eradicate poverty and hunger for the 860,000 people in Canada who use food banks each month and the millions of others struggling to get by (dignityforall.ca/chew-on-this/). Successful anti-poverty strategies focus on those most in need, are comprehensive, uphold human rights, and involve leaders in community and governments.

In July 2017, delegates to the ELCIC National Convention affirmed That the ELCIC support the Basic Income Guarantee initiative. Providing a minimum level of income is one way of helping to ensure people have access to their basic human rights, including housing, water, health, life, liber y and security of person.

In 2013, in partnership with the Anglican Church of Canada, the ELCIC issued a Joint Assembly Declaration to address issues of Homeless and Affordable Housing, and Responsible Resource Extraction, including a call for renewed Federal funding, an integrated national collaborative strategy, and greater accountability on the part of provinces and municipalities in addressing underlying causes of homelessness and in providing opportunities for affordable housing.

The ELCIC also works in effective partnership with Canadian Lutheran World Relief to support refugees, promote food security, and challenge the causes and respond to the consequences of injustice and poverty.

In this season of thanksgiving and harvest, I am aware of the relative abundance I experience in my life and I am conscious of Gods ongoing call to seek reconciled relationships and a more just world. As we pray for the eradication of poverty, I give thanks for all the ways that you participate in Gods mission as empowered disciples and I pray for Gods blessing on all the ways you work to eradicate poverty.

Yours in Christ,

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

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Congregational initiative lifts up Season of Creation

From September 1 through to October 4, Christians around the world lift up the Season of Creation.

Congregations across the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada are invited consider how they might engage in worship that deepens their ties and connections to creation with a focus on renewing commitments to climate justice.

Lutheran Church of the Cross in Victoria, B.C. is responding to the call in a very unique way.

For congregational member, Don Storch, it was the back page of the July/August 2017 issue of Canada Lutheran that provided the inspiration to get involved. “It talked about how this liturgical emphasis on creation came about,” he says. “And as we were talking about this on the board of worship several months ago, one of our members, Lynn Jones – who is a weaver – said that she would be very happy to lead a workshop in dyeing fabric naturally.”

Not long after that initial meeting, 15 congregation members of all ages assembled on the front lawn of the church to learn about the fine art of Bengala dyeing.

“We dyed some prepared cloths and strung the fabric up on clotheslines to dry,” Storch says. “The material was very thin – somewhat like a cheesecloth. There were many pails of dye and everyone took turns putting the bits of fabric into the dye, squeezing it and kneading it until it turned to the right colour. It was then hung it up on the clotheslines to dry. The following week, the fabrics were hung in the church on display.”

Bengala dyes are natural earth pigments, and although most commonly used in Japan, this technique was first used in the Stone Age. Created from the soil and consisting of iron oxide minerals, Bengala is known as a ‘mud dye’. These dyes do not require a mordant or hot water to prepare. The only requirement is the ability to knead the natural dye into the selected fabric. And important feature of this dye process is that is non-detrimental to the environment and ecologically safe because the elements easily break down into the earth upon disposal.

“This was certainly a marvelous way to raise awareness of the Season of Creation,” Storch says, noting that the event drew interest from both new and long-time members. “We also had lots of dog walkers and other onlookers stopping by since we were out on the front lawn. They would casually walk up to us and ask what we were doing, how it worked, what is was for, and what it was like. It was a great chance to spread the creative mission of our church.”

The natural dyeing exhibit in the church is not the only way the Lutheran Church of the Cross has lifted up the 2017 Season of Creation.

“Recently we have actually changed the order of our service to reflect the emphasis on creation,” says Storch. The theme has also been emphasized sermons and children’s lessons. The congregation intends to display the fabric until Reformation Sunday, “which will remind our members of the Season of Creation on each and every day leading up to the Reformation.”

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2018 Companion of the Worship Arts Call for Nominations

Do you know someone that contributes substantially to the worship life of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)? Do they give of their time and talents locally, synodically and nationally?

On behalf of ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson, the Program Committee for Worship (PCW) is now accepting nominations for the Companion of the Worship Arts Award. This honour is conferred upon a recipient biennially, highlighting the individual’s ongoing work and service within worship life of the ELCIC. The distinction recognizes the recipient’s ongoing inspiration and encouragement to others, together with service to God through worship, spirituality, and the arts.

The award will be presented to the at the National Worship Conference in Victoria, B.C. in 2018. (www.nationalworshipconference.org). Current PCW members are not eligible for nomination.

Submit your nomination today!

Please include these supporting materials with your nomination:

1. Reasons for the nomination; i.e., biographical material with a listing of the person’s specific contributions to the worship life of the ELCIC (examples should include national, synodical, and local involvements).

2. An indication, with examples, of the ways the person continues to inspire and encourage others in the worship life of the church.

3. A minimum of three letters of support for the nomination from others familiar with the individual’s contributions.

Send nomination materials in by February 15th, 2018 to:

Kathryn Smith
8 Jodi Place
Guelph, ON N1H 7R1

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ELCIC Annual Report now available

Did you know the ELCIC produces an Annual Report?

The 2016 annual report for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) is now available.

Read stories about our work as a church and how we respond together to the call to be a church In Mission for Others.

Copies of the publication are available online and in print. Individuals and congregations wishing to order print copies of the publication can request from the National Office (info@elcic.ca). There is no cost to order copies of this publication.

A PDF version is available online: https://elcic.ca/About-the-ELCIC/Overview.cfm

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Blessing of seeds and trees

New Dundee ELCIC congregation’s unique worship service and focus on creation enables them to surpass Reformation Challenge tree planting goals

It began as a typical Sunday morning service on the outskirts of Kitchener/Waterloo in early spring of 2017, until the tractors rolled in& As a component of the ELCIC Reformation Challenge, Rev. Bonnie Schelter-Brown, pastor of St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church in New Dundee, Ontario, led the gathered members of the Eastern Synod congregation in a very unique service that morning.

"So, we held what we called a Blessing of the Seed and Tree service that Sunday," Schelter-Brown explained. "We invited people to drive their tractors to church that day while we provided a short blessing of those tractors. We also blessed some marigold seeds and handed them out to everyone that came. We basically spent the whole day focusing on creation, by affirming and honouring that part of our community."

After the pre-service blessings, those in attendance at St. James were treated to a Reformation-themed message from a familiar face.

"We also had a guest speaker at that service," Schelter-Brown reflected. "It was actually Jesse Sop, one of our former youth-turned young adults who had planted trees up north and in B.C. for a couple of summers. He gave us a great idea of what it was like to plant trees for the summer and the amount of hard work that it took. And after that service we actually went out ourselves and planted roughly 100 trees on the grounds of one of our parishioners."

Schelter-Brown and her congregation of twelve years were not done there.

"Every May 24th there is a big celebration in town," Schelter-Brown said. "Typically, we have a garage sale during the day and fireworks during the night. This year we assembled a float on a pickup truck for the lunchtime parade; as well as having a big sign, we walked in the parade and handed out trees to people to plant. Along with the trees were little notes explaining what we were doing, why we were doing it, and a piece of encouragement for the recipients in hopes that they would indeed plant the trees."

Although the church of St. James only sees a weekly average attendance of roughly 52, the rural congregation has been able to deliver on its promises. Already surpassing their total number of pledged trees, Schelter-Brown and her church hope to continue with their support of the ELCIC’s Reformation Challenge again as the congregation reconvenes after the summer.

"I would call New Dundee an incredible congregation with incredible people, who always seem to step up," Schelter-Brown said."I offered this Reformation Challenge idea to them, and they picked up the tree planting aspect and have already surpassed their goals. We are certainly not done with our challenge yet we have even had a suggestion to look outside the box and consider planting some trees in Fort McMurray. We definitely plan to revisit our goals in the fall, and as the reformation anniversary comes up again I will be reminding the congregation again of the other options out there. Whether its trees or not, I have the utmost confidence that this group will be able to deliver again, if we do go that route."

Find out more about the ELCIC Reformation Challegne here: www.elcic.ca/ReformationChallenge

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Convention closes with a message of liberation

The Right Rev. Jordan Cantwell, moderator of the United Church of Canada, issued an invitation to the fullness of life that the Gospel offers in her sermon at the closing service of the 16th Biennial National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

In her message to convention delegates, she observed that this invitation involves relinquishing status and power that actually holds us captive to that which is not gospel. “And when we let it go, we discover the life that God intends for us,” she said.

“A message of liberation is only received as good news by those who know themselves to be in need of liberation,” she explained.  “It is only those who recognize their own captivity who embrace a message of liberation as a good thing.”

Action needs to be rooted in love

Cantwell spoke about her own experiences of trying to do something about injustice being done to others and explained how easily one experiences anger and hatred. “The kind of anger that just wants to tear people down, and the kind of hatred that just wants to destroy is not the right footing for justice,” she said.

She shared that a lesson that has taken her most of her life to learn is, “The only place from which to work for justice, and the only place from which anything good could be birthed was a place of love. Action needs to be rooted in love.”

Her message gave fresh insight to the theme Liberated by God’s Grace at a convention where action was taken to engage ELCIC members and congregations “in developing respectful, meaningful and mutual relationships with Muslims;” to “learn, pray, connect and act” through a new resource Encouraging People of Other Fiaths – Interfaith Guidelines;” and to be a church In Mission for Others.

View the recording of the Closing Worship service and Rt. Rev. Jordan Cantwell’s message here: https://youtu.be/vrnCRTCddfc


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:
Trina Gallop Blank, Director of Communications
600-177 Lombard Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 0W5

Subscribe or unsubscribe to ELCIC Information by emailing info@elcic.ca with a short message.

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Convention delegates challenged to offer safe spaces in their communities; be engaged in the 94 calls to action of the TRC

On the Saturday morning of the 2017 ELCIC National Convention, delegates welcomed Kaila Johnston, research coordinator for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR).

The NCTR opened in the summer of 2015 and was created to preserve the memory of Canada’s Residential School system and legacy. The NCTR is the permanent home for all statements, documents and other materials gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).

“I’ve seen first-hand the effects of the colonial system of oppression, and I have felt it as well,” said Johnston whose presentation focused on the history of Residential School systems, the TRC, the NTRC, as well as the long path forward striving for reconciliation.

“In an underfunded, under-supervised system, there was little protection for children,” she said. “Overall, residential schools often amounted to a system of institutionalized child neglect.”

TRC one of five components of Indian Residential School Agreement

In 2006, negotiations were approved between the legal advisors for survivors, the churches, The Assembly of First Nations, the Government of Canada, and other organizations to implement the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement.

“It was formed as a fair, comprehensive and lasting resolution to the legacy of Indian Residential Schools, as well as to promote, healing, education, commemoration, truth, and reconciliation,” said Johnston.

The establishment of the TRC in June of 2008, was one of the five major components to the Indian Residential School Agreement. It was founded as a holistic, comprehensive response to the Indian Residential Schools.

NCTR opens its doors

Following a lengthy review process, the TRC awarded custodianship of its archives to the University of Manitoba. The NCTR is the final home for all statements, documents and materials gathered during its six-year mandate of the TRC.

Johnston quoted George Rasmus, who said, “if the stories of our people are not accessible to the general public, it will be as if their experiences never occurred. And if their voices are rendered as museum pieces, it will be as if their experiences are frozen in time. What we need are open, dynamic and interactive spaces, and participatory forms of narrative knowledge and research.” This is a very good representation of the NCTR, she said.

Offering safe spaces

The concept of reconciliation means many different things to many different people, communities, institutions and organizations, said Johnston.

