Lutheran national meeting wraps up full agenda

More than 500 members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) gathered in Saskatoon, Sask., July 14 to 17, for its 13th biennial National Convention. Meeting under the theme “Covenant People: In Mission for Others,” delegates passed a variety of motions, including several relating to human sexuality and structural renewal.

ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson preaches at the National Convention closing service, July 17. TRINA GALLOP / ELCIC COMMUNICATIONS
ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson preaches at the National Convention closing service, July 17. TRINA GALLOP / ELCIC COMMUNICATIONS

The Anglican Church of Canada, full communion partner of the ELCIC, supported the meeting. The Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, addressed convention and presided at closing worship. General Synod staff supported online communications.

Human sexuality was one of the most highly anticipated and vigorously debated subjects at National Convention. Delegates first approved a social statement on human sexuality, the result of a four-year consultation and drafting process. The statement analyzes the current social situation, provides theological and ethical foundations, and applies insights from the first two sections to the contemporary situation.

Delegates then passed three motions related to the statement: an Affirmation Concerning the Unity of the Church; a policy statement allowing ministers to preside at or bless legal marriages, including those between same-sex couples, according to the laws of the province; and a policy paving the way for the ordination and installation of gay and lesbian pastors.

Delegates also approved, in principle, recommendations from the Structural Renewal Task Force. Among other things, the task force recommended that the ELCIC be re-organized into three synods; that conventions of the national church and regional synods be held triennially; and that National Conventions be smaller in size. The ELCIC’s National Church Council will now consider next steps and which motions to bring to synod conventions in 2012.

Several elections were held. National Bishop Susan Johnson was re-elected to a second four-year term, and new members were elected to the National Church Council and ELCIC Group Services Inc.

Indigenous rights were a key theme. Ed Bianchi, Indigenous Rights Program Coordinator for KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, led an interactive “blanket exercise,” which educated delegates about Indigenous history. Delegates also passed a motion that encouraged right relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

National Convention also welcomed several guests, including Rev. Dr. Willard Metzger, General Secretary of Mennonite Church Canada, who spoke about the recent apology made by the Lutheran World Federation to Mennonites for past persecutions. Delegates also welcomed Saskatoon Tribal Chief Felix Thomas; the Rev. Don McCoid, Executive for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and others.

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