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December 2, 2010

Structural Renewal Task Force Shares Highlights on Feedback from Online Survey and Synod Conventions

As the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) seeks to develop a framework for the church that is flexible, affordable and sustainable, a majority of participants who provided feedback on suggestions for structural renewal within the church feel it would be acceptable to reduce the number of synods and/or reduce the size of National Convention as a possible way of moving forward.

The feedback, which also includes detailed suggestions on ways to focus administrative costs in the church and areas where the National Church and Synods should be involved, comes following months of generating feedback from ELCIC members across the church.

Since spring of 2009, the ELCIC’s Structural Renewal Task Force has been engaging in dialogue with various expressions across the church about the need for structural renewal. Through participation at Synod Council meetings, Synod Conventions and an online survey, the task force has been obtaining information as they consider what kind of structure best suits the changing demands of the ELCIC’s ministry and outreach.

Since the close of the August 31,2010 deadline for the online survey component of their work, the Structural Renewal Task Force has been reviewing the feedback and compiling the data.

The survey provides a great deal of quantitative information, as well as many qualitative comments, says Sheila Hamilton, chair of the Structural Renewal Task Force. “Approximately 320 responses were received with good participation rates from all synods.”

“In the discussions at synod conventions and in the survey comments, it is clear that more support for ministry at the local/congregational expression of the church is strongly encouraged,” says Hamilton, who also notes that “Bishop Susan’s call for 'Spirited Discipleship' was enthusiastically embraced by many respondents.”

In a report from the Structural Renewal Task Force, suggestions to focus administrative costs include: Working cooperatively with other churches; Reducing the number of synods; Reducing the size of national convention; and Reducing the functions of the national office.

Survey feedback clearly identified that particular suggestions for focusing administrative costs would not be acceptable, including: Eliminating the national church; Eliminating all synods; Increasing functions of national church; and Reducing the size of synod conventions.

The survey summary identifies that a majority of respondents from every synod agree that reducing the number of synods and that reducing the size of national convention would be acceptable options.

The survey indicated eight areas where the National Church should be involved, including: Global mission; Pension and benefits; Ecumenical relationships; Relationships with international church bodies; Standards for rostered leaders; Canadian Lutheran World Relief; Public policy and advocacy; and Communication.

The task force is currently following up with Conference Deans, who will communicate the findings to their conferences. In March 2011, the Structural Renewal Task Force will present its recommendations to National Church Council (NCC). It is expected that NCC will present a proposal to National Convention in July 2011.

In February 2009, the officers of the National Church and all five synods met to look at the current challenges facing the ELCIC. They agreed that these challenges will become more severe in the next few years and that there is need for major changes to the organizational structure of the church. At the same time, the officers noted the need to increase work in the areas of evangelism, outreach and stewardship as the ELCIC lives out the call to be a church In Mission for Others. NCC heard these concerns and appointed a Structural Renewal Task Force.

Further information on the work of the Structural Renewal Task Force, along with a summary of the survey results, can be viewed online at: http://elcic.ca/Structural-Renewal/default.cfm

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada's largest Lutheran denomination with 152,500 baptized members in 607 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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