Saskatoon, 14 July 2011 -- More than 325 delegates and over 150 visitors joined their voices and hearts in worship to open the 13th Biennial National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) on Thursday, July 14 at TCU Place, Saskatoon, SK.
ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson preached at the opening worship service.
In her sermon, Bishop Johnson reflected on the convention theme Covenant People: In Mission for Others and reminded delegates that they are all, "joined to God in the covenant of baptism, and through God we are joined to each other and called to live our lives as disciples of Jesus."
Delegates were reminded of the promises made through the covenant of baptism which was affirmed at the beginning of the opening worship service. The promises include: to live among God’s faithful people; to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper; to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed; to serve all people, following the example of Jesus; and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.
Bishop Johnson asked delegates to reflect on how they were doing in living out these promises. "How are you doing in continuing to deepen your discipleship and your relationship with God?" she continued.
During her travels and in conversations across the church, Bishop Johnson said she was sensing that some are experiencing a spiritual hunger that is being met from very different sources.
"We have been so influenced by our consumer-driven culture that we stuff ourselves with possessions, and positions, and status, rather than turning to the pure spiritual milk that will sate our hunger," she said.
"Christianity isn’t an institution, but rather a movement whose missionary focus is always directed outward into the world," she said. "The things that we do within our communities of faith bear significance only insomuch as they serve and support that outward movement."
Bishop Johnson reiterated a call to spiritual renewal that she has been sharing across the church for several years and reminded those gathered at the opening worship service of the call to follow Jesus. "I feel very strongly that God is calling us to a deeper and more spirited discipleship and to a closer daily walk with our Lord," she said.
Outlining a new initiative titled the Call to Spiritual Renewal, Bishop Johnson offered a list of seven actions to assist in deepening discipleship, including: Pray, Read, Worship, Study, Serve, Give, Tell.
"I know it’s not easy," she shared. "But take heart. Take heart in the fact that the disciples had moments of doubt, misunderstanding and abject failure – and they had Jesus with them in the flesh."
"Jesus is calling," she concluded. "Let us joyfully follow."
Opening worship closed with Bishop Johnson declaring the church-wide assembly in session.
The altar used for worship and present throughout convention was built from wood reclaimed from prairie grain elevators by local artist David Kenyon Fast. Learn more about this project here: grainelevatoraltar.blogspot.com.
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 .