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Tenth Biennial Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
July 21 - 24, 2005
Winnipeg, Manitoba

In Mission for Others

Report of the Convention Renewal Committee

Introduction

The 2003 Convention affirmed the plan of National Church Council (NCC) to consult with congregations, conferences and synods regarding the size, format, cost, funding and representation of convention and requested a report to the 2005 Convention (NC-03-17). To honour that request questionnaires were distributed at synod conventions and mailed to all congregations/pastors.

Two models were proposed. Model one was a national convention of current leaders of synods and National Church, 92 in number. Model two was a national convention of elected delegates from each synod based on a percentage of baptized membership, an attendance of 54.

Survey Responses

Following is a summary of the 202 responses. The response rate is between 10–12% (600 congregations plus 1,000–1,400 attendance at synod conventions). The vast majority of responses were from congregations.

Below is a table summarizing the responses concerning each model.

 

Proposed Model
Number
Percentage
Model One  
68
 
34
Model Two  
57
 
29
Neither Model  
77
 
37
Total
202
100

Respondents showed considerable creativity/courage, by giving the neither response, as it was not a printed option.

Following are comments resulting from the survey. The numbers in brackets indicate the frequency of each comment.

Comments from those that supported model one (68 responses):

  • Large enough attendance (40)
  • Equal representation from synods (16)
  • Model two is too small a number of persons (12)
  • $200 fee per congregation is reasonable (11)
  • Would have committed/interested persons attending (9)
  • Enhance Synod Council role with congregations (7)
  • Maintain lay/clergy balance (5)

Concerns from those that supported model one (68 responses):

  • Too few in numbers (14)
  • Worry about the large, urban congregations dominating and the small, rural voice getting lost (3)
  • If our congregation could not send a delegate, we might not pay (2)
  • Entrenches a financial problem in the constitution. (2)

Comments from those that supported model two (57 responses):

  • More democratic in selecting delegates (30)
  • Would reduce costs (28)
  • Large enough group to have diversity, small enough to reach consensus (28)
  • Synod Council members are already too busy, too much for them, synod councils don’t represent the grass roots, they are in office too many years (18)
  • Ensure that there are more lay delegates than clergy (5)

Concerns from those that selected model two (57 responses):

  • Think the numbers are too small, suggest increase to 100 delegates (13)
  • Model one is too "top heavy", bureaucratic (10)

Comments from those that supported neither model (77 responses):

  • Stay with the present system, congregation have the choice to send delegates or not (32)
  • Increase number of delegates to 175/200/250, (29)
  • Too much concentrated power in synod councils (24)
  • Democracy is expensive (24)
  • Both models are too small in delegate numbers (18)
  • Select delegates at conference level (17)
  • To ensure room for grass roots, send delegates from one half of the congregations one time and the other half the next time (6)
  • The church is people, need to meet face to face (read Acts) (5)
  • Funding is a problem, but set per baptized member fee, and allocate on an annual basis to have a fund available (5)

Summary of Responses

The majority of respondents felt that both proposed models had too small a number of delegates, (36 or 18 %) commented that grass roots level of church participation must be maintained, that they wanted to see some balance of power between congregations and the elected leaders of synod and national expressions of this church, (66 responses, 33%) emphasis on congregational choice and self selection (or conference selection) of delegates. Most seemed to support a convention of 200/250 delegates (32 %). Support for NCC members voting, or not voting was evenly split. Those against NCC voting felt that NCC would be passing judgment on its own actions.

Other Comments

A question was asked about separating out the celebratory/worship events of convention to a separate event. 23% felt that worship was an integral part of the work of a convention. An equal number supported separate events, or higher profile for the existing Youth Gathering, Worship Conference, ELW gathering, etc. Some (8) suggested that all events be held at the same time and same place. Several (5) suggested joint celebratory/worship events with Anglicans.

  • 15% suggested less frequent conventions, either every 3 or 4 years.
  • 10% supported the central locations of Winnipeg or Toronto.
  • 10% had suggestions to reduce costs (less paper, shortened, no banquet)
  • 10% asked for agendas out earlier so there could be congregational discussions to inform delegates.
  • 8% felt that a per baptized member fee should be assessed.
  • 8% thought that delegates should be elected by synods.
  • 4% suggested using billets to reduce costs.

Proportional Cost Assessment

NCC was also asked to review the issue of assessing costs for convention on a proportional basis, based on size of congregation. The following material was developed to review this issue.

Assumptions:

  • Based on attendance of 535 delegates and 100 visitors.
  • Costs to operate any future convention will increase.
  • Costs are dependent on program activities, city and venue locations.
  • No accommodations included in fees for future conventions.

All congregations would be invoiced for a convention assessment fee based on baptized membership.

Congregations would be required to pay this assessment fee even if they did not send a delegate.

Assessment per baptized member at current convention costs would be about $2.70.

Sample of convention assessment fees at different levels of baptized membership are:

Convention Fees Assessed by Congregational Membership


Baptized Members

                   
Fee Assessment

50
                            
$135

100
   
270

150
   
405

200
   
540

250
   
675

300
   
810

350
   
945

400
 
1,080

450
 
1,215

500
 
1,350

550
 
1,485

600
 
1,620

650
 
1,755

700
 
1,890

750
 
2,025

800
 
2,160

850
 
2,295

900
 
2,430

950
 
2,565

1,000
 
2,700

1,500
 
4,050

2,000
 
5,400

2,500
 
6,750

3,000
 
8,100


Distribution of ELCIC Congregations by Size

Number of Members
Number of
Congregations
Total
Members
0 - 99
144
 
8,537
101 - 199
159
23,294
200 - 299
127
31,104
300 - 399
 
43
15,057
400 - 499
 
40
17,786
500 - 599
 
28
15,291
600 - 699
 
15
 
8,984
700 - 799
 
16
12,075
800 -899
 
12
10,175
900 - 999
 
9
 
8,469
1,000 - 1,999
 
17
22,085
2,000 - 2,999
 
3
 
6,595
3,000 - 3,999
 
1
 
3,020
Unknown
 
4
     
0
TOTALS
618
182,472

In the questionnaires returned, many raised the issue that they would not be prepared to pay for convention attendance if they could not attend. Taking that sentiment into mind, no recommendation is being presented by NCC for action in this area.

Recommendations to Convention

There is a very strong feeling that grass roots participation in church policy and celebratory events is very important, may be expensive and some might decide not to participate but the majority of responses favoured the status quo.

Thus NCC recommends no changes, except that those sections of the Constitution that refer to delegate selection be moved from the Constitution to the Bylaws. Those recommendations are presented in the report of the Constitution Committee.

Respectfully Submitted:
Convention Renewal Committee

Don Storch, Secretary ELCIC
Rev Susan Johnson
Rev. Lynne Hutchison
Judy Wry
Bishop Raymond Schultz

In full communion with The Anglican Church of Canada
© Copyright 2007 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada