It is now a couple months after our National Convention and I am feeling fantastic about the work we did in convention. We made major strides in each of the four areas of our strategic plan—Spirited Discipleship, Healthy Church, Compassionate Justice, and Effective Partnerships. We are indeed growing as a church In Mission for Others!
One of the things I am the most excited about is the ELCIC Reformation Challenge. In 2017 Lutherans around the world will be commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. We are using the theme Liberated by God’s Grace and three sub-themes: Salvation—Not for Sale, Human Beings—Not for Sale, and Creation—Not for Sale. There will be studies, worship liturgy and resources available, of course. In addition, as a church we decided that a major way that we would mark the anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation is through a large service project.
The goals are ambitious: sponsor 500 refugees, showing that indeed we are ready and willing to welcome the stranger; provide 500 new scholarships for students in the schools of our partner church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), supporting them in their mission to work towards peace and understanding through education; plant 500,000 trees in Canada, Ethiopia and the Holy Land demonstrating our commitment to care of creation; and raise $500,000 for the Endowment Fund of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) ensuring that this worldwide communion of churches of which we are a part has a sustainable future.
It’s going to take a lot to achieve these goals: creativity, commitment, hard work, time and talent and treasure. But through this challenge we can continue to grow as a church. Let’s begin by praying that God grants us the vision and commitment to fulfill these goals as a way of praising God and giving thanks for all the ways we have been blessed. Let’s find new ways of working in partnership. Work with a new church or community partner to sponsor a refugee family. Work with a local school or school board to raise funds for a school scholarship for the ELCJHL. Find a local environmental group to work with to plant trees in your community. Host a Reformation party to raise funds for the LWF endowment fund and invite all your neighbours.
The ELCIC Reformation Challenge gives us the opportunity to grow together as a church in generosity, outreach and purpose. Some individuals and congregations will be able to do smaller parts of the challenge and some larger. It is all welcome and will be a blessing to our church and to our God. Soli Deo Gloria!
On a side note, Martin Luther wrote a lot about our responsibilities as citizens. Please take your responsibility seriously and vote, and encourage others to vote, in the coming federal election. I’m not telling you how to vote but I do ask you to look at the election resource prepared by some of our partners and use it as you speak with candidates. Let’s all make sure justice issues are part of what we consider in an election campaign! Find the election resource here:
National Bishop Susan Johnson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada