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June 25, 2009

ELCIC National Convention Commences; Exuberant Opening Worship Sets Tone for the Rest of Convention

Bold singing, droplets of water, and parasols with chiming bangles provided a joy-filled levity to opening worship at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s (ELCIC) Twelfth Biennial National Convention taking place June 25-28 at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver.

ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson and Bishops from each of the five Synods processed among worshippers with cedar branches sprinkling water on delegates and visitors as a celebration of Baptism. The parasols, decorative in nature, drew focus to the altar, the font and the ambo, and also offered a frame to the worship space in the UBC War Memorial Gymnasium. Later in worship the parasols would serve as stations for the Eucharist.

The convention choir, comprised of volunteering delegates and visitors, was directed by Lorraine Reinhardt from Augustana, Vancouver. The group ably provided special music and leadership in singing to the gathering. Energetic piano and cello music accompanied the assembly.

Bishop Johnson preached at opening worship and reflected on the church as family with all the related joys, sorrows, hopes and tensions that families carry with them. Preaching on the Gospel of Mark 10:35-45, the Bishop reflected on the story of the disciples James and John who asked to sit at the right and left hands of Jesus.

“James and John were asking for personal recognition,” she says, “It is a big temptation to serve ones self rather than God. We need to be recovering one day at a time from the human condition of self serving.” That self serving attitude created animosity among the disciples and caused jealousy and envy. Noting that God was able to use James and John, who were flawed and imperfect people, the Bishop declared that God can use us too. “We are called to serve God by serving others.”

Also highlighting the festive service was the presence of Martin Luther’s side-kick, “Philipp Melanchthon”, delightfully portrayed by Rev. Richard Hergesheimer from First Lutheran, Vancouver. Respectfully interrupting the service from time to time, “Melanchthon” would read a section of the Augsburg Confession, related to the portion of the worship service being celebrated. Melanchthon, who died in 1560, was the author of the Augsburg Confession, which is foundational to the Lutheran Church.

The exuberant opening worship set the tone for the rest of the convention to fulfill its thoughtful theme, “In Mission for Others – Signs of Hope”.

Over 400 Lutherans are meeting in Vancouver at the ELCIC's National Convention. Full agenda details and a live link to the proceeding are available on the National Convention website: http://elcic.ca/In-Convention/2009-Vancouver/default.cfm

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada's largest Lutheran denomination with 162,100 baptized members in 611 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

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