For three days in July, delegates from across the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) came together at the University of Regina, in Regina, Saskatchewan, for the 2019 ELCIC National Convention.
The feature article in this issue of Canada Lutheran explores the convention in greater detail but I want to say something about the sheer amount of work we were able to get through at convention. Delegates came to convention prepared. By the end of the business session at noon on Saturday, we had worked our way through 22 motions brought to convention by National Church Council and 11 motions brought forward by Reference and Council. Thank you for your hard work!
We also spent time exploring the theme, Called to Journey Together: The Ministry of Reconciliation in three directions: our need, in the face of the climate crisis, to be reconciled to creation; our desire, in the face of increased intolerance, to strengthen relations with people of other religions; and our commitment to continue to journey on the path of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
We were blessed to have local presenters on each of these topics. Their expertise and personal experience gave us important insight and learnings, and gave further context to the work of convention.
As I reflect on convention, what resonates with me most deeply is how we engaged in reconciliation. It was not just in the presentations and motions, but in the ways we were with each other. We showed our commitment to creating safe spaces. Our dialogue was respectful. We have much room to learn and grow but we are doing this with love, committed to the journey ahead.
For me, one of these moments included the smudging ceremony that took place Friday morning before worship. Betty Krohn and Doreen Topp from the Indigenous Christian Fellowship led us through this call to worship as they explained how smudging invites people to join the sacred space and activity of praying. We gathered in a circle outside the gymnasium where the convention was being held, and for those moments were brought out of business mode, both physically and spiritually. Time slowed down and there was space for each person to participate.
Reconciliation isn’t just about something we do and are committed to, it is something we are and that we are becoming.
It has truly been an honour to see this evolve in the 12 years I have been called to the role of National Bishop. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude and thanksgiving to have been re-elected at this convention for another term. I respect the need of convention to go through a full process and I honour that. I know that together we will move forward and I feel your support. And, I ask for your ongoing prayers.
As I have told you before—I love God, I love this church and I love you. I’m proud of what we do and what we stand for! We pray fervently, we work for justice passionately, we face challenges head on, and we embrace the future with hope. We give thanks to God for the grace we have received and strive to share that grace with the world in great need. Soli Deo Gloria! To God alone the glory!
P.S. Another thing I shared at convention that I’m very excited about is a new four-year emphasis on Living our Faith, as together we will pray, read, worship and love. Starting this September, I’m inviting you into a year of prayer. As a whole church, I want us to learn about prayer, grow in our experience of prayer and deepen our regular practice. Congregational leaders will be receiving a letter from me very shortly, and be sure to check out elcic.ca/LivingourFaith and social media for updates, weekly encouragements and monthly pieces that are more in depth. I would love us to be known as the church that really knows how to pray!
National Bishop Susan Johnson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada