From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Presiding Bishop Reports on Congregational Strategic Direction

Date Wed, 13 Aug 2003 18:11:32 -0500


August 13, 2003

ELCA Presiding Bishop Reports on Congregational Strategic Direction

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- In the second part of his report, the
Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA), focused on the new strategic direction
supporting congregations.
     The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of
the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 11-17 at the Midwest Airlines
Center. There are about 2,100 people participating, including
1,031 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is
"Making Christ Known: For the Healing of the World."
     "We will be a vital and vibrant church only if all of our
11,000 congregations are Christ-centered, Spirit-filled places,"
said Hanson. Supporting congregations is the second of five
strategic directions that Hanson is exploring in his report.
     Hanson focused on the second of five strategic directions:
"Support congregations in their call to be faithful, welcoming,
and generous, sharing the mind of Christ."
     Hanson raised three questions facing congregations that seek
to become "faithful, welcoming and generous, sharing the mind of
Christ." First, congregations must ask if they view themselves in
terms of lack and what they have lost, or in terms of the gifts
they have been given.
     Second, Hanson asked, "Do we think in terms of isolation and
what sets us apart, or in terms of our connectedness to other
congregations, synods or the wider church in the Body of Christ?"
     Third, are congregations defined by nostalgia for the past
or in "expectant hopefulness" for the future? Hanson stated that
congregations should look ahead with Advent hopefulness rather
than seek to revive past glory: "We need to be as clear in our
vision for the growth of our congregations as we are grateful for
[past ministry work]."
     Hanson invited Luther Snow to introduce concepts of
congregational asset mapping to the assembly. Snow, an author and
consultant from Decorah, Iowa, encouraged assembly members to
gather in small groups to describe their congregations' strengths
and find ways to put those gifts together to support each other's
congregational mission and ministry. "What happens when we
connect the dots?" Snow asked, adding, "When needs become assets,
then 'they' become part of 'us' and 'we' become a force for the
will of God."
     Hanson concluded, "We are learning to support one another in
our congregations as we become faithful, welcoming and generous
-- -- --
Information about the ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at on the Web.

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

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home