Highlights From the Third Day of NCC Meetings

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)’s National Church Council (NCC) met in Winnipeg from March 5-8. The council included an extra day during their spring meeting to allow time on the agenda to focus on visioning and strategic development.

Friday’s meeting commenced at 9:00 a.m. with Opening Devotions led by Tom Brooks.

Throughout the morning, NCC members continued their discussions and work on discerning the vision and strategic direction for the national expression of the ELCIC. Upon reconvening after the lunch break, council moved into the business session of their meeting.

Council heard the Report of the National Bishop who shared an overview of the work she has been involved in since coming to the National Office last September. In the report, Bishop Johnson noted, "the last few months have consisted of a plethora of transitions," and joked that the only thing that has stayed the same is her email address. A significant part of Bishop Johnson’s time has been invested in strengthening relationships with the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, as well as spending time in each of the ELCIC synods.

From the Report of the National Bishop, the following motions were brought forward to council for consideration: A motion was approved to designate one Sunday a year as Mission in the World Sunday; Bishop Cindy Halmarson was appointed to serve on the Lutheran World Federation North America Regional Committee (replacing a position that was previously served by Bishop Johnson which became vacant when she was elected bishop); Updates were approved to the Church Extension Capital Fund (CECF) Handbook; and Council approved the theme of the 2009 National Convention – In Mission for Others: Signs of Hope, Bishop Johnson explained that the theme was based on Scripture verses Romans 15:13 and Matthew 5:14-16.

Council received a report from the ELCIC National Officers meeting that took place in January. In the report, the National Officers recommended that NCC review motion NC-07-34 concerning a referral to Faith, Order and Doctrine (FOD). It was noted that proceeding with the motion and referring it to FOD may complicate the work currently untaken by the Human Sexuality Task Force. A motion made to rescind motion NC-07-34 was carried unopposed.

Two nominations where presented to fill a position on council which became vacant following the resignation of Bob Schmidt. By ballot process, Barb Stolee was elected to fill the remaining term.

Gloria McNabb, ELCIC Director of Finance and Administration, presented the Finance Report. Council reviewed a revised operating budget for 2008 and the unaudited financial results for 2007. Both documents were approved. Ken Hartviksen, ELCIC Treasurer, presented the report of the Finance Committee. This committee advises NCC regarding policies that it should consider and presented financial policy recommendations to address issues either not covered by existing policies, or where existing policies were deemed dated or no longer effective.

Council heard reports from the five ELCIC Synod Bishops. The Bishop’s share highlights and concerns for their respective synods with council for the purpose of framing the council’s environmental scan. Visioning and mission initiatives are a focus in many synods. Several Bishops reported new mission congregations within their synods. Concerns about the need to find new models of leadership within congregations and providing care and support to congregations experiencing declining memberships were also shared. Bishop Johnson noted that she was, "encouraged by the signs of hope that were evident in the Synod reports, amidst the signs of challenges," and commended the Synod Bishop’s for the, "signs of creativity," they are displaying within their work in the Synods.

Hildy Thiessen, Executive Director, and John Wolff, Board Chair, for ELCIC’s Group Services Inc. (GSI) joined the NCC meeting.

At the September NCC meeting, a request was brought forward from GSI to identify whether there might be financial resources available to further assist with GSI’s work on addressing the pension plan solvency liability. NCC deferred the motion until an actuarial evaluation could be completed, which was done in the time period between the September and March meeting. Through an e-meeting of NCC, council approved $550,000 from the Employee Benefits Reserve Fund be transferred to GSI in support of the Pension Plan’s Retired Benefit Account solvency deficiency. Typically, pension regulators require payment strategies to be within a five-year horizon as predictions beyond five years tend to be less reliable. Due to a number of circumstances, the pension regulator responsible for GSI’s pension plan had not enforced this requirement until 2007. Recent legislation now allows an organization to use a Letter of Credit as a guarantee for the required contributions and to meet the criteria for the five-year funding period. NCC discussed and approved the securing of a Letter of Credit in the amount of $5,000,000 to provide additional security required by the pension regulators. It was noted that this is not an actual cash deposit to the pension plan but rather a "security backed up by assets," allowing GSI to meet the regulatory requirements.

Wolff noted that at the end of 2007, the pension deficit had been reduced to $9.6 million. This total was a decrease from the previous figure of $10.5 million that Wolff estimated at the September 2007 meeting of NCC. GSI estimates the pension deficit will be eliminated in eight years; in 2004, when the strategy was first put in place, it was estimated that this would take 15 years to address. "We have made significant progress," said Wolff, who thanked NCC for being so supportive. Wolff noted that through the assistance of the National Church, GSI has, "secured some pretty good guarantees for pensioners," adding that it is GSI’s utmost priority to ensure they meet their commitment to ELCIC retirees and pension holders.

The final agenda for Friday was the review of several pieces of correspondence to NCC. Council reviewed a letter to the National Bishop from the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission in which they encouraged the ELCIC’s National Bishop and the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada to enter into discussions about the possibility of shared National Office space. Council approved a motion for the National Bishop to begin this discussion with ACC but noted that in light of the recent five-year renewal on the ELCIC’s current office space in Winnipeg, the discussions would be focused on a long-term strategy.

The session adjourned for the evening with closing prayers. Saturday’s session will be the final day of meetings and will commence at 9:00 a.m.

Photo highlights from the meeting are available on the NCC page of the ELCIC website: https://elcic.ca/National-Church-Council/default.cfm

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 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, Manager of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

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Highlights From the Second Day of NCC Meetings

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)’s National Church Council (NCC) is meeting in Winnipeg from March 5-8. The council is meeting for an extra day during their spring meeting to include time for focusing on visioning and strategic development.

