New Leadership for Women of the ELCA

11/1/1996 12:00:00 AM

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The executive board of Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the women's organization of the ELCA, met here Oct. 24-27 under the leadership of a new board president and interim executive director.  A heavy emphasis on fresh starts emerged as the board began a process of envisioning the work of the unit for the turn of the millennium.
     "As I look to the future, the Women of the ELCA will engage in a lot of hard work in being God's reach-out arms to the world," said board president Sharroll A. Bernahl, Fort Morgan, Colo.  "In our envisioning process, the board will continue to focus on determining and meeting the needs of women of all ages, abilities and backgrounds," she said.
     I see each board member as "a prophetess -- a woman of God who challenges society by naming how things are and then proclaiming how God wants creation to be," said Terry L. Bowes, Longmont, Colo., interim executive director for Women of the ELCA.  "There is a female voice in this world.  God is at work in our world and in our work," she said.
     Linda Chinnia, Baltimore; Merle E.O. Freije, Mayville, N.D., and Vicki Hamilton, Slidell, La., were elected to the board's executive committee.  Mary G. Seale, Roosevelt N.Y., is vice president and Donna L. Haack, Pomeroy, Iowa, is secretary of the board's executive committee.  The board for the Women of the ELCA has 17 members.
     "My vision for the Women of the ELCA is that we continue to struggle with the Hebraic concept of community," said Freije. "We live in the most violent country in the world.  We need to be in God's gift of community," she said.
     "Live God's Justice" will be the follow-up theme to the Third Triennial Convention of Women of the ELCA, "Proclaim God's Peace."  The theme verse is Micah 6:8.
     "The purpose of the 1999 triennial convention is to bring this organization in community, to celebrate who we are as God's people, to be in conversation about tough issues, to be challenged by one another, and to embrace each other in our varied gifts to help make this world a better place in which to live," said Freije.
     "Women are going to be challenged out of their own comfort zone," said Bowes.  "This can be frightening, uncomfortable and challenging, but it is also a growing and faithful thing," she said.  The board will help prepare people for what the 1999 triennial convention will be, said Bowes.  It will be an education process, and the board will be a vital element, she said.
     In other business, the board designed the position description for the executive director for Women of the ELCA. The board's executive committee will serve as the search committee. Bowes was appointed as interim executive director Oct. 1 and will serve until an executive director is elected.
     "The executive director should be a woman who has a clear sense of self-identity, deeply grounded in faith and prayer, with a clear sense of the identity for Women of the ELCA," said Bowes. "She should have a clear sense of what it means to be a Lutheran in this world at this time," she said.
     Women of the ELCA has nearly 500,000 participants in 9,200 ELCA congregational units and 64 synodical women's organizations throughout the United States and Caribbean.

For information contact: Ann Hafften, Dir., ELCA News Service,
(312) 380-2958 or AHAFFTEN@ELCA.ORG; Frank Imhoff, Assoc. Dir.,
(312) 380-2955 or FRANKI@ELCA.ORG


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