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Convention Highlights - July 15



This is the second day of National Convention. You can view the agenda online.


ELCIC Delegates Welcome Saskatoon Trible Chief Felix Thomas

Delegates of the Thirteenth Biennial National Convention of the ELCIC welcomed special guest Saskatoon Tribal Chief Felix Thomas with a standing ovation during Friday morning’s business session. National Church Council vice president Sheila Hamilton introduced Chief Thomas by acknowledging that this year’s convention in Saskatoon is taking place on the traditional lands of the people he represents.

“Most significant to us, however, is Chief Thomas’s commitment to working with all stake holders, including the ELCIC, as we consider how we can be partners with our First Nations brothers and sisters,” Hamilton said.

Representing seven First Nations, Chief Thomas has served on numerous local and national boards and commissions in his tireless work to improve the lives of indigenous peoples in Canada. One of the major initiatives of his territory is to help open doors for First Nations youth in the province.

“Opening these doors requires help from everyone: education, big and small business, entrepreneurs, social services, political institutions, and religious institutions,” said Chief Thomas in his address to delegates.

“When I first met with Bishop Susan, we talked about partnership, and in my view that partnership began out of necessity. But as we come together in the Saskatchewan community, these partnerships are not sustained out of need but from a want,” he continued. “We want to work together to improve the quality of life for all our members. We recognize that we all have a responsibility to make life better for ourselves and our neighbours. And when First Nations succeed, we all succeed. Society succeeds. The work we’re embarking on here will assist in that goal, and I thank you for your support on those issues.”

As part of this year’s meeting, convention delegates will consider a resolution on “Encouraging Right Relationships with Indigenous Peoples” (CC-2011-45). The resolution encourages congregations and church members to endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to support the work and goals of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and to seek out opportunities to deepen understanding of indigenous rights and to renew relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in our varied contexts.


Ethical Investment Resolution

Delegates to the 2011 ELCIC National Convention voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution regarding ethical investing.

The motion reads:

That the ELCIC in convention:

  • Ask members, congregations, and synods of this church to engage the issue of ethical investing in their private and collective practice;
    Commend to all expressions of this church the work of KAIROS on sustainability and resource extraction. (www.kairoscanada.org/en/sustainability/resource-extraction/)
  • Ask the National Church to identify educational resources on ethical investing for this engagement;
  • Ask National Church Council and Group Services Inc. (GSI) Administrator to review its investment policies, giving due consideration to how its practices reflect compassionate justice and ethical stewardship. Specifically, we urge that human rights and environmental sustainability be supported and upheld. We ask National Church Council and GSI to report back to the 2013 convention.

The resolution was presented as part of the Committee on Reference and Counsel's first report to convention. Committee Chair Rev. Michael Kurtz also served notice of a motion relating to the publication of petitions in the book of reports, submitted by St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kingston, ON. It will come before the convention for consideration during the committee's next report which will occur on Saturday morning.


Anglican Primate Offers Solidarity and Encouragement

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) enthusiastically addressed delegates, guests and visitors at the Thirteenth Biennial Convention of the ELCIC.

In his remarks, Primate Hiltz expressed joy in building relationships within the ELCIC— in particular, his close friendship with National Bishop Susan C. Johnson. “We speak on a monthly basis; we commiserate and support and encourage one another. And I am blessed to have Susan as my colleague and friend,” he said.

In recent years the two churches have taken bolder steps toward living out their full communion relationship, including bringing together their national church councils for meetings in April and planning joint national conventions for 2013.

“I look forward to the fall meeting of our bishops, and I’m grateful that our staffs are getting to know one another,” said the Primate. “We have shared lots of learning, love and laughter, and our sessions have generated many hopes and dreams for our Joint Commission on Anglican and Lutheran Relations.”

“I am enthused by initial plans of a joint convention in 2013. This will be a powerful ecumenical witness,” he continued.

Primate Hiltz also held up last summers’ Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth (CLAY) Gathering as “our most vibrant expression of full communion.”

On July 8, 2001, members of both the ELCIC and ACC gathered to celebrate the official signing of The Waterloo Declaration, which set forth the intent of the full communion relationship.

In the spirit of solidarity, Rev. Hiltz offered delegates his prayers and support for the coming days and beyond. “With you and for you, I will pray for the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit so you, in your church, will be strengthened in your desire to be covenant people In Mission for Others,” he said. “We are ready to be co-workers with you in whatever tasks of mission serve the gospel.”


National Bishop Re-Elected on Second Ballot

On the second ballot for National Bishop, the Rev. Susan C. Johnson was re-elected by delegates at the 13th Biennial National Convention.

Bishop Johnson received 238 ballots out of a possible 350. 233 votes were needed to declare an election. The full results of the second ballot for National Bishop can be viewed here.

In her address following the announcement, Bishop Johnson thanked delegates for trusting her with the call to National Bishop. “Four years ago you honoured me with this election,” she said, “and I feel just as honoured today.”

Bishop Johnson acknowledged the support she receives from colleagues, the conference of bishops, church partners and others throughout the church, and shared with delegates that she knows she doesn’t, “work in a vacuum.”

“I covet your prayers,” she said, “and I thank you very much for the trust you have placed in me.”

Bishop Johnson is the fourth bishop to serve the ELCIC. This will be her second four-year term as National Bishop. She was first elected in 2007.


KAIROS Blanket Exercise


The historic relationship between Europeans and the Indigenous nations was explored and dramatized Friday afternoon at the ELCIC Biennial Convention.

About 45 people took active part in The Blanket Exercise, led by Ed Bianchi from KAIROS, while remaining delegates and visitors observed and listened to the narrative.

The exercise uses a number of blankets to represent the land we now know as Canada, and participants are cast as either Indigenous People or the Europeans. As the script recounting the relationship between the two groups is read, participants move about the blankets. Blankets are folded or removed to represent the shifting of control over the land and participants are removed from the exercise as the number of Indigenous People declines and the balance of power shifts.

The script recounts the many injustices and ongoing challenges that have characterized the relationship between Indigenous People and European, then Canadian, governments and other institutions, including religious ones.

The goal of the exercise, which has been used since 1996, is to engage participants in that historical relationship and the colonization of Canada, as well as to improve understanding of our shared history. It is one of five exercises included in an educational resource called In Peace and Friendship, developed by KAIROS in response to those whose faith or conscience compels them to understand more deeply the struggles of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. The resource assumes that if a new relationship is to be forged with Aboriginal peoples in Canada, it will require leadership not simply from governments but from ordinary Canadians who believe in justice and equality for Aboriginal peoples.

Convention delegates and visitors will each bring a copy of In Peace and Friendship back to their home congregations to help continue the conversation and experience started this afternoon.

A photo gallery from the afternoon forum can be viewed here.


CLWR and ELCIC Share a Rich History; Delegates Hear Evidence of Effective Partnerships

ELCIC delegates heard on Friday how the church is helping to empowering people and change lives forever—from Africa and Asia to Latin and Central America—through its relationship with Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR). During his presentation at the 13th Biennial National Convention of the ELCIC, Robert Granke, executive director of CLWR, discussed the long relationship between the church and CLWR—one of Canada’s oldest relief and development agencies. It’s a relationship that spans more than 25 years and began with the ELCIC’s predecessor bodies in Canada.

CLWR and the ELCIC share a rich history, but it’s in the recent biennium that the two organizations have begun to hit their stride, finding new ways of doing service together, said Granke, referring to a 2009 Memorandum of Understanding between CLWR and the ELCIC that strengthened their partnership and streamlined resource generation for both emergency appeals and long-term development projects.

Some of those projects are now well-established and reaping benefits for the local communities. With the ELCIC’s support, CLWR launched a program in India that has literally trained thousands of community leaders. “These leaders, many of whom are women, are making a real difference in their villages and building a stronger future for their children and families,” Granke said. “In Ethiopia, Zambia and Mozambique, CLWR has improved the security of families and communities in access to food and water, essential to life and well being. The incidence of water born disease has been minimized and instead of women spending many hours a day fetching water, they are able to focus on the needs of children and communities, because wells with clean potable water have been provided right near their homes.”

Granke also explained how local ELCIC congregations play a key role in delivering effective and affordable relief and development to many regions of the world. CLWR works in a cost-effective manner and local support at a congregational level—assembling We Care kits, making quilts and donating other essential supplies—assists CLWR in providing aid and still maintain reasonable costs.

“As I travel, I often hear directly from beneficiaries,” he said. “They are so grateful and many times I hear a request to offer our thanks back to those of you who support our work, so generously. Thank you!”


Human Sexuality Social Statement Approved After Passionate Debate

Following more than two hours of debate, delegates of the 2011 ELCIC National Convention approved a Social Statement on Human Sexuality. The results came late in a day and were done by written ballot, with 213 votes in favour of the motion and 134 against.

The document is the result of a four-year process involving: a study guide, a church-wide feedback process, a draft statement that allowed for further feedback opportunities, and the statement. The statement analyzes the current social problem, provides theological and ethical foundations, and applies insights from the first two sections to the contemporary situation.

Convention delegates first considered the statement Thursday evening during a Committee of the Whole session. The Human Sexuality Task Force introduced the 14-page report and responded to questions and comments from delegates. (read the full story)

The ELCIC Social Statement on Human Sexuality is available online.


Election for Secretary

Delegates returned from lunch and proceeded to vote for Secretary of the church. The voting process for Secretary is an ecclesiastical balloting process.

The results were provided following the afternoon break. No election was declared. The results are available here.

A second ballot for Secretary took place just before 4:00 p.m. Results were presented to delegates just before the dinner break. There was no election on the second ballot for Secretary. The top four names that received the most votes on this ballot will constitute the third ballot for Secretary. The results from the second ballot can be viewed here.


ELCIC Receives Greetings from South of the Border

Representing the ELCIC’s “neighbours to the south,” Rev. Don McCoid of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) called the ELCIC a model for witness in the world. The executive for ecumenical and inter-religious relations, Rev. McCoid brought greetings on behalf of ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson.

“It is a pleasure to continue to witness as neighbours. I am grateful for the ways in which we look at the challenges before our churches, and you are an example in the way in which you approach things,” Rev. McCoid said. “Earlier this month, I was at the Mennonite Church USA Assembly, and they cited the ELCIC and the studies you’ve done together. Your work with First Nations is an example for us as well. You have so many ways in which you touch the people of the world.

“Your friends south of the border are grateful for the opportunity to be partners in the communion of churches,” he continued. “I have been praying for you and continue to do so and ask for your prayers for the ELCA as we approach the future together.”


LCBI President Addresses Delegates

Former Saskatchewan Synod assistant to the bishop, Rev. Roger Haugen, addressed convention delegates, friends, and colleagues in his new role: president of Lutheran Collegiate Bible Institute (LCBI) in Outlook, SK. Rev. Haugen spoke of the mandate and mission of LCBI, one of two high schools supported by the ELCIC.

“We live in a time when society needs leaders, and we seek to create leaders for our church and community,” Rev. Haugen said. “In fact, we have an inordinate number of graduates in leadership positions in our church.

“At LCBI we work at nurturing the people that God created them to be. We also teach students who don’t know what it means to be Lutheran and share with them what we hold so very dear.”

Rev. Haugen went to LCBI last October after six years with the Saskatchewan Synod Office of the ELCIC. Rev. Haugen has a long history with LCBI and is an alumnus of the school. He has also served on staff previously in the academic department.

LCBI has been a school of the ELCIC since 1916 and is a co-ed residential school offering grades 10–12. LCBI began in 1911 and is celebrating 100 years of Lutheran education.

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