New Lutheran initiatives follow theme of ‘full serve’

Published December 1, 2006

In a potpourri of summer and fall events across the country, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) continues to model a church in “Mission for Others” (the denomination’s theme).

In the first of two major unifying gatherings, Making All Things New was the second joint Lutheran-Anglican National Worship Conference held in Regina, July 12-15. The event was sold-out and included topnotch keynote speakers, Rev. John Bell and Rev. Richard Leggett. While there was the study of liturgies with numerous workshops, the lively presence of music was predominant, and in particular the “global concerto” – an exhilarating evening of song at Knox Metropolitan United Church.

In terms of sheer numbers, the second highlight was the 2006 Canadian Lutheran Youth Gathering in Winnipeg, Aug. 17-20. Entitled “Full Serve,” more than 1,200 youth were challenged by multi-media presentations, drama troupe skits and addresses by Rev. Kathy Martin, keynote speaker, to experience what service to others really looks like. They learned that service is not an “event,” but a “lifestyle.”

“It means,” said Jeff Arndt of Zion Lutheran Youth in North Battleford, Sask., “that we all have different gifts in different areas which, when used for others, can bring the Gospel into the world. Serving together is our greatest (gift), which brings good news to a hungry world. Only together are we fully able to serve.” On the other hand, “self-serve is quick and immediately gratifying,” observed Raymond Schultz, national bishop of the ELCIC, “but it neglects the unseen parts of your car and it deprives service workers of income.

“Only ‘full serve’ is the way of Christ!” he concluded.

All five regional synods across the country had assemblies this past summer, with two of them electing new bishops: Rev. Ronald B. Mayan, bishop of Alberta and the Territories and Rev. Elaine Sauer, bishop of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario Synod. With the election of Bishop Sauer, two of the five synodical bishops are women.

With declining enrollment and escalating deficits at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, the Eastern Synod in convention approved an increase of $100,000 to the school, as well as a $50,000 interest-free loan. In ratifying the budget for 2007-08, Eastern Synod Bishop Michael Pryse described the seminary as “part of the marrow and DNA of our church.”

Effective Aug. 1, the Department of National Defense promoted Rev. Stanley Johnstone, clergy member of Eastern Synod, ELCIC, to the rank of brigadier-general and then appointed him chaplain general to the Canadian Forces. It is the first appointment of a Lutheran pastor to such a position, heading some 300 regular and reserve chaplains, both Protestant and Roman Catholic as well as one Muslim Imam.

The ELCIC and the Anglican Church of Canada also invited congregations across the country to designate Sunday, Nov. 12, for celebrations to highlight the five-year anniversary of full communion between the two denominations. To that end, the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission developed four brochures about Lutherans and Anglicans to help answer questions about what it means to be “In Full Communion.” These resources can also be used as bulletin inserts and are available on both denominational Web sites.

Rev. Peter Mikelic pastors Epiphany Lutheran church, Toronto, and writes for various church and secular publications. His views do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of the ELCIC.


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