Ninth Biennial Convention
Augustana University College, Cambros AB
June 12 - 15, 2003
A new Secretary
In February 2002, Robert Granke, the Secretary of the ELCIC, resigned to accept the position of Director of Lutheran World Service in Geneva. National Church Council thanked Bob Granke for his work as the ELCIC Secretary and said farewell at the March 2002 council meeting.
At the same meeting, National Church Council took steps to appoint an interim secretary until this convention could elect a secretary. Donald Storch was appointed as the secretary in a volunteer capacity. His work is supported by the Director of Administration position in the National Office.
A new Treasurer
At the September 2002 meeting, National Church Council endorsed the recommendation of the officers that the treasurer be an elected volunteer and that the day-to-day financial management of the ELCIC be handled by a finance director. A search committee will bring a nomination for election to the National Convention.
Assistants to the Bishop
It was with great pleasure that the ELCIC witnessed the election of Rev Cynthia Halmarson as the Bishop of the Saskatchewan Synod; however, Rev Halmarson's departure from her position of Assistant to the National Bishop was keenly felt. In March 2003, National Church Council was pleased to extend letters of call to Rev Paul Johnson and Rev Elaine Sauer as Assistants to the National Bishop. Rev Johnson's portfolio will be Ecumenical Affairs and Rev Sauer's responsibility will be Synodical Relations. Both positions are co-terminal with the National Bishop.
ELCIC Constitution and Bylaws
Amendments to the ELCIC Constitution require readings at two regular conventions of the ELCIC. A two-thirds majority is required for approval.
Amendments to the ELCIC Administrative Bylaws may be approved by a two-thirds majority of the delegates at any convention.
National Church Council is recommending six amendments to the ELCIC Constitution receive first reading at this Convention. They will receive second reading at the convention in 2005 and will be approved with a two-thirds majority vote at that convention. Recommendations
The first two changes relate to Article XII, (Officers), Section 3 and Section 6 and concern the issue of a vacancy in any of the officers' positions. The suggested amendments allow NCC to fill the vacancy of any of the offices with the exception of the bishop and gives the vice-president the authority to convene the National Church Council to provide for the discharge of the bishop's duties until the election of a new bishop at a regular or special convention. ( Page G-1)
The third change relates to Article X (Conventions). Since the 1987 convention, the voting body has requested changes to the size, format, cost, funding and representation formula of national conventions. The Task Force for Convention Renewal recommended to National Church Council that the constitution be changed to state only that there will be a convention and that the frequency, function, composition and responsibilities of the convention will be defined in the ELCIC Administrative Bylaws. A first reading of this change allows two years of consultation around the church to determine what that bylaw should define. Then the second Constitution reading for approval and bylaw amendment will be presented at the 2005 Convention. ( Page G-1)
The next change is to Article IX (Synods), Section 6 and defines the voting body at synod conventions. The Convention will be asked to approve removal of this section from the ELCIC Constitution as this is already defined in the synod constitutions.
( Page G-2)
Changes are presented to Article VII (Ordained Ministers), Section 3 and Article VIII (Lay Diaconal Ministers), Section 2 that would allow the synods to appoint all of the members of the synod examining committee and remove the requirement of appointee from the National Church. ( Page G-2 & G-3)
There are six parts of the ELCIC Administrative Bylaws that are presented to the 2003 convention for amendment: See Recommendations
The first amendment is related to bonding of employees of the church. The ELCIC is no longer able to purchase bonding insurance that will cover synods, auxiliaries and congregational treasurers. The requirement to provide the insurance needs to be removed from the bylaws. Page G-3)
NCC recommends that the ELCIC Administrative Bylaws Part III (Ordained Ministers), Section 12. a, be changed to require National Church Council to maintain a manual of discipline. At the same time, the subsequent sections 12.b to 12.k will be removed from the bylaws as these items are laid out in the Discipline Manual. Page G-3)
NCC recommends that ELCIC Administrative Bylaws Part III.1 (Lay Diaconal Ministers), Section 11 be repealed entirely and replaced with a new section that echoes the requirements for ordained ministers. ( Page G-6)
It is recommended that the Administrative Bylaws Part III, (Ordained), Section 1 be amended to point to the Candidacy Manual for the standards for acceptance of a candidate for ordination. This change brings the section for rostered ministers into line with the similar section for Lay Diaconal Ministers. (, Page G-8)
The 2001 Convention directed that National Church Council develop a constitution or bylaw amendment that would establish a Conference of Bishops in the ELCIC. The next recommendation is such an amendment. Page G-9)
The ELCIC legal counsel has advised that the Administrative Bylaws Part XIII (Benefit and Pension Plans), Section 5 must be repealed. This section, presented to the convention in 2001 for ratification , should have been made to the Administrative Bylaws of Group Services and the ELCIC Corporate Bylaws, not the ELCIC Administrative Bylaws. The ELCIC Administrative Bylaws outline the requirement of the church to provide the plan and the requirement of employers (congregations, synods, institutions etc) to enroll their members in the plan. The makeup of the board is a corporate issue and is correctly contained in the corporate bylaws and the bylaws of GSI. (, Page G-10)
National Church Council bears the responsibility of maintaining and making required changes to the ELCIC Corporate Bylaws as registered with the Canadian government. During the last two-year period, NCC approved minor editorial changes to the wording related to the composition of National Church Council and to the wording related to the requirement that the secretary be a full-time, in-house employee. These changes bring the corporate bylaws into line with the ELCIC Constitution and Administrative Bylaws and current practice.
