ELCA NEWS SERVICE
November 19, 2009
ELCA Council Approves Charter, Hears Secretary's Report, Elects Leaders
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) approved a charter for a comprehensive study of the ELCA and its future mission. A task force will conduct the study with the goal of bringing a report with recommendations to the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Orlando.
The council is the ELCA's board of directors and serves as the legislative authority of the church between churchwide assemblies. It met here Nov. 13-15.
The project, "Living into the Future Together: Renewing the Ecology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America," will be guided by an Ecology of the ELCA Task Force. Some members of a design group began work on the project in June 2009, prepared the charter and will remain with the task force. Additional members will be appointed by the council's Executive Committee.
The study group will be led by two questions, said the Rev. Diane H. "Dee" Pederson, St. Cloud, Minn., chair. They are: What is God calling this church to be and to do in the future? What changes are in order to accomplish these tasks more faithfully?
"We are committed to transparency in this work. We will form ourselves into working groups and study specific topics," she told the council.
Among the many phases of its work, Pederson said the task force will examine the relationships among and the key changes that have affected ELCA synods, congregations, the churchwide organization, agencies and institutions, colleges and seminaries, diversity, mission support and stewardship, governance of the ELCA, and external factors such as the effects of globalization and technology on the ELCA.
Preliminary cost for the task force's work is estimated at $170,000 for 2009-2011.
Secretary reports on Constitution, votes in synods
"To say this has been a tumultuous time would be the understatement of the year," said David D. Swartling, ELCA secretary, as he began his council report. The Office of the Secretary staff has fielded many questions in the past few months about polity, process and procedures, he said, adding that the answers are not always simple.
Swartling spent much of his report on the interdependence of the ELCA. He pointed out sections of the Constitution, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions of the ELCA, and the model constitutions for synods and congregations, that address interdependence, as well as responsibilities for participation and financial support of ministries by synods and congregations.
Swartling said his staff has worked with synods to tally congregations that have taken first and second votes to leave the denomination in response to the 2009 ELCA assembly's decision to change ministry policies. As of late last week, 87 ELCA congregations -- out of some 10,400 -- have taken first votes to leave, he reported. Of that, Swartling said 28 congregations failed to achieve the required two-thirds vote to pass a resolution to leave.
If a first vote succeeds, a congregation is required to enter into a consultation period with the synod bishop for at least 90 days before taking a second and possibly final vote. Only five congregations have voted a second time and left, he said.
"The numbers don't support the wildly exaggerated claims we've heard," Swartling said. "This is a small percentage of the 10,000 congregations in the ELCA. The fact that we're more than two months after the assembly and the numbers are in this vein is a sign of hope in my mind."
Council re-elects executives, elects committee members
Council members re-elected three churchwide program unit executives: the Rev. Sherman G. Hicks, Multicultural Ministries; Daniel J. Lehmann, editor, The Lutheran; and the Rev. Stanley N. Olson, Vocation and Education.
The council also elected members to churchwide boards and committees:
+ Advisory Committee, The Lutheran: the Rev. Jennifer M. Ginn, Salisbury, N.C.; Judy R. Korn, Morris, Minn.; and John A. Wagner, Toledo, Ohio
+ ELCA Board of Pensions trustees: Cecil D. Bykerk, Omaha, Neb.
+ Board of Trustees, ELCA Foundation: the Rev. Susan J. Crowell, Greenville, S.C.; Teresa Chow, Hoffman Estates, Ill.; James E. Willis, Rockwell City, Iowa
+ Committee of Hearing Officers: the Rev. Gerald R. Kliner, Jr., Hurricane, W.Va.; Leslie M. Frost, St. Paul, Minn.; and William R. Lloyd, Jr., Somerset, Pa.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog