A NEWS RELEASE
From the Office of the Bishop
Winnipeg, April 9, 2002 (ELCIC) -- Some decisions made by delegates to the upcoming conventions of the synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) will be influenced by a renewed agreement entitled “ELCIC National and Synodical Responsibilities.” The agreement contains revisions suggested by their officers at an October 2001 National/Synodical Consultation. It affirms action taken at the 1995 Winnipeg National Convention (NC 95-11) and was put in place by the ELCIC’s National Church Council at its March 14-16, 2002, meeting in Winnipeg.
The ELCIC’s two smallest synods will be the first to work with the revised agreement. The Manitoba/Northwestern Ontario Synod meets in convention in Winnipeg, April 18 to 21, with the British Columbia Synod’s convention meeting in Vancouver one week later, April 25 to 28. A reminder of the relationship between and responsibilities of the national church and its synods will be highlighted when National Bishop Raymond Schultz speaks to each synod convention on behalf of the ELCIC.
“This is an interim situation to match our means,” says National Bishop Raymond Schultz. “This buys us some time, but we need to develop something else in the future.” He notes that the agreement clearly indicates that the national church has the responsibility “to nurture the identity, unity and vision of the ELCIC.”
The agreement clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the national church and its synods. The national church structure serves and relates to synods and to structures beyond the ELCIC. Synodical structures relate to the congregations and to the national church structure.
In addition to outlining the primary responsibilities for decision-making of the national church and the synods, the agreement discusses areas where the responsibilities of the national church and the synods come together.
The national church has responsibilities to facilitate communication, consultation and co-operative programming among synods. Some examples given are the conference of bishops, relationships with synod councils, communication to synod conventions, the Rasmus database, and publications. It is also to provide national support, where agreed, in areas of synod responsibility which currently include youth ministry, stewardship, the Church Extension and Capital Fund, and seminary education.
For their part, each of the synods co-operates and collaborates with the national church and other synods to nurture the identity, unity and vision of the ELCIC; to support the mission of the church; to coordinate common standards; to address common concerns; and to develop covenants for partnership in specific areas of mission.
The national church has primary responsibility for decision-making for policies and standards for rostered leaders; mission in the world; public policies for the church in society; development of stewardship resources; policies, standards and resources for worship; ecumenical and co-operative relationships with other churches; relationships with ELW, special interest conferences and other Lutheran organizations; pension and benefit programs; GHDA; and colleges and church schools.
In turn, the synods have primary responsibility for decision-making for theological education and leadership (seminaries, candidates, continuing education); addressing issues of church and society on the territory of the synod; resource development and fundraising; mission in Canada; establishing and supporting specialized ministries (e.g. camps, chaplaincies, outdoor ministries); and supporting existing congregations and leaders in mission and ministry (e.g. worship, learning, witness, service, support, youth).
“This is not the church we want,” says Bishop Schultz. “This is the church we have to settle for.”