National Bishop Raymond Schultz

Rev Raymond Schultz, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada writes a regular column for each issue of Canada Lutheran.

ELCIC congregations are welcome to republish this material in their church publications. Please acknowledge its original publication by including the credit line:

Canada Lutheran, April/May 2004

Further Reading

More of Bishop Ray's writing can be found in From the Bishop including texts from sermons and addresses.

National Bishop's Turn

In Mission "for" Others

[God] says, "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." (Isaiah 49:6)

From our very origins, we have been a people called by God, not to attend only to our own spiritual needs, but to bring blessing to the entire world. Isaiah was telling Israel that God expected it not to be people of God only for their own nation's sake, but for the sake of the Gentiles as well.

Many Canadian Lutherans, influenced by the Protestant movement in North America, have gone even farther in this direction. They have not only kept the church, as a community, to itself, but have made their individual desires take precedence over even the church. It appears that many members belong to church only in order to receive something strictly for themselves.

The God to whom the prophets witnessed always challenged such self-centred thinking. All people are God's creation and stewardship of the mysteries of God is always to be a gift to all humanity.

It is clear that Jesus often referred to Isaiah's writings to explain his own actions in this regard. So this church, in faithfulness to its Lord, has declared itself to be "a church in mission for others." Not a church in mission to others, but for others. This is for others' sake, not ours.

To be a church in mission for others is the vision statement adopted by National Church Council as the key to our strategic direction in the national arena. The vision comes out of the last biennial convention and locates us squarely in the spirit of the Evangelical Declaration. In this spirit, we, in the national church will:

  1. Be a public voice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada speaking to the compelling questions and issues facing our global community;
  2. Share our energy and gifts as a church to re-energize the ecumenical movement in Canada and internationally;
  3. Identify and raise up an apostolic model of leadership.

Each synod and each congregation needs to adopt its own strategic directions to accomplish this vision. I am committing to you what the national church will do.

To assist pastors and congregations with this task, the bishops have sent a copy of Kelly A. Fryer's book, Reclaiming the "L" Word to each active pastor in this church, asking that the book be studied in the congregation or specialized ministry. Pastor Fryer writes:

"The church doesn't exist to meet my needs. It never did. Never will… The church may be the only organization on the planet that exists entirely for the sake of those people who don't belong to it yet." (pg. 99, 100)

Amen!

Bishop Raymond Schultz

Canada Lutheran, April/May 2004