Bishop Allan Grundahl of the Saskatchewan Synod of the ELCIC and Roberto Stein, Executive Secretary of IELU shake hands.
In keeping with the Province of Saskatchewan's reputation for leadership and innovation, the Saskatchewan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) has entered into a Companion Synod Program with the Iglesia Evangelica Luterana Unida (IELU), a partner Lutheran church in Argentina, to strengthen shared mission. Rev. Allan Grundahl, Bishop of the Saskatchewan Synod, and Mr. Roberto Stein, Executive Secretary of IELU, signed the partnership commitment at the ELCIC's Global Mission Event, July 29th in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Creating a new culture or climate for grassroots involvement in mission is a top priority of the Argentine church. Under the leadership of Mr. Stein, the Argentine church has been very deliberate in its efforts to excite and expand the vision of members for the larger work of their church. The convening of a special church-wide meeting for lay people led by lay people was an attempt to move beyond the more common meetings of clergy and laity "where clergy usually talk and the lay people usually listen," Mr. Stein says. Congregations increasingly are thinking about the needs of society and how they might meet these needs.
The development of the Companion Synod Program affirms a new model for re-energizing mission in the church which emphasizes relationships or "companionship." For example, IELU wants more volunteers from Canada, not money which has so often been the focus of mission. While IELU is comprised of only 30 congregations with some 6,000 members, outreach sees them supporting a system of schools serving more than 7,000 young people.
Bishop Grundahl anticipates that the Synod Council will appoint a three-member committee to form the counterpart to an Argentine commission which directs Companion Synod activities there. Bryan Tastad, a member of Augustana Lutheran Church, Saskatoon, who has recently returned from Argentina with his wife Noreen Donald and their family after a six-month Volunteer in Mission (VIM) assignment in Argentina has already agreed to facilitate timely and effective engagement between the two churches.
Saskatchewan Mission event participants and ELCIC executive look on as Companion Synod agreement is signed
For further information, please contact:
Rev. Mark Koenker
ELCIC Mission Communication Coordinator