On Thursday, council began their session at 9:00 a.m. with Opening Devotions by Tom Brook. ELCIC Secretary Don Storch and council member Roger Haugen facilitated a discussion on the ELCIC’s Constitution, Bylaws and Governance. Jeff Pym is facilitating the visioning portion of the meeting and had council members spending various parts of the day working individually and in groups.

The session adjourned for the evening with closing prayers. Friday’s session will commence at 9:00 a.m. and will continue the discussion on visioning. The business portion of the meeting will begin Friday after the lunch break.

Photo highlights from the meeting are available on the NCC page of the ELCIC website: https://elcic.ca/National-Church-Council/default.cfm

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 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, Manager of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

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

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Highlights From the First Day of NCC Meetings

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)’s National Church Council (NCC) is meeting in Winnipeg from March 5-8. The council is meeting for an extra day during their spring meeting to include time for focusing on visioning and strategic development.

The March meeting of NCC commenced with Opening Worship Service at 3:00 p.m. at Laureate’s Landing in Winnipeg, Manitoba. ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson delivered the sermon during the service. A copy of the sermon is available on the Bishop’s page of the ELCIC website: https://elcic.ca/From-the-Bishop/default.cfm

As part of the visioning session on Wednesday evening, NCC members spent time in Bible study. As well, a presentation consisting of an environmental scan on demographics and current trends in giving was presented by ELCIC Treasurer Ken Hartviksen.

The session adjourned for the evening at 9:00 p.m. with closing prayers. Thursday’s session will commence at 9:00 a.m. and will continue the discussion on visioning. The business portion of the meeting will begin Friday after the lunch break.

Photo highlights from the meeting are available on the NCC page of the ELCIC website: https://elcic.ca/National-Church-Council/default.cfm

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 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, Manager of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

Subscribe or unsubscribe to ELCIC Information by emailing info@elcic.ca with a short message.replace this text with your own content and images and press submit.

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ELCIC National Bishop and ACC Primate Urge Canadian Government to Address Homeless in Canada; Congregations and Members Called on to Advocate for Affordable Housing Solutions

The Anglican Primate and the Evangelical Lutheran National Bishop call on the members of their respective churches to advocate for affordable housing solutions for the homeless with letters and visits to their Members of Parliament.

In a letter sent to the Minister of Human Resources and Development Canada, Monte Solberg, on Feb 27, 2008, the leaders urged the government “to address homelessness in Canada as part of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.”

The letter follows the tabling of the federal budget which left the estimated 150,000 to 300,000 homeless people in Canada out in the cold and another 1.5 million Canadians in desperate housing need without relief.

The joint Anglican-Lutheran initiative takes inspiration from the prophet Isaiah who asks what true religious observance is: “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house?” (Isaiah 58:7).

“Our vision,” the leaders’ letter concludes, “is to go beyond the prophet’s call, to create a society where the hungry are able to eat their own bread, and the homeless poor are brought into their own house.”

“Being in full communion means more than worshipping together,” says Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the Anglican Primate. “Members of both our churches give generously of their time and money to help people who are homeless. They run thrift shops, food banks, overnight shelters, and hospitality programs. But they know that charity isn’t enough. Advocating together for justice is also part of being in full communion.”

“I’m excited by this initiative,” says ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson. “It demonstrates how working together in full communion we can make a much larger impact and a stronger witness, hopefully inspiring our government to address the realities of homelessness in Canada.”

The joint initiative is modelled after a campaign of the diocese of Toronto encouraging Anglicans to visit their local MPs to express concerns about housing and poverty.

Hiltz and Johnson are inviting Lutherans and Anglicans to write or visit their federal MP, and where possible, to do this jointly. The purpose is to ask the Government of Canada to:
Renew and increase the affordable housing funding which is set to expire at the end of 2008
Join with the provinces to develop a comprehensive housing strategy as part of an overall national poverty reduction strategy

On line resources are available at www.elcic.ca/ghda to help people participate in this initiative:
“Bringing people who are homeless into their own house” – a resource that explains this initiative and gives tips for writing and visiting with your MP.
A bulletin insert for use in church bulletins, encouraging congregations and parishes to become involved.
A copy of the joint letter from The Most Reverend Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and The Reverend Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, Monte Solberg.

To read a full version of the joint letter, visit: https://elcic.ca/GHDA/documents/LetterSolberg.pdf

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 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, Manager of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

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

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ELCIC Seeks Two Representatives for KAIROS Program Committees

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) is looking to appoint two people to serve as ELCIC representatives on KAIROS’ program committees. KAIROS is an ecumenical coalition consisting of 11 churches and church related organization which work together in the area of advocacy and justice education (www.kairoscanada.org).

There are currently two opportunities available:

ELCIC Representative for KAIROS Canadian Social Development Committee: The first position is for an ELCIC representative on the KAIROS Canadian Social Development Committee. This committee assists KAIROS in addressing social policy and poverty in Canada. Knowledge of Canadian social policy, particularly poverty and/or refugee and migrant issues; knowledge of churches in Canada; and familiarity with Christian theology and liturgy are assets which will be of value in this position.
ELCIC Representative for KAIROS Global Partners and Education Committee: The second position is for an ELCIC representative on the KAIROS Global Partnership and Education Committee. This committee oversees and assists KAIROS in its work with its Global partners and KAIROS’ Contribution Agreement with CIDA. Some background and experience in working with partners from the South; Background in human rights and conflict or economic justice issues; Familiarity with CIDA; Regional expertise in either Asia, Latin America, Africa or Middle East are assets which will be of value in this position.

Both of these positions require attendance at two meetings per year (usually held in Toronto), ongoing communication with and reporting to the ELCIC National Office, and assisting the ELCIC in addressing policy in these areas. These appointments are for a three year renewable term. These are volunteer positions for which expenses occurred will be covered by the ELCIC.

If you are interested, please contact and/or send a short bio or resume to:

Rev. Ryan Andersen
Assistant to the Bishop for Stewardship in Public Life
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)
Email: randersen@elcic.ca
Phone: 1-888-786-6707 x153.

To view a pdf version of the above opportunities, visit: https://elcic.ca/Leadership/Employment-Opportunities/documents/CIDACSDApptDescription.pdf

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 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, Manager of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

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

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Teresita Valeriano Named LWF Regional Officer for North America

""""The Rev. Teresita "Tita" C. Valeriano was appointed regional officer for the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in North America, effective March 1. Valeriano, 42, Lutheran campus pastor at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, since 2004, is an ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

"I believe that we are in an exciting but also challenging time in our life together as a communion as we address poverty, war, human rights, theology and mission. I am looking forward to
serving the North American member churches (of the LWF) with joy, humility, creativity and audacity," Valeriano said.

"I love to meet people from different cultures, and I try to maintain my international network of friends while building a community wherever I live," she said.

The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947, the LWF has 140 member churches in 78 countries representing 66.7 million of the more than 70 million Lutherans worldwide. The LWF, based in Geneva, maintains its North America regional office at the ELCA churchwide office. The North America regional office serves all the member churches in the region, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

From 2000 to 2004 Valeriano served in Geneva as executive secretary for youth (18-30 years old) with the LWF Church and Society Desk.

"Teresita has a background that makes her very well prepared for this position," said the Rev. Kjell Nordstokke, director, LWF Department for Mission and Development. "This has given her a broad and solid knowledge of the Lutheran communion in its variety of contexts and traditions all around the world. As youth secretary one of her main tasks was the inclusion of young people in the life and the mission of the church. Her later experience as campus chaplain in California has certainly affirmed her capacity of opening space for youth and young adults in the church," he said.

Valeriano "brings with her real gifts, including in-depth knowledge of the LWF through her years on staff in Geneva, and a solid commitment to life together within the North America Region," said the Rev. Paul Johnson, ELCIC’s Assistant to the Bishop for Ecumenical Relations.

Born in Malabon, Philippines, Valeriano holds two bachelor’s degrees — a bachelor of science in business administration from the University of the East, Manila, Philippines (1985) and a bachelor’s degree in church music from the Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music, Quezon, Philippines (1994).

Valeriano earned a master of divinity degree at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, Calif., one of eight ELCA seminaries. Ordained in 1998, she was pastor of First Lutheran Church, Tulare, Calif., before joining the LWF staff in Geneva. She has served in multicultural and international settings.

In her new role, Valeriano will serve as a member of the LWF Department for Mission and Development staff. She will be responsible for coordinating work among member churches in North America, facilitating LWF activities in the region, and sharing information among the ELCIC, the ELCA and the LWF.

Valeriano succeeds Kathy J. Magnus, who retired in December 2007 after serving as LWF North America Regional Officer since 2001.

Information about the LWF Regional Office for North America is at http://www.elca.org/lwf/.

– with files from ELCA News

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 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, Manager of Communications
302-393 Portage Ave. Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6
204.984.9172
tgallop@elcic.ca

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

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Global Increase in LWF Churches’ Membership Pushes Total to Over 68.3 Million

Africa’s Lutheran churches saw their total membership increase over the past year by just under two million, boosting the total membership of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches worldwide to over 68.3 million. Lutheran churches in Asia registered an increase overall, while slight decreases were again recorded in other world regions.

According to the latest LWF statistics, membership in the organization’s 140 churches, 10 recognized congregations, and one recognized council in 78 countries worldwide rose by a total of 1,640,700, to reach 68,322,299, an increase of 2.5 percent over the previous year. In 2006, LWF member churches had some 66.7 million members worldwide, up from 66.2 million in 2005.

Over the past year, the total membership of all Lutheran churches worldwide rose by 1,623,024 to approximately 71.8 million (71,823,423), an increase of 2.3 percent. In 2006, all Lutheran churches  worldwide counted some 70.2 million members, up from 69.8 million in 2005. The number of Lutherans in non-LWF member churches fell by 17,676, or 0.5 percent, to reach 3,501,124.

Ethiopia Has World’s Second Largest Lutheran Church

Over the past year, LWF church membership in Africa rose by 1,926,407 or 12.7 percent to reach a total of 17,129,230. The membership of non-LWF Lutheran churches in Africa remained unchanged at 56,069.

With an increase of 368,861 members, or 8.2 percent, to 4,869,157, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, the largest LWF member church on the continent, now becomes the second largest worldwide. The Church of Sweden remains the world’s biggest Lutheran church with 6.9 million members.

Among African churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, the continent’s second largest Lutheran church, recorded the highest membership increase—32.4 percent—with an additional 1,132,480 new members to reach a total of 4,632,480, making it the fourth largest Lutheran church in the world. The ELCT attributes its growth to “effective evangelism in [its] dioceses over the past two years … and a realistic authentication of statistics.” The Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria saw its membership rise by 380,630, or 27.9 percent, to 1,745,050. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana also grew a substantial 25.1 percent, with membership up 5,521 to reach 27,521. Membership in the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church was up by 8,000, or 22.2 percent, to 44,000. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi reported members, for an increase of 10,000 or 20 percent.

Other churches on the continent recording an over 10 percent increase included the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Angola, Kenya and Cameroon.

While no statistical changes were reported by the 3-million member Malagasy Lutheran Church, the third largest Lutheran church in Africa, a 12.4 percent decrease in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mozambique put its total at 6,482.

Asia: Over 100,000 New Members

The total number of Lutherans in Asia rose 101,439 in 2007, an increase of 1.22 percent. Of a total 8,415,776 Lutherans in Asia, 8,275,418 belonged to LWF member churches, which corresponds to a 1.24 percent increase or 101,258 members.

Membership in Asia’s largest Lutheran church, the Protestant Christian Batak Church (Indonesia) remained steady at 3.75 million.

In terms of absolute figures, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea registered the highest growth in the region with 85,000 new members or 10.4 percent increase, to count 900,000
members. The United Protestant Church (Indonesia) recorded 1,150 additional members, or 11.5 percent, to reach 11,150. A more than 6 percent increase was recorded by the Bangladesh Lutheran Church and the Simalungun Protestant Christian Church (Indonesia).

Decreases were registered by the Lutheran Church in Singapore, Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church (India) and the Hong Kong and Macau Lutheran Church.

Europe: Membership Nearly 300,000 Down

Over the past year, the total membership of Lutheran churches in Europe fell again by 292,117, or 0.78 percent, to reach 37,177,468. Membership in LWF member churches went down by 292,031, also 0.78 percent, to 37,137,374.

Membership in the world’s largest Lutheran church, the Church of Sweden, remained nearly unchanged over the course of 2007, with a slight drop of 0.03 percent to reach 6,893,901. The fifth largest LWF member church worldwide, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, saw its membership drop by 22,983, or 0.5 percent, to 4,533,629. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, the sixth largest LWF member church, recorded a decrease of 13,274, or 0.3 percent, to 4,493,168. The Church of Norway had 67,531 fewer members, or 1.71 percent, to reach 3,871,513.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia recorded a 25 percent membership increase or 3,000 new members to reach 15,000, while the Lutheran Church in Great Britain grew by 18.6
percent (440 members) to 2,810. The Evangelical Lutheran Church – Synod of France and Belgium, a non-LWF church, recorded the highest percentage increase in Europe by a two-thirds’ rise (400 members) to 1,000. The Protestant Church of the Augsburg Confession of Alsace and Lorraine (France) increased by 10,000 members, or 4.8 percent, to 220,000.

With 2,330 fewer members, the Lutheran Church in Ireland, an LWF recognized congregation, recorded the highest percentage of membership loss—75 percent—to reach 770. The Evangelical
Lutheran Church in Hungary recorded a significant decrease of 30.1 percent due to a change in the method used to count its membership. It had 213,125 members, down 91,875 from the previous year.

German Churches Count 180,000 Fewer Members

In 2007 the total number of Lutheran Christians in Germany was 12,627,746, reflecting a decrease of 105,245, or 0.83 percent. Germany continues to be the country with the highest number of Lutheran Christians in the world. Lutheran churches there had 12.7 million members in 2006 and 12.9 million members in 2005. The number of Lutherans in LWF member churches there fell by 104,774, also 0.83 percent, to reach 12,590,247.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover, the country’s largest Lutheran church, recorded 3,023,897 members, for a decrease of 21,457, or 0.7 percent. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria reported 2.6 million members, reflecting a 1.5 percent decrease of 40,724. Membership in the Evangelical Church in Württemberg fell by 18,803, or 0.8 percent, to 2,304,062. A decrease of 0.5 percent or 10,645 fewer members in the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church put the total at 2,099,315.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony recorded 823,487 members, reflecting a decrease of 10,339 or 1.2 percent. A drop in membership was also recorded in the Evangelical Church of Pomerania, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Schaumburg-Lippe, and the Church of Lippe [Lutheran Section], as well as in the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church, a non-LWF church.

Slight membership increases were recorded in the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Thuringia and Mecklenburg, and in the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad.

Membership figures remained unchanged for the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Baden, Brunswick and Oldenburg, and in the non-LWF member Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Germany.

Slight Decrease in Latin America

The total membership in Lutheran churches in Latin America and the Caribbean fell last year by 14,053, or 1.26 percent to reach 1,104,194. A drop of 2.34 percent among LWF member churches in
the region put the total at 822,074. Non-LWF churches registered 5,633 new members, a 2 percent increase, to reach 282,120.

While most Lutheran churches in Latin America and the Caribbean reported little change in their membership statistics, the region’s largest Lutheran church, the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil, registered a 2.3 percent decrease or 16,756 members to reach 703,000. Declining membership was also reported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia and the Argentina-based Evangelical Church of the River Plate. The non-LWF Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil reported 230,215 members last year, a rise of 5,692, or 2.5 percent.

The LWF’s recognized congregations in Mexico and Peru noted major changes in their membership figures. Membership in the German-Speaking Evangelical Congregation in Mexico fell by four-fifths, 2,474 fewer members to reach 636, while a 45 percent drop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Peru pushed the total down by 180, to 220 members.

Nearly 100,000 Fewer Lutherans in North America

Total membership in North American Lutheran churches fell by 98,652 or 1.23 percent in 2007. Of a total 7,940,686 Lutherans, 4,958,203 belonged to LWF member churches. The region’s LWF member churches registered a decrease of 75,248 members, or 1.49 percent.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the LWF’s third largest member church, recorded 4,774,203 members in 2007, a decrease of 76,573, or 1.6 percent. Membership in the Lithuanian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Diaspora (USA) remained unchanged at 1,500.

Decreases were also recorded in non-LWF churches—the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (USA and Canada), with 2,417,997 members, for a loss of 22,867 or 0.9 percent, and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, down by 1.2 percent, to 396,000.

The non-LWF Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (USA) registered a 10.3 percent increase (4,041) to 43,360 members.

Membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada remained relatively stable in 2007, falling by a mere 0.03 percent to count 174,500, while the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church
Abroad (Canada) recorded an increase of just under 21 percent, pushing the total to 8,000.

The LWF membership statistics are based on information received from the LWF member churches, recognized congregations and council, as well as from other Lutheran churches, organizations,
mission bodies and congregations. The figures recorded for the year ending 2007 were used for churches that did not indicate any changes by the end of January 2008.

* A one-page summary of the 2007 LWF membership figures is posted in PDF version on the LWF Web site under: www.lutheranworld.org/LWF_Documents/LWF-Statistics-01-2007.pdf.
* Full details can be found under: www.lutheranworld.org/LWF_Documents/LWF-Statistics-2007.pdf.

The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF currently has 140 member churches in 78 countries all over the world, with a total membership of over 68.3 million. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as ecumenical and interfaith relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission and development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.

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Communique Special – Lutheran Office for World Community Newsletter for Partners Provides Resources for Lent, Updates and News

E-Communique Special – – Lutheran Office for World Community, a joint ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran World Federation at the United Nations has prepared the following information for its partners.

News

Lenten Reflection Series – Subscribe to a 40-day reflection on our relationship with God’s creation via email This 40-day Lenten reflection series will offer a holistic approach to how we live as earthly companions, combining God’s caring relationship with creation to our journey in the physical universe. Each e-mail emphasizes individual and communal solutions, resources for further learning and suggestions for how to act or become more educated. This is a limited subscription; the first e-mail will arrive on Ash Wednesday and the last e-mail will arrive Easter Sunday. Subscribe to the ELCA’s daily 2008 environmental Lenten reflections at: www.elca.org/advocacy 

Peace Building Commission adopts framework for Sierra Leone – The United Nations Peace Building Commission and the government of Sierra Leone have adopted a framework that will set the pattern for the work of the United Nations advisory body. The priorities are: youth employment and empowerment, justice and security sector reform, consolidation of democracy and good governance, capacity-building and the energy sector. Civil Society is seen as a key stakeholder in the Peacebuilding process and capacity building. The PBC and the government have committed themselves to facilitate and support capacity-building for civil society, especially women’s and youth organizations to foster reconciliation and community-based socio-economic recovery. Civil Society will contribute to a semi-annual review process. The PBC was set up in 2006 to address post conflict peace building – all that is needed to help a country move from war to peace. The first countries in the program were Sierra Leone and Burundi. Guinea-Bissau is now considered the third country.
More about the PBC: http://www.un.org/peace/peacebuilding/questions.htm
A blog on the PBC: http://www.pbcupdate.org/ For more information you can email: Christian.Albers@elca.org

Ecumenical Women launch website; submit statement on financing for gender equality – Ecumenical Women, a coalition of churches and ecumenical organizations in dialogue with the UN, have launched a new website featuring a blog on current issues related to gender equality as well as worship, academic and advocacy. To prepare for the 52nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in 2008, the website has a focus on the theme financing for gender equality. Go to the website to read Ecumenical Women’s submission to the UN: “Justice for the poor and care for life and creation continue to be at the heart of the matter”. The statement lifts up the principles of the Beijing Platform for Action and connects gender justice to the six themes of the Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development.
The website: http://ecumenicalwomen.org
The statement: http://ecumenicalwomen.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/ecumenical-womenresubmitted-statement.pdf

LWF members urged to act on human rights, illegitimate debt and climate change – In his New Year’s Message for 2008, LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko cites human rights, illegitimate debt and protecting the earth as major challenges requiring churches’ reflection and action. The year 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “Let this not be an empty celebration,” says Noko, asking churches to insist on accountability and universal practical implementation for human rights. Noko highlights illegitimate debt as an additional obstacle to the full enjoyment of human rights, urging churches to seek new ways of ensuring that “economic relations between states are informed by ethical principles, and no longer result in debt bondage for generations of poor people.” To mitigate climate change, Noko urges the churches to “promote new ways of relating to and living within creation that better reflect in practice our theological understandings of communion”.
Read the full message: http://www.lutheranworld.org/News/LWI/EN/2150.EN.html

New Research and Reports

Climate change is focus for latest Human Development Report – While there has been some progress on development in recent years, it is threatened by climate change – especially among the poorest and most vulnerable populations and countries. Climate change affects agricultural production and water security, threatens public health and contributes to the collapsing of ecosystems, such as coral reefs. But according to the report it is not too late to forestall dangerous effects, if agreement can be reached to reduce 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels. The country with the highest carbon dioxide emissions is the United States (6,045.8 Mt CO2), followed by China (5,007.1) Russia (1,524.1), India (1,342.1) and Japan (1,257.2). The Human Development Report can be downloaded: http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2007-2008/

For God’s sake, do something! How religions can find unexpected unity around climate change – In this report published in conjunction with the Human Development Report, British sociologist and political scientist Roman Krznaric explores the common ground shared by the world’s major religions in their approaches to environmental issues, in particular climate change. While analyzing Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and indigenous cosmologies, Krznaric finds a general agreement on four key points: human-induced climate change is real and needs to be tackled now; the problem of climate change has partly resulted from human greed and a culture of over-consumption; by damaging the environment humans have sinned or acted immorally in the eyes of God or the cosmic order; and religious believers have a religious responsibility to take action. He asks for more collaboration on the common ground of the claim that God is green. Read it at: http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2007-2008/papers/krznaric_roman.pdf

Girls Count: A global investment & action agenda – Adolescent girls are frequently discriminated in terms of health, education, nutrition and labor force participation. Due to gender bias and cultural norms frequently they are not seen as worthy of equal investment as young boys by their families and in their society. This report from the Center for Global Development describes why and how to initiate effective investments that will give adolescent girls in developing countries a full and equal chance for rewarding lives and livelihoods. It outlines three key actions: count girls (disaggregate data to make girls more visible), invest in girls, give girls a fair chance. The authors have provided specific recommendations for civil society, governments, private-sector leaders, and donor agencies to create mechanisms for the meaningful participation of young women and adolescent girls in their programs and policy.
See: http://www.cgdev.org/content/publications/detail/15154

10-Year Strategic Review of “Impact of armed conflict on children” – Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, launched a ten-year strategic review following up the 1996 report “Impact of armed conflict on children” by Graça Machel. The review discusses the evolving and severe impact of conflicts on children and measures progress made since 1996. It pressure on all UN Member States to fulfill their responsibilities to children by giving them access to basic services like education, health, nutrition, water, and sanitation. Read it here: http://www.un.org/children/conflict/_documents/machel/MachelReviewReport.pdf

Will you listen? Children respond to armed conflict – A companion piece to the 10-year review of the impact of armed conflict on children, Will you listen? compiles the views and recommendations of over 1,700 children in 92 countries. Focus group discussions were conducted by in 18 countries, and involved over 1,385 participants in 125groups to inform this comprehensive report of children’s experiences. http://www.unfpa.org/upload/lib_pub_file/720_filename_will_you_listen_090607.pdf

Education for all by 2015: Will we make it? – The 2008 edition of the Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report is a mid-term review of progress towards the six EFA goals established in 2000. On the positive side, there is a rise in the number of children starting primary school, the number of girls in school, and spending on education and aid. However, poor quality, the cost of schooling and high levels of adult illiteracy rates need to be tackled in order to meet the EFA goals by 2015. For links and more information: http://tinyurl.com/ypuedw

New edition of guide for NGO participation at UN The UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service – (NGLS) has just released an updated version of their handbook on the UN: “Intergovernmental Negotiations and Decision Making at the United Nations: A Guide.” It’s a really useful (and actually quite interesting) resource.
Go to: http://www.un-ngls.org/site/IMG/pdf/DMUN_Book_PAO_WEB.pdf.
If you would like a printed copy, contact Emily.Davila@elca.org

World Economic Forum’s measures global gender gap – This report measures the size of the gender gap in four critical areas of inequality in 115 countries. To do so, it examines: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, political empowerment and health and survival. Sweden holds the top rank, with 81 percent of the gender gap closed. The United States rank 31st at 70 percent, and Yemen holds the title for the biggest gap, with only 45 percent of the gender gap closed. To read more about the Gender Gap Index go to: http://www.weforum.org/en/media/Latest Press Releases/Global_Gender_Gap_2007

Applying human rights principles to sexual orientation and gender identity – In response to well-documented patterns of abuse, a distinguished group of international human rights experts met in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2006 to outline a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. The result was the Yogyakarta Principles: a universal guide to human rights which propose binding international legal standards with which all States must comply, based on previously agreed standards. Though not officially recognized by the United Nations, they promise a different future where all people born free and equal in dignity and rights can fulfill that precious birthright. The principles are presented here in all six United Nations languages: http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org/principles_en.htm

Toolkits and resources

Free communications and planning toolkits offered to civil society organizations – This series of toolkits, aimed at organizations to improve their capacity in the areas of communication and planning, are provided by CIVICUS, an international alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society. The toolkits are provided in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic. The useful toolkits cover themes such as “Writing Effectively & Powerfully”, “Developing a Financing Strategy” or “Writing a Funding Proposal” or “Strategic Planning”.
For further information: http://www.civicus.org/new/civicus_toolkit_project.asp

Guide to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights – Marking the 20th anniversary of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission), Amnesty International has published this report in order to foster greater participation by civil society groups and human rights defenders in the work of the African Commission. For more information, http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?lang=e&id=ENGIOR630052007

Subscribe to new newsletter on disability rights convention – The Enable newsletter is a service of the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to keep you informed about the work of the UN system on disability issues. To subscribe: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=312 

The preceding message was forwarded from the Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC) – a joint ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) at the United Nations. The ELCIC is a member of the LWF.

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E-Communique from the ELCIC – January/February 2008

Welcome to E-Communique – An electronic resource of instant information for Church Leaders from the National Office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

E-Communique is:

  • An electronic toolbox of timely information and resources recommended by the ELCIC and sent to congregations, national committees, clergy and lay leaders throughout our church.
  • An easy to use collection of new ideas, resources and live links to helpful websites.
  • Easy to cut and paste from so that you can add information from this resource to your worship bulletins!

Subscribe to E-Communique by emailing communique@elcic.ca and indicate "subscribe" in the subject line.

