Day two of the 15th Biennial National Convention of the ELCIC continued at Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.
View the convention agenda here.
By an overwhelming majority, delegates to the National Convention embraced the ELCIC Reformation Challenge in honour of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation.
Over the next three years, individuals, congregations, specialized ministries and synods will challenge themselves to:
- 500 new refugee sponsorships
- 500 new bursaries for students in schools of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
- 500,000 trees to be planted in Canada and around the world
- $500,000 to be raised for The Lutheran World Federation Endowment Fund
Discussion on the motion before the vote indicated that delegates were already preparing to take up the challenge as they began to discuss what needed to be done to sponsor refugees, plant trees and raise the needed funds for bursaries and the endowment.
They talked about inviting others in their communities to join in sponsorships and planting trees by building on work that they were already doing together and other creative ways to challenge others.
Friday morning, convention delegates receive greetings from Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Reflecting on the theme of convention, Liberated by God’s Grace, Hiltz shared that Anglicans are committed to walking together to advance the reality of living as those who are liberated by God’s grace and to taking a stand together to tell the world that Creation, Human Beings, and Salvation are “Not For Sale”.
He also spoke of the important role the ELCIC plays in the broader church, “you are a church with a view to the future, not just the past”.
The Archbishop reflected on the years that have passed since the ELCIC and ACC entered into a relationship of Full Communion, recalling the day in Waterloo when Anglican Primate Michael Peers and ELCIC Bishop Telmor Sartison danced around the arena as thousands who were gathered in worship sang, “We Are Marching in the Light of God”.
With 2016 marking the 15th anniversary of the Waterloo Declaration, Archbishop Hiltz noted the continuing commitment to express, strengthen, and enable common life, witness and service, to the Glory of God, and in service to the world.
“Full Communion blossoms because of relationships,” between individuals, parishes, diocese and synods, he said.
Hiltz spoke of the relationship between ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson and himself as an illustration of what this can look like, noting how it has moved beyond polite professional courtesy and is instead marked by personal friendship; deep, weekly conversation; mutual respect; and mutual support and encouragement.
As the Primate’s greetings came to a close, the convention delegates spontaneously broke into song singing, “We are Marching in the Light of God”.
Liberated by God’s grace—the theme of the 15th Biennial National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC)—has the potential to drive the spirit of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, Dr. Marie Wilson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) told convention delegates on Friday, July 10.
One of three commissioners on the TRC along with chair Murray Sinclair and Wilton Littlechild, Wilson invited Lutherans to continue work towards reconciliation by following the example of Indian residential school survivors.
“I think the liberation offered by God’s grace at this time in our country’s history is not our own,” she said.
“It is the liberation of grace manifested as courage and resilience in the survivors of the residential schools,” who fought through the courts to establish the TRC “in the face of a resistance from Canada and from some of the churches who did not want these truths to be so widely told and so widely known.”
In her presentation to delegates, Wilson described the work and significance of the TRC, its recommendations and the road toward reconciliation, while touching upon more spiritual aspects of the process.
Early on in her presentation, she praised the ELCIC for its “extraordinary” engagement with the TRC, despite its lack of legal obligation to do so.
“You’re not one of the parties to the settlement agreement,” Wilson said—referring to the legal settlement between survivors, the federal government and churches (Roman Catholic, Anglican, United, and Presbyterian) who ran the residential schools that mandated the creation of the TRC. (read the full story)
On the third ballot for National Bishop, the Rev. Susan C. Johnson was re-elected by delegates at the 15th Biennial National Convention for a third four-year term.
In her acceptance of the call to a third term, Bishop Johnson thanked delegates for asking her to serve for another term. “I want you to know how much I love God and how much I love this church,” she said. “I promise you that I will faithfully serve to the best of my ability.”
In particular, Bishop Johnson lifted up the support of her parents, Rev. Don and Lois Johnson, who were in attendance at convention.
“I want to thank them for their unfailing love and support, and for the way they have continued to model discipleship,” she said.
“I look forward with hope for the next few years,” concluded Bishop Johnson, “because hope does not disappoint.”
Bishop Johnson is the fourth bishop to serve the ELCIC. This will be her third four-year term as National Bishop. She was first elected in 2007.
The Reformation sparked by Martin Luther in 1517 was a movement for
liberation with lessons echoing through to the present day, church
scholars argued in a Bible study at the 15th National Convention of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).
The Rev. Dr. Allen Jorgenson, assistant dean and associate professor of
systematic theology at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, and the Rev. Dr.
Gordon Jensen, William Hordern chair of theology and dean of studies at
the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, facilitated the study on
the afternoon of Friday, July 10.
“Liberation—we often take it for granted and don’t think much about it,”
Rev. Jorgenson began. “But for those who are oppressed, it means
“Christianity should be, although it hasn’t always been, about liberation and freedom,” he added.
Jorgenson described the Reformation as an attempt by Luther to restore the liberating qualities of the faith.
Luther’s efforts at reform flowed from his responsibilities as a
professor of theology who felt the need to speak out when he believed
the prevailing theology was in error, and from his duties as a
“The Reformation was about God liberating people from enslaving
religiosity … It was about liberating people from oppressions so that
people could be liberating people and each other,” Jorgenson said. (read the full story)
Friday afternoon, the convention received the report from ELCIC Group Services Inc. (GSI), presented by Jackie Dojack, chair of the board, and Lisa Thiesse, executive director. Included in this was an overview of the Employee Pension and Benefits Plans, and a reminder of the vision of GSI which states, “GSI supports plan members in leading healthy lives and achieving financial security”.
Information was also shared on GSI’s new focus on wellness for all participating in the Pension and Benefits Plans. Delegates heard that the Wellness Fair sponsored by GSI at this Convention received a “happy and positive response” from plan members.
Much more information about the Pension and Benefits Plans, as well as many informative and supportive resources, can be found on GSI’s refreshed website: http://www.elcicgsi.ca/.