How do we define respectful relationships, she asked? “It includes safety, encouragement, honestly, trust, caring, the freedom to be yourself, listening and valuing opinions. Everyone has the right to feel safe, to be treated with fairness, to be valued and feel accepted for who they are.”

Johnston asked the convention audience to consider how their communities could offer safe spaces for Indigenous peoples to come together to begin this process of reconciliation.

“Reconciliation is both a process and a goal,” she said. “There is no finish line to cross at the end of the day where we can all stand up and say reconciliation has been achieved. It will continue to go long after this conversation has ended.”

What can I do

Johnston explained that she is frequently asked what can people do to be involved in reconciliation. “These [94 calls to action] are for all Canadians, not just for people at Provincial, Territorial or Federal government levels,” she responded.

Johnston listed several actions of reconciliation, including: “Learn the history of Indigenous and nonindigenous peoples, understand the history and legacy of Residential schools, explore the unique intersections between treaty, constitutional Indigenous and human rights, recognize the rich contributions Indigenous peoples have had to this country, take action to address historical injustices and present day wrongs, as well as teach others.”

View the full recording of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation presentation to the 2017 ELCIC National Convention: https://youtu.be/JZop5pK15vE


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:
Trina Gallop Blank, Director of Communications
600-177 Lombard Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 0W5

Subscribe or unsubscribe to ELCIC Information by emailing info@elcic.ca with a short message.

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ELCIC commemorates 500th anniversary; National Reformation Commemoration worship service ecumenical and outward looking

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

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Report of the National Bishop to Convention forward looking

“We are not just a church and a communion that looks back to the events of our founding, we are a church that God is calling into a challenging and uncertain future, but with the promise that God’s hand is leading us and God’s spirit is guiding us,” said Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) National Bishop Susan C. Johnson in her report to delegates at the ELCIC’s 16th Biennial National Convention.

Bishop Johnson’s report on Thursday, July 6 featured highlights and updates from the past biennium, as well as reflections on the ELCIC’s emphasis on the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) theme adopted for the reformation, Liberated by God’s Grace, which the ELCIC has also used as its theme.

The ELCIC’s National Office strategic priorities formed the framework for the Bishop’s report. The National Office lives out the call to be a church In Mission for Others through four areas of focus identified by the ELCIC’s National Church Council and affirmed at the 2013 National Convention. These areas include: Spirited Discipleship, Compassionate Justice, Healthy Church and Effective Partnerships.

“This has been a time for us to realize that we have come of age as a church,” said Johnson. “We are not just a church and a communion that looks back to the events of our founding, we are a church that God is calling into a challenging and uncertain future, but with the promise that God’s hand is leading us and God’s spirit is guiding us.”

Johnson lifted up some of the major commitments the ELCIC continues to work on, including: reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, care for creation, peace in the Holy Land, homelessness and affordable housing, and responsible resource extraction.

Partnerships were a theme throughout Johnson’s report. “I know that I do not work alone, but rather I am part of a team of leadership across our church and with our partners,” she said. “For that shared leadership and collegial support, I give thanks to God.”

Johnson concluded her report by quoting Romans 5:5 and reflecting on her last 10 years as National Bishop. “Hope does not disappoint us,” she said. “I’ve learned this from being involved in The Lutheran World Federation and realizing we are not a small church! We are a medium size church… We are Liberated by God’s grace. We are blessed with a hope in Jesus Christ that will not disappoint us. We are being strengthened to meet the challenges ahead. We are called to be people of faith for people in need… we are a church In Mission for Others.”

The report of the National Bishop was received with a standing ovation by convention delegates.

A video of the Bishop’s Report to Convention is available online: https://youtu.be/2SsdSKRZcNM

Information and highlights from the ELCIC’s 16th Biennial National Convention are available online: www.elcic.ca/In-Convention/2017-Winnipeg

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:
Trina Gallop Blank, Director of Communications
600-177 Lombard Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 0W5

Subscribe or unsubscribe to ELCIC Information by emailing info@elcic.ca with a short message.

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