It is the responsibility of National Church Council to approve any changes made to the constitutions and bylaws of the synods at a synod convention. The National Church Council Constitution and Bylaw Committee reviewed the changes made by the synod conventions in 2000 and approved the changes in March 2002.
In 2001, the National Convention identified the following priorities for the ELCIC for the period from 2001-2003:
- Nurture faith life in the home and congregation ministries;
- Strengthen collaborative working relationships in ecumenical and interfaith activities, with primary focus on strengthening the relationship with the Anglican Church of Canada;
- Strengthen collaborative working relationships within this church; and
- Church growth.
The Partners in Faith National Steering Committee, established in 2000, will complete its mandate with the 2003 convention. Twenty congregations across the country have agreed to act as Partner Congregations, covenanting to work in partnership with their synods to nurture faith and family ministry. They further promise to share stories and experiences with other churches in their communities. Each Partner Congregation has received support from the ELCIC and their synod-a financial gift to buy resources, and an enthusiastic synod facilitator with ideas and experience to share. Another tool is a Handbook for Congregations, a manual of general information about the ministry of sharing the faith and a collection of workshop modules. The responsibility for continued nurturing of faith life in home and congregation ministries will be assumed by the synods following the 2003 convention.
The primary focus on strengthening the relationship with the Anglican Church of Canada has been a source of great satisfaction in the past biennium. The Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission (JALC) was established after the signing of The Waterloo Declaration in 2001 and the commission has met four times since the last convention. The report of their activities appears as Appendix #1, Page X-1 The current ELCIC members of the commission are Bishop Michael Pryse, Cameron Harder, Ilze Kuplens-Ewart, Sharon Villetard and Paul Johnson.
Other ecumenical partnerships include participation in Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives and the Canadian Council of Churches.
National Church Council facilitated a National/Synod Officers Consultation in October 2001. The consultation was convened in response to the positive evaluations of previous consultations in 1997, the recent review of the Working Groups model and the emerging vision of a more clearly articulated working structure for the National Church and synods.
The purpose of the gathering was consultative rather than legislative. It was an opportunity for ELCIC leaders to meet as colleagues and partners in ministry to share the experience of church from their unique perspectives, to discuss plans for mission and ministry, and to recommend ways to work together as synods and National Church.
Four key areas of discussion emerged over the two-day event:
- Endorsement of a model of consultation and collaboration over the two-year period between National Conventions.
- Provision for an annual meeting of National Church and synods involving officers and staff in alternating years.
- Review and revision of national and synod responsibilities laid out in the 1995 convention motion NC-95-11. The revised responsibilities are outlined in a document called ELCIC National and Synodical Responsibilities (Report of the Bishop Attachment 1, Page B-9).
- Encouragement for NCC to review National Conventions and explore changes in size, format and composition to make conventions more affordable and more effective.
National Church Council continues to encourage church growth, particularly through support of the Church Extension and Capital Fund and the Canadian Mission Consultation.
In September 2002, National Church Council approved the Candidacy Manual. The manual has been distributed to the synods and to the CTEL committees.
At the recommendation of the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission, Guidelines for Anglican and Lutheran Priests and Pastors Serving Term Appointments in Each Other's Churches and Guidelines for Common Worship for Lutherans and Anglicans in Canada were adopted in March 2002. The recently revised guidelines (March 2003) appear as Appendix #2 and Appendix #3, Page X-7 and Page X-11.
In March 2003, National Church Council approved Guidelines for Initial Calls and Guidelines for Non-Stipendiary Ministry at the request of the Conference of Bishops. These guidelines appear as Appendix #4 and Appendix #5, Page X-17 and X-19.
Effective May 19, 2003, Kenn Ward has resigned from the position of editor of Canada Lutheran. Rev Ward has accepted a call to pastoral ministry at Messiah Lutheran Church, Camrose, AB. National Church Council warmly thanks Rev Ward for his faithful work as editor since 1991 and wishes him God's richest blessings in his new ministry.
National Church Council does not bring forward a nominee for editor to this Convention. Rather, the council supports the recommendation that an interim editor be appointed until a task force established to review the communication policies and vehicles of the ELCIC can complete its work.
The Task Force to review the communication strategy of the ELCIC is to:
- Consult with constituencies and partners;
- Review existing communication fields on the basis of demographics and intra/inter synodical relations (autonomy vs partnerships);
- Propose recommendations to guide the development of media methods of church-wide communications which maximize efficiency and reflect the mission of the church; and
- Report to the September 2004 National Church Council meeting.
In 2001, the ELCIC began to phase out the Communiqué mailing that was sent three times annually to congregations. In its place, the electronic Communiqué was created. A summary of new resources available appears in each issue of Canada Lutheran and is received in an email format by congregations, pastors and other interested members. Many resources are available to be downloaded over the Internet; those unable to download resources are able to order from the ELCIC office for a fee.
At the urging of conventions since 1987, the Future Directions Task Force and the National Synod Officers Consultation, National Church Council established a task force to explore convention renewal. The report of the task force appears as Appendix #6, page X-21.
In addition, National Church Council will pursue the task force's recommendation that consultations about possible changes, be held at synod and conference conventions and congregations across the ELCIC in 2003 and 2004. In 2005, an amendment to the ELCIC Administrative Bylaws, based on the outcomes of the consultations, will be proposed that will define the function, composition and responsibilities of National Conventions.
At the March 2003 meeting, National Church Council took action to confirm that the 2005 National Convention will be held in Winnipeg from July 14-17, 2005. Although the convention was originally intended to be held in Vancouver, research indicated that holding the event in Winnipeg would be thousands of dollars less expensive than in Vancouver. NCC has approved the change in venue with the blessing of the BC Synod.
The ELCIC is participating in the development of new worship resources in collaboration with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The ELCIC Program Committee for Worship bears responsibility for representing the ELCIC in this new venture. In September 2002, National Church Council authorized the trial use and evaluation of Renewing Worship trial use resources in the ELCIC through 2005.
On the recommendation of the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission, National Church Council approved the Guidelines for Common Worship (Appendix #3, Page X-11) in March 2002. In September 2002, NCC also authorized the Revised Common Lectionary Prayers, (published by the Consultation for Common Texts) for trial use and evaluation in the ELCIC through 2005. The Council also authorized four French language rites from the Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada for use in the ELCIC. The rites are for eucharist, baptism, marriage and funeral.
Women in Ministry
With Many Voices, the published report of the Women in Ministry Study has been published. A National Church Council Task Force was appointed to review the study and its key findings. At the March 2003 meeting, the following actions were taken:
- That the report of the Task Force on the Women in Ministry Study be accepted as presented.
- That National Church Council commend and express thanks to the author of the study, Dr Dianne Kieren, the With Many Voices Steering Committee, and the ordained women who participated in the study.
- That the Program Committee for Leadership for Ministry be given the task of ensuring that gender bias issues are addressed in the candidacy process and that the staff person working with that committee take the lead in keeping gender bias issues on the agenda of the church.
Court of Adjudication findings in the Richard Holm Case
At the 2001 Convention, the Court of Adjudication presented a report in the Bulletin of Reports regarding their findings in the case of Rev Richard Holm. Unfortunately, the convention did not take action to accept the report. The report is presented again as Appendix #7, Page X-25. National Church Council recommends that the report be received, that the Convention recall that the Court upheld the disciplinary action taken by the Eastern Synod Council, and that the Convention endorse the position of the Court of Adjudication in regards to the doctrinal question.(Recommendation #13, Page G-10)
Formation of a Chinese Special Interest Conference
At the September 2002 meeting National Church Council approved the formation of a Chinese Special Interest Conference. They also requested that the conference make a few minor changes to its Constitution and return the document to the Council for approval. At the same time, Council agreed to have the NCC Constitution and Bylaw Committee review the constitutions of the other existing special interest conferences.
Committee on Faith, Order and Doctrine
National Church Council took action at the March 2003 meeting to establish the terms of reference for an ad hoc Committee on Faith, Order and Doctrine. The following action was approved:
- That National Church Council establish an ad hoc Faith, Order and Doctrine Task Force consisting of two NCC members, one synodical bishop, one seminary professor and one parish pastor;
- That items concerning faith, order and doctrine be referred to this task force by National Church Council or the National Bishop;
- That the task force meet electronically to determine a course of action, and/or to develop a subcommittee that would study the issue referred and report to National Church Council through the ad hoc task force; and
- That the frame of reference of the committee is not legislative, but one of reflection and study, with recommendations for further study or action sent to NCC.