Some people say that they love the church very much, but not enough to attend one of its conventions. To all the convention sceptics out there: the national assembly of the ELCIC 2017 in Winnipeg was a good, spirit-filled and meaningful event.
It was the first assembly after the completion of the restructuring process of the ELCIC. After the convention in 2019 future national conventions will be held only tri-annually. The total number of delegates is limited to 150 (80 lay, 10 youth, 60 clergy) with their costs covered by the synods. Each synod is allocated a number of delegates based on the baptized membership of each Synod, who have to be nominated at the congregational level and then be elected at Synod conventions.
Our Bay Area was well represented. Of the total of 58 Eastern Synod delegates, 6 came from local congregations in and around Hamilton: Judy Lindeman (Transfiguration), Gail Bennie (Faith, Hamilton), Thomas Mertz (St. John’s), Julia Hilgendag (youth delegate, Faith, Brantford) Ben Cameron (youth delegate, Holy Cross) and Dorothy Emmerson (Faith, Brantford).
The theme of the National convention was “Liberated by God’s Grace” consistent with the theme of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation.
Worship always plays an important role in the life of any ELCIC convention. The planning committee succeeded in winning the Rev. Dr. Willard Metzger, General Secretary of the Mennonite Church Canada and Right Rev. Jordan Cantwell, Moderator of the United Church of Canada, as guest preachers. Their messages to the assembly: Our liberation by God’s grace restores us to God’s purposes and calls for our loving action in the world.
The keynote address was given by LWF President, Rev. Dr. Munib Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. As always, his talk was very moving and inspiring.
The assembly passed an ELCIC Statement to Muslims in Canada “challenging all members and congregations of the ELCIC to develop respectful, meaningful and mutual relationships with Muslims.” The ELCIC encourages use of the 2017 resource “Encountering People of Other Faiths: Interfaith Guidelines” with the belief that respectful interfaith dialogue can lead to deeper understanding of our own faith.
An ecumenical panel of church leaders from the large denominations in Canada discussed the significance of the Reformation Commemoration. They acknowledged the ongoing transformation of the church landscape and stressed the importance of churches working together, by each contributing their rich tradition and theological wisdom. Our world needs to continuously hear of God’s grace.
Kaila Johnston – Research Coordinator of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba gave a presentation of the work of her organization and shared the link to their public archive (http://nctr.ca/map.php) as a very helpful resource for congregations.
On the business end of the convention, Sheila Hamilton was elected for another term as vice-president of the national church council. Our Lutheran Schools reported on their outstanding ministry (https://www.luthercollege.edu/high-school). Robert Granke, Executive Director of CLWR announced his retirement later this year.
You can listen to all of the sermons and talks given at Convention by going to elcic.ca, What We Do, National Convention, Daily Highlights. I’m sure you will find them worth listening to.
The bulletin of reports for the convention is available as pdf-file on the ELCIC website (http://www.elcic.ca/)
Reported by Dorothy Emmerson, Thomas Mertz, Judy Lindeman, and Gail Bennie