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, September 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

Lutheranism as Gift

This column concludes my series of three on the strategic directions adopted by the national church, which are to:

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

Lutheranism is a gift we bring to the rest of the Christian community. It is not a turf to be defended or a territory to be guarded, but a dynamic to be passed on to others. We are a church body that continues in the catholic tradition but acts out of the evangelical freedom of the Reformation. The gospel is central to our understanding of scripture, the structuring of our institution and our practice of ministry. Justification by grace gives our pastoral ministry a healing dimension. Our lives therefore are not driven by guilt and anxiety but are called forward by a sense of freedom and gratitude.

Sharing our gifts with others is a calling from God. By doing so, we serve the unity of the gospel, but we also benefit from the expanded relationships. One of the reasons we ask members to remit funds to the Global Hunger and Development Appeal (GHDA) rather than directly to Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) is so that we can use some of the funds to work ecumenically in Canada. The benefits far outweigh the number of dollars we put in. The bulk of the funding still goes to international work done on our behalf by CLWR.

Our full communion relationship with the Anglican Church of Canada has developed beyond our hopes. Lapsed initiatives in conversation with the United, Presbyterian and Christian Reformed churches in Canada have been restarted. In 1999, we celebrated the ending of centuries-old mutual condemnations by the Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches.

Last summer we had a once-in-a-lifetime experience of the Lutheran World Federation global village. The missions begun over a century ago south of the equator have become indigenous and have developed their own cultural expressions of the gospel. CLWR benefits too, working through the worldwide network.

In 1997 we adopted the commitment that we would not do alone what we could better do in partnership with others.

Moreover, Canada is more than a country of Christian religions. The world's major religions all exist as large communities of activity in this country. We share more in common with them than we do with secular materialists who still claim Christian affiliation on their census forms.

This listing represents much more work than we have the resources to address. Nevertheless, it is one of our strategic directions and the more support we receive from congregations through the synods, the more faithful we can be to this calling.

Bishop Raymond Schultz

Canada Lutheran, September 2004