Read past issues online.
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Inside This Issue of E-Communique:

1. DIACONAL MINISTRY January 27 Recognition
2. STEWARDSHIP Resources and Tips
3. GHDA Resources for your Lenten Journey
4. CANADA LUTHERAN Highlights from the Jan/Feb Issue
5. MISSION IN THE WORLD Training and Events
6. WORSHIP 2008 National Worship Conference
7. ELW Be Not Afraid
8. CLYG 2008 Travel Light
9. ACROSS THE SYNODS News for ELCIC Congregations All Across Canada
10. NUGGETS FROM THE ‘NET Online Resources
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1. LIFTING UP DIACONAL MINISTRY ON JANUARY 27

January 27 is the Commemoration day for Phoebe, Lydia and Dorcas on the Lutheran worship calendar. Phoebe was a deaconess (see Romans 16:1), and the other two were active in caring for the needs of people. Diaconal Ministry is a rostered, public ministry of the ELCIC. Diaconal Ministers offer a Ministry of Word and Service, with particular focus on equipping the baptized to bear witness through compassionate action. There are currently 25 Diaconal Ministers on the roster of the ELCIC. A Diaconal Ministry brochure is available on the ELCIC website: https://www.elcic.ca (click on resources, then documents, and scroll down to “Diaconal Ministry Brochure, 2006”)

On Sunday January 27, the ELCIC invites you remember Diaconal Ministry; pray for the diaconal members of the roster and pray that the whole church will recognize its call to be In Mission for Others by offering a witness of service and care to our neighbours.

2. STEWARDSHIP RESOURCES FROM THE NATIONAL OFFICE

Would you like to learn more about how our faith shapes our lives and the decisions we make about how we manage and care for our time, our talent, our money and creation? The Steward is a bimonthly newsletter which provides information about our church’s stewardship ministry and tips about deepening this work. To sign up to receive The Steward e-mail randersen@elcic.ca and indicate "Subscribe to The Steward" in the memo portion of your email.

3. PREPARING FOR YOUR LENTEN JOURNEY

The ELCIC’s Global Hunger and Development Appeal (GHDA) has collaborated with partner Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) to produce resources which may be used to guide your Lenten discipline of prayer and reflection. May they be signs of the renewal we look to in the Easter Resurrection. The following resources are available for downloading:
2008 Family Lenten Calendar (https://elcic.ca/GHDA/Resources/documents/Lent-Calendar-2008.pdf) – aims to involve Sunday school aged children in the Lenten journey through daily learning, prayer and action.
2008 Bulletin Inserts (https://elcic.ca/GHDA/Resources/documents/Lent-Inserts-GHDA-2008.pdf)

4. CANADA LUTHERAN

Do you subscribe to Canada Lutheran (CL), the magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada? Here’s what CL subscribers will be reading about in the January/February 2008 issue :

Feeding the Soul: Could you feed your family on $11 a day? Learn how one Edmonton couple instituted a meager monthly food budget to teach their family to value their daily bread–and the many other blessings they share.
Finding Forgiveness: Martin Luther tell us that “Forgiveness is God’s Command,” but how do we begin this healing journey? Whether you’re stinging from a recent disappointment or languishing in life-long pain, these remarkable examples of forgiveness will inspire you to take the first step.
Bible Study 101: Too shy to join a study group? Too nervous to start one of your own? These expert tips will introduce you to the joys–and pitfalls–of small-group discussion.
Order and Chaos: This summer’s National Worship Conference will help liturgical leaders explore ways to combine orderly, time-honoured liturgies with creativity and innovation.

If you aren’t currently a subscriber to Canada Lutheran, find out how to become one at: https://www.elcic.ca/clweb/index.html.

Interested in just this particular issue? You can order individual copies of Canada Lutheran for $3.95 plus taxes and postage. Contact the National Office at orders@elcic.ca to order.

5. ELCIC’S MISSION IN THE WORLD

Mission Trip Leaders Training – Two to four-week mission exposure and work trips are currently very popular in the ELCIC. Some of these trips are associated with the Companion Synod Program while most are done by individual congregations. ELCIC Mission in the World (MW) is encouraging best practices so that mission trips can be beneficial to both participants and hosts. By working ecumenically with the Canadian Churches Forum for Global Ministries, ELCIC MW is now able to offer the Mission Trip Leaders’ Training program and accompanying resource Sojourning, A Leader’s Guide for Short Term Mission Travel. The next training seminar is in Winnipeg, March 8-9, 2008 (register by February 10). For further details and to register go to the Forum’s web site http://www.ccforum.ca.

2008 Global Events – The events produced by ELCA Global Mission are endorsed by the ELCIC. The next Global Mission Event (GME) will be in La Crosse, Wisconsin, July 17-20, 2008. In addition to the main GME, the new ELCA Global Formation Events will be offered at three locations in 2008. Register as a congregational team for a Global Formation Event, build skills together and return energized to help your congregation be effective in God’s mission locally and in the global Lutheran community. For further details go to the GME web site http://www.elca.org/gme .

6. 2008 NATIONAL WORSHIP CONFERENCE

Fast becoming a tradition in partnership, the 2008 National Worship Conference – ‘Order and Chaos’ – is sponsored by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada. According to the conference website, "’Order’ and ‘Chaos’ may well describe the way many of us involved in the planning and executing of liturgies in the church feel about the whole endeavour. We are always working within an ‘order’ but it sure seems chaotic at times!" Order and Chaos will take place June 25 to 28, 2008 in Montreal, Quebec. Keynote presenters include Gordon Lathrop and Karen Ward. Further information and registration is available online at http://www.worshipconference2008.org/

7. EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN WOMEN’S 2008 CONVENTION

Is the 2008 Evangelical Lutheran Women (ELW) convention being promoted in your congregation? Has someone made an announcement to all women? Do you know where the poster is hanging in your church to promote this national event? (Posters were sent in August 2007 to all congregational ELW groups.) Have copies of the registration form been photocopies and distributed? Is fundraising taking place so that your congregation can send a group? For further information on our national women’s convention, visit the ELW website at: http://www.elw.ca

Speaking of the ELW website… it’s been completely redesigned!! Check it out at http://www.elw.ca

8. CANADIAN LUTHERAN YOUTH GATHERING

Travel Light, the theme for the 2008 Canadian Lutheran Youth Gathering was announced at the 2007 National Convention. Mark your calendars, this is trip is one you won’t want to miss! The 2008 Canadian Lutheran Youth Gathering (CLYG) will be taking place August 14 – 17, 2008 in Whitehorse. Further information is available online at http://youth.elcic.ca/travelLight/index.htm and posters have been sent out to all ELCIC congregations.

9. ACROSS THE SYNODS

KAIROS Sunday 2008—make your plans! The ELCIC encourages all churches to make some space for justice in your worship and study life by planning a KAIROS service of worship. A new liturgy, bulletin insert, children’s resources and more are available at http://www.kairoscanada.org/e/network/sunday/index.asp If you want additional worship ideas, see our complete list at http://www.kairoscanada.org/e/resources/worship/index.asp KAIROS is a partner of the ELCIC’s Global Hunger and Development Appeal (GHDA).

Calling of Mark Harris as Assistant to the Bishop in the Eastern Synod – Rev. Dr. Mark W. Harris, pastor of Mount Zion Lutheran Church, Waterloo will fill one of two vacant positions in the Eastern Synod office.The work of the Eastern Synod and the ELCIC is not new to Harris. Since his ordination to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in June 1980, Harris has served the Synod, National Church and International and Ecumenical communities either by election or appointment to various committees and task forces. Harris is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors of Canadian Lutheran World Relief and is the ELCIC appointee to the Consultation on Common Texts. Read the full release at: http://www.easternsynod.org/docs/2007/07-11-20%20Harris%20Newsrelease.pdf

ELCIC Fleeces – we have been looking into the possibility of making fleeces with the ELCIC’s updated In Mission for Others logo available. These full-zippered fleeces are available in burgundy or black and have the full ELCIC logo embroidered in white thread on the left-hand front of the jacket. We would first like to gauge whether there is enough interest in this before we go ahead. If you may be interest in individual or group purchases, please email Trina Gallop, communications manager, at tgallop@elcic.ca and indicate the approximate quantity you would be interested in. Fleeces would be available for $39.50 each – this includes shipping.

10. NUGGETS FROM THE ‘NET

New website monitors Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The United Nations launched a new website powered by Google and network equipment maker Cisco that will show how and where the world is succeeding or failing in meeting the MDGs on ending poverty. The creators of the website said that better monitoring of progress should spur success. Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said that the site would, for the first time, present all the information on the goals in one place, allowing closer monitoring and helping identify places in need of greater attention. The site gathers statistics from around the world to give a snapshot of how each country is doing in meeting the eight goals, from cutting infant mortality to reducing hunger. http://www.mdgmonitor.org (With files from AP and Lutheran Office for World Community).

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Some of the resources mentioned in E-Communique are available from the ELCIC National Office. If you prefer to order those materials in print, phone 1.888.786.6707 ext 177 or 204.984.9177; email orders@elcic.ca; or fax your order to 204.984.9185 "Attn Orders Desk". Be sure to fully describe the item and tell us the quantity you need. You will be invoiced when the order is filled.

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ELW Continues Search for Viable Path to Long-term Sustainability

Finding ways for the ELCIC’s Evangelical Lutheran Women (ELW) to, "continue to support an office which in turn supports the tremendous ELW ministries taking place in congregations across Canada" is paramount to the future of the ELW says Ruth Vince, executive director, ELW.

The National ELW has been in a redevelopment process for the last couple of years; recommendations from the process are expected to be presented to the National ELW board when it meets in March 2008.

Using surveys, focus groups and conversations with key stakeholders, the ELW has been seeking to develop an understanding of the current landscape within the organization. A strategic planning professional was brought in on-contract to assist with the assessment of the information collected and more recently an advisory group consisting of ELW National Board members, ELW staff and ELCIC National Church Council members, including the ELCIC National Bishop and national staff members met to begin a discussion on the findings.

The redevelopment process has been crucial to identifying viable ways to continue the operation of ELW. Income levels have not been matching expenses over the last couple of years and in order to continue the operation of ELW through 2008, significant measures were implemented to limit further financial spending. Included in the cuts were the reduction of office hours and staff salaries, along with cuts to programs and travel.

Vince notes that further cuts are likely a reality for the 2009 budget.

Those on the advisory committee will continue to work towards their goal of bringing a recommendation forward at the March 15-18 National ELW board meeting. At that time the National Board will explore whether convention delegates will need to vote on any redevelopment issues. Vince says all Congregational-ELW groups will be informed in April if there are major decisions that will be presented at the July National convention so that discussion can take place prior to it being voted on.

In a recent letter to Vince and Betty St. Onge, ELW President, ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson praised the work of St. Onge and Vince, as well as the Board and Staff of ELW. Bishop Johnson noted with appreciation the ongoing partnership in ministry provided by the ELW and their role in nurturing faith,developing leadership and supporting the work of the church through ELW Praise Offerings.

The ELW was incorporated in 1986 when the ELCIC was formed and is a national non-profit organization of the ELCIC. The ministry of the ELW is self-supported through direct offerings called Grace Gifts. Individuals who attend ELW events are encouraged to support ELW in the form of free-will offerings. Donations to Grace Gifts and other ELW directed funds are also received through ELW’s national office.

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

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