7/24/2014 1:00:00 PM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (ELCA) – The Ninth Triennial Convention of Women of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) concluded here July 24 with the installation of new officers and members of the Women of the ELCA churchwide executive board. The convention, which took place at the Charlotte Convention Center July 22-24, is Women of the ELCA's highest legislative authority with delegates elected by each of the 64 synodical women's organizations.
Delivering her final report July 22 as president of Women of the ELCA, Jennifer Michael told the convention, "I am continuing to grow into who God has meant me to be. And it could never have happened, never have happened, without being a participant in Women of the ELCA."
The more than 360 delegates to the Ninth Triennial Convention elected new officers and executive board members who will serve a three-year term concluding in 2017. The new officers include:
+Patti Austin, president. Austin is a member of All Saints Lutheran in Lilburn, Ga.
+ Jody Smiley, vice president. Smiley is a member of St. Michael Lutheran in Blacksburg, Va.
+Becky Shurson, secretary. Shurson is a member of Faith Lutheran in Yucaipa, Calif.
+Ely Smith, re-elected treasurer. Smith is a member of Trinity Lutheran in Parkland, Wash.
In her remarks to the convention, Austin said, "Now is the time for us to tell our story, to connect and to communicate with every woman in our congregations, telling them what God has done through this organization, our organization."
Drawing on the convention's theme, "of many generations," Austin said, "Ladies, it's important that we remain focused and dream big. We are the repairers of the breach. Young or old, our role in God's work is too important not to share with every generation. We are called and empowered to do it together, she said. "God's kingdom is unfolding just as he had planned from the beginning. Get ready, ladies. God is doing a new thing in and through this organization and each of you."
Other convention business included the approval of the following memorials, or proposals, from the 64 synodical women's organizations:
+ Financially support efforts to provide solar energy for Phebe Hospital in Liberia – the largest public health institution in the African country.
+ Raise awareness and prevention of human trafficking, a "growing problem" in the United States, according to the text of the memorial. It is estimated that 2 million people are trafficked worldwide and "27 million people are enslaved around the world," according to the memorial.
Emily Fitchpatrick, founder and executive director of On Eagles Wings – a Charlotte-based ministry designed to provide hope and care to victims of sex trafficking – offered greetings and expressed her gratitude to the convention.
Delegates also committed the women's organization to pray for guidance and direction in the current humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied children entering the United States. With 318 to 30 votes in favor, delegates of the convention approved a resolution July 23 that also encourages ELCA congregations to be places of hospitality and to share its action with ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton and executive, legislative and judicial branches of the U.S. government to "welcome children who are seeking refuge from violence" and to "treat these children with compassion." Linda Hartke, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, addressed the convention and thanked delegates for their "generous support." Based in Baltimore, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is one of the nation's leaders in welcoming and advocating for refugees and immigrants, working on behalf of the ELCA.
In other business, delegates defeated a recommendation to reduce the board's membership size. Of the 363 total eligible votes, 326 delegates voted no and 32 were in favor of the recommendation, which required a two-thirds vote for adoption. Offerings taken during the convention's worship will be distributed to Women of the ELCA, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and On Eagles Wings Ministries.
The convention also approved the 2015 budget for the women's organization. The accepted budget accounts for revenue, support and other income equal the expenditures at $2,941,593. The expenses include $425,000 to be given to the ELCA churchwide organization, based in Chicago.
The convention precedes the Ninth Triennial Gathering of Women of the ELCA, July 24-27, where 2,000 women from across this church are gathering under the theme "of many generations."
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
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