From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Assembly Holds Evangelism Strategy Hearings

Date Tue, 12 Aug 2003 18:35:15 -0500


August 12, 2003

ELCA Assembly Holds Evangelism Strategy Hearings

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- During the hearing sessions of the
Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
(ELCA) on Aug. 12, voting members were able to discuss with one
another questions and concerns about the proposed evangelism
strategy of the church.
     The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of
the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 11-17 at the Midwest Airlines
Center.  There are about 2,500 people participating, including
1,031 ELCA voting members.  The theme for the biennial assembly
is "Making Christ Known: For the Healing of the World."
     The session opened in prayer led by the Rev. Michael G.
Merkel, New Haven, Conn., member of the ELCA Church Council.
     "Lead us into conversation about your good news in Jesus,"
Merkel said.
     Others who led the discussion included the Rev. M. Wyvetta
Bullock, executive director, ELCA Division for Congregational
Ministries (DCM), and the Rev. Robert Wallace, director for
evangelism, DCM.
     "This has been a process that involved many people in the
church," Bullock said. The planning was "birthed by the church,"
she said.
     The Rev. Margay J. Whitlock, ELCA New Jersey Synod, asked
the committee to explain the relationship between the evangelism
plan and the strategic plan.
     The two plans are tied together, Bullock said.  The plans
are constructed to be conscious of one another and to be
conscious of the need in the church, she said.
     Jonathan Kempe, voting member, ELCA Southwestern Washington
Synod, spoke about the presence of the Lutheran faith in society
and said that he hopes the evangelism strategy will embrace
progressive social stances on current issues including
international peace efforts and topics of sexuality and racism.
     "Why should we buy into the Lutheran church?" Kempe said,
stating he believes that to be the key question the task force
should ask.
     John F. Gruber, voting member, ELCA Greater Milwaukee Synod,
said that he believes all evangelism plans should start with
prayer asking for direction.
     Reginald L. Winfrey, voting member, ELCA Southeastern Synod,
also encouraged prayer in congregations.  He said that he works
as a lawyer for congregations and has seen the impact of prayer.
Further, Winfrey encouraged fasting to accompany prayer.
     The Rev. Gail R. Wolling, voting member, ELCA Upstate New
York Synod, said that worship should become the groundwork for
evangelism.  "When you're evangelized, you're 'good news-ed,'"
she said.
     Dorothy H. Johnson, voting member, ELCA Southern Ohio Synod,
said she believes that segregation is evident within
congregations.	She said that the evangelism strategy should
focus on youth and minorities. "First live what you believe," she
     The Rev. Kenneth W. Wheeler, voting member, ELCA Greater
Milwaukee Synod, agreed with Johnson that people of color and
those whose primary language isn't English should be part of the
evangelism strategy.  He said he applauds the anti-racism efforts
of the ELCA and said that the ELCA is good at welcoming people
into congregations.  Wheeler said the difficult part of
evangelizing will not be welcoming others, but rather inviting
those outside the ELCA in.
     Discussion leaders thanked participants for their input and
encouraged leaders to be open to new evangelism strategies.
-- -- --
Information about the ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found
at on the Web.

*Jessica A. Crane is completing her bachelor of arts degree at
Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn.  She is an intern this summer
for ELCA News and Media Production.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or

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