ELCA NEWS SERVICE
November 23, 2010
ELCA Council Acts on Structure, Governance Proposals, Other Topics
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) recommended constitutional amendments to the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly regarding a 3-year cycle for churchwide assemblies, council membership, eliminating program committees and strengthening interrelationships.
The Church Council is the ELCA's board of directors and serves as the legislative authority of the church between churchwide assemblies. The council met here Nov. 12-14. Assemblies are held every other year; the next is Aug. 14-20, 2011, in Orlando, Fla.
David D. Swartling, ELCA secretary, said a committee of the "Living Into the Future Together: Renewing the Ecology of the ELCA" task force, proposed the four constitutional amendments on structure and governance.
The council adopted the amendments and sent them to the 2011 Churchwide Assembly, which must approve amendments to the ELCA Constitution, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions. The council recommended:
+ A three-year churchwide assembly cycle: The proposed amendment calls for the churchwide assembly to meet every three years, after the 2011 and 2013 assemblies. To implement the transition to a triennial cycle, the council adopted a continuing resolution which states that it will make recommendations to the 2013 Churchwide Assembly regarding elections to the Church Council, boards and committees.
+ Changes in Church Council membership: This proposal calls for the council's voting members to include the four churchwide officers, the chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops, and "at least 33 and not more than 45 other persons" elected by the assembly. In background materials presented to the council, members were told that the Living Into the Future Together task force believes the council size is reasonable, but recommends changes in how some members are elected to provide additional expertise, experience and "good order in ELCA governance." Specifically, some council members may be elected whose skills and expertise are deemed crucial to the governance of the ELCA. The council also proposed eliminating a number of advisors because costs cannot be justified as mission support declines. Input from these constituencies could be provided in other ways, according to the background information.
+ Program committees: Following considerable discussion, the council proposed eliminating program committees and reallocating their responsibilities to a council committee. Only separately incorporated ministries of the ELCA will be governed by boards.
+ Interrelationships: The council proposed that synods "may establish conferences, clusters, coalitions, area subdivisions and networks" in their territories, and in collaboration with other synods and partners. The purpose is to strengthen connections throughout the church and with other partners.
The council took action on a number of other topics:
+ The council adopted new continuing resolutions regarding the design of the churchwide organization, announced on Oct. 11, and recommended to the 2011 Churchwide Assembly various constitutional amendments, including a number related to the design of the churchwide organization.
+ The council reaffirmed the commitment of the ELCA to "representational principles expressed in the ELCA's constitutions." It also expressed confidence that the new churchwide organizational design will continue this commitment and as the anticipated recommendations of the Living Into the Future Together task force are implemented.
+ The council elected the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla as executive director of the new Global Mission unit, and elected the Rev. Stephen P. Bouman as executive director of the Congregational and Synodical Mission unit. A search is under way for an executive director of the new churchwide Mission Advancement unit.
+ The council requested "that future social statements be scheduled with sensitivity to time demands" on staff and leaders throughout the church, and it acknowledged a preference that only one significant document be in process at any one time. It also agreed to a revised schedule for social documents already authorized but not yet begun. A social message on mental health was delayed until 2012, and a social statement on justice for women was delayed one assembly cycle. The council's action also called for review of the schedule in November 2011, considering actions of the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The current social statement on genetics, now in draft form, is to be presented for action to the 2011 assembly and a social statement on criminal justice is to be presented in 2013.
+ The council approved churchwide spending authorizations for the 2011 fiscal year, beginning Feb. 1, including an initial current fund spending authorization of $62.6 million and a $17 million ELCA World Hunger spending authorization.
Christina Jackson-Skelton, ELCA treasurer, said the projection for 2011 current fund income is a decrease of nearly $2.5 million from revised estimates for 2010. In particular, the 2011 budget is based on $48 million in anticipated mission support income, reduced from the $51 million in anticipated mission support for 2010, she said. The estimate for ELCA World Hunger income for 2011 is $1.7 million less than for 2010.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org