The 2009 ELCIC National Convention continues today at the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver. View the agenda online.
Speaking with conviction and warmth, Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) led a Bible study with delegates of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s (ELCIC) Twelfth Biennial National Convention, taking place June 25 to 28 at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
Bishop Hanson drew his theme “Living at the Intersection of Fear and Hope,” from John 20:19-23, where Jesus appears to the disciples after his resurrection. Here the disciples are hiding in fear when Jesus arrives and says, “Peace be with you.”
Bishop Hanson said that the church is often fearful, as the disciples were. It can withdraw, and become possessive, distrustful, and anti-neighbourly. He said that in times of fear, the church can distort itself into a fortress, a military outpost, a retreat centre called “Nostalgia,” or a competitor in a consumer market. (read more)
The Rev. Robert Bugbee, President of Lutheran Church-Canada (LCC) brought greetings to delegates at this morning's business session and expressed his appreciation for the work of the ELCIC and LCC together through the Lutheran Council in Canada, Scouts Canada and Canadian Lutheran World Relief.
In addition to motions put forward by National Church Council, delegates also heard from the Committee of Reference and Council that reports all resolutions received from Synod councils, congregations and individuals. The role of Reference and Council is to review the motions, ensure they are in order, and then make recommendations to convention regarding their disposition.
The following are a few of the motions that were brought forward to convention and approved by delegates:
Delegates approved the appointment of a Taskforce to Increase Seminary Enrollment. Noting that there are less than ten students enrolled in first year studies at Saskatoon and Waterloo Seminaries this year, the taskforce will examine and make recommendations about seminary requirements for enrollment and other related issues and report to the next convention.
- The Youth Assembly, who participated in convention as fully participating delegates, put forward a motion encouraging the next convention to explore and implement ways to be better stewards of creation at the next convention. This would include reducing paper use, reduction of food and food waste, consideration of transportation and other areas where the impact on the environment can be ameliorated.
For a complete list of motions and the recommendations presented by Reference and Council, refer to the minutes of Convention.
Saturday night delegates took a break from the formal business sessions of the 2009 National Convention and gathering together for a “Celebration of Hope” event that lifted up several ministries throughout the church. The evening was interspersed with stories, recognition and music.
Outgoing members of National Church Council, including Roger Kingsley, vice president; Elizabeth Hachborn, Eastern (lay); and Judy Kochendorfer, British Columbia (lay) were acknowledged for their years of service.
The work of National Office staff member, Kelvin Krieger was also recognized during the evening’s festivities. Krieger, Mission in the World coordinator, has been with the ELCIC for 16 years and worked with all four of the ELCIC’s National Bishops.
The evening included a number of signs of hope from across the church.
Steve Tomtene from Birch Hills Lutheran in Saskatchewan shared how a few years ago his congregation was reeling from a division that saw nearly half of their members depart. Rather than give up, the congregation rallied to seek ways of being In Mission for Others. “We talked about what we did well, and that was farming,” he says, “So, we rented two quarters of land and started fund raising, because it costs a lot of money to plant a crop.”
In the last five years through the members’ efforts and with the help of the greater community, the congregation has raised $100,000 in grain. With grants from Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), this has become a donation of $500,000 that has been distributed internationally through Canadian Lutheran World Relief!
During another signs of hope story, attendees heard from St. Matthew’s in New Brunswick. Five years ago they struggled in an aging building with no pastor, today they are a four story 45 unit low income housing building with common area for worship and a growing congregation.
And, at Mt. Zion in New Westminster, British Columbia, the congregation responded to the need for English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, now they have signs of hope in their large and ethnically diverse Sunday School with the children of ESL students!
Musical guests rounded out the evening.