In a collaborative ministry project involving many partners, the ELCA provided funding for several initiatives focused on strengthening the church's commitment to multicultural, public life, evangelism and young adult leadership development.Funding
In April 2005, the ELCA Church Council designated a total of $4.5 million in unspent budget funds from fiscal year 2004 and previously designated funds, specifically to support mission tied to the ELCA's five strategic priorities. The priorities are supporting congregations; growing in evangelical outreach; stepping forward as a public church; deepening global, ecumenical and interfaith relationships; and developing and supporting leaders. Of the $4.5 million, $2,050,000 was earmarked for leadership development.Coordination
The Rev. M. Wyvetta Bullock, then executive for leadership development, ELCA Office of the Presiding Bishop, was named to coordinate the specially funded leadership initiatives. She coordinated leadership development components of ethnic ministry strategies and evangelism strategies, worked with others to distribute leadership development funds, identify and make known best practices, and provided for discussion and publications related to a "theology of leadership."Multicultural Leadership Development
Through synods, seminaries, established multicultural communities in the ELCA, staff of the churchwide organization and a variety of other partners, the collaborators funded some 19 ministry projects. Most of the funds were designated for multicultural leadership development.
Multicultural communities recognized by the ELCA include African and African American; American Indian and Alaska Native; Arab and Middle Eastern; Asian and Pacific Islander; and Latino.
Something keeps pulling us to do this ministry together. It won't let us go. It keeps us pressing, keeps us recommitting and keeps us at the table. I believe it is God's spirit at work among us.
- The Rev. Dr. Marion Wyvetta Bullock
Among the initiatives funded were programs aimed at recruitment, development of clergy and lay leaders, internships, evangelism, leadership in public life, development and enhancement of a young adult program in global mission, and development of the next generation of seminary professors of color.
Most of the leadership ministry projects fell into one of three categories: recruitment, formation / preparation and placement. In addition to strengthening lay leadership initiatives, also key were increasing number of clergy who are people of color and the number of people of color serving as teaching theologians in seminaries.
At its eight seminaries, the ELCA has a total of 22 teaching theologians who were people of color; three had only one person of color as a teaching theologian. Another 488 people of color served as active clergy and professional lay leaders among the ELCA's nearly 19,000 clergy and professional lay leaders.
Why should the ELCA be so committed to raising up a new generation of leaders, especially leaders or color? The demographics of the United States show there is a "changed landscape," notes Wyvetta Bullock, adding that the "mission to which God calls us is an increasingly multicultural opportunity."
At nearly every ELCA churchwide assembly — the church's chief legislative authority which meets every two years — voting members have recommitted the church to its stated intention to be a more multicultural church, she said. Actions have included renewing a constitutional goal that 10 percent of the ELCA's members and elected leaders of synod assemblies, councils, committees, boards and other organizational units be people of color; adopting ethnic ministry strategies; adopting the social statement, "Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity and Culture
"; and committing resources for increased mission with people of color.
"Something keeps pulling us to do this ministry together," Bullock said. "It won't let us go. It keeps us pressing, keeps us recommitting and keeps us at the table. I believe it is God's spirit at work among us."
To accompany the American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian and Pacific Islander and Latino Ministry strategies, the 2005 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Orlando adopted two ethnic ministry strategies aimed at reaching out to people of African Descent, and Arab and Middle Eastern heritage. The actions call the church to "put muscle" behind what the ELCA has in place.
"None of us are all of what I believe we are called to be when we isolate ourselves from other people in God's creation," said Bullock. "As a church we really need to be transformed."For more information
, please contact
The Rev. Sherman Hicks, Executive Director
Multicultural Ministries, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
8765 West Higgins Road, Chicago, Illinois, 60631 | 773-380- 2841 | firstname.lastname@example.org