Saskatoon, 15 July 2011 -- ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson encouraged delegates to let the Holy Spirit lead them through the coming days of convention as she delivered her Report of the National Bishop to delegates, special guests and visitors attending the 13th Biennial National Convention taking place July 14–17 at TCU Place in Saskatoon, SK.
"We have several challenging days of work ahead of us," said Bishop Johnson. "What I ask is that we treat each other with Christian love, as faithful followers of Jesus, who love this church. This is my hope and my prayer for our church as we enter into these days of convention."
The Bishop’s report outlined much progress over the past four years in working to be a church In Mission for Others, particularly in light of the 60th anniversary of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Through its support of The Lutheran World Federation and Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR), the ELCIC helps care for more than 500,000 refugees on a daily basis.
This past April, the National Bishop saw this work first-hand when she travelled to Ethiopia’s Al Barre refugee camp, home to some 13,000 Somalis. "The work that we are doing in the areas of water, environment and livelihood activity is truly amazing," she said. "The work is professional, the workers are passionate, but the job doesn’t end there. People can’t stay in refugee camps forever. They need to be resettled in a new land, reintegrated into the local community or repatriated into their original homeland."
Bishop Johnson spoke to the need for continued refugee sponsorship through CLWR and offered some inspiring stories of ELCIC congregations that have made a commitment to welcoming refugees into their communities. "Consider how you can participate in this very concrete way of being a church In Mission for Others," she said.
Looking to the future, the Bishop discussed several new initiatives being launched at convention, including the church’s Call to Spiritual Renewal. Over the past few years, Bishop Johnson has been encouraging members to strive for a deeper discipleship, which includes regular attendance at worship, daily prayer and scripture reading, yearly involvement in a program of study, regular service to the community, regular and proportional giving, and commitment to sharing the good news with those around us. "I feel strongly that God is calling us to a closer daily walk with our Lord," she said. "And I invite each of you to participate in this Call to Spiritual Renewal."
In addition to Spiritual Renewal, Bishop Johnson called delegates to commit to the inaugural Praise Appeal. Part of the ELCIC’s Financial Resource Generation Strategy, this church-wide appeal offers the opportunity to highlight different aspects of church ministry. This year the Praise Appeal will give thanks for the ministry of women in the church, looking back on the ministry of Evangelical Lutheran Women Inc. and looking forward to the new forms this ministry may take.
"If you haven’t organized a Praise Appeal Sunday yet this year, I urge you to do so and support the work of the wider church," Bishop Johnson said. "Thank you for all of your support and encouragement, and your partnership in ministry. It is an honour and a privilege to serve as your National Bishop."
Over 500 Lutherans and special guests are meeting in Saskatoon at the ELCIC's 13th National Convention. Full agenda details and a live link to the proceeding are available on the National Convention website: www.elcic.ca/In-Convention/2011-Saskatoon.
(provided by ELCIC National Office www.elcic.ca)