From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Assembly Learns about Evangelism Strategy

Date Tue, 12 Aug 2003 19:28:14 -0500


August 12, 2003

ELCA Assembly Learns about Evangelism Strategy

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- "Sharing Faith in a New Century: A
Vision for Evangelism in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America" was presented Aug. 12 to the 2003 ELCA Churchwide
     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."
     Sharing Faith in a New Century is the proposed evangelism
strategy for the ELCA.	The 2001 Churchwide Assembly called for
the development of a comprehensive strategy on evangelism for the
church.  It received "A Telling Witness of God's Good News," the
evangelism strategy report from 1991-2001 and, in receiving that
report, the assembly authorized the presiding bishop of the ELCA
-- in consultation with the ELCA Division for Congregational
Ministries and other churchwide offices -- to establish a task
force for the development of an evangelism strategy.
     "An increasing spiritual hunger makes this a very good time
for congregations and all expressions of the ELCA to give witness
and testimony to Jesus Christ.	More than 140 million [people] in
the United States" are not members of a church, and "yet 96
percent of the population said it believes in God," said the Rev.
M. Wyvetta Bullock, executive director, ELCA Division for
Congregational Ministries.
     "It is the dream of the task force to see this church
spiritually renewed, transformed and empowered to passionately
give witness to Christ," she said.
     Bullock noted that one of the five proposed strategic
directions for the ELCA -- to be considered by the 2003
Churchwide Assembly -- is evangelism, which also served as the
assembly's primary focus for the day.
     "Centered in word and sacrament, committed to serving
others, evangelism is witnessing to the good news of Jesus
Christ," the Rev. Gary M. Wollersheim, bishop of the ELCA
Northern Illinois Synod, Rockford, Ill., told the assembly.
     Wollersheim, chair of the evangelism task force, identified
four core values of the strategy:  "Witness by all the baptized,"
life-long faith formation, justice and mercy for all creation and
becoming an "anti-racist, multicultural church."
     Wollersheim also noted four major objectives of the
strategy.  They are calling the church to prayer, preparing and
renewing evangelical leaders, teaching discipleship and starting
and renewing congregations.
     The assembly engaged in a 30-minute "quasi committee of the
whole" to hold a "general discussion" about the proposed
evangelism strategy.
     Russell J. Speidel, voting member, ELCA Eastern Washington-
Idaho Synod, requested that a member of the evangelism task force
suggest a way that Lutherans can "hold one another accountable"
to the actions of the proposed strategy.
     In response, Wollersheim highlighted the plans of the ELCA
Northern Illinois Synod.  "We plan to ask every congregation in
the synod to develop a mission plan and submit the plan to the
synod," he said.
     Jonathan Kempe, voting member, ELCA Southwestern Washington
Synod, said many young people "sleep in on Sunday morning.  Many
are not attracted to the church."  Kempe said that the ELCA must
be proactive in making known "what the church can offer" young
people.  "It is the responsibility of the church to make the
gospel known," he added.
     The Rev. Per C. Nilsen, voting member, ELCA St. Paul Area
Synod, offered his support of the strategy and said he would pray
that "when all is said and done, more is done than said."
     On Aug. 13, the assembly will vote on the adoption of
Sharing Faith in a New Century to become an official strategy of
the church, and is expected to refer the proposed actions
outlined in the strategy to the ELCA Office of the Presiding
Bishop for attention to the church's overall strategic planning
process and to the appropriate churchwide units for study and
-- -- --
Information on the 2003 ELCA Churchwide Assembly is available at on the Web.

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

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