From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Assembly Adopts Evangelism Strategy

Date Wed, 13 Aug 2003 19:56:08 -0500


August 13, 2003

ELCA Assembly Adopts Evangelism Strategy

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- The 2003 Churchwide Assembly of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) adopted "Sharing
Faith in a New Century:  A Vision for Evangelism in the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America" Aug. 13.
     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."
     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.
     By a 933 to 42 vote, Sharing Faith in a New Century became
the official evangelism strategy for the ELCA.	The assembly
commended the strategy for "study and implementation by
congregations, congregational leaders, synods, synod leaders,
churchwide units and institutions and agencies" of the church.
It affirmed the four major objectives of the plan -- calling the
church to prayer, preparing and renewing evangelical leaders,
teaching discipleship and starting and renewing congregations --
and, the assembly referred the strategy to the ELCA Office of the
Presiding Bishop for inclusion in the church's overall strategic
plan and to the "appropriate" churchwide units for study and
     The strategy includes a definition of evangelism, expected
outcomes of the strategy, process of evaluation and the four
primary objectives.
     In a separate action, the assembly approved a series of
amendments "en bloc."  The amendments were written by individual
voting members and submitted to an ad hoc committee charged with
reviewing and recommending the amendments to the assembly.  The
Rev. Gary M. Wollersheim, bishop of the ELCA Northern Illinois
Synod, Rockford, represented the committee.  In an interview
Wollersheim, chair of the evangelism task force, said 17
amendments were delivered to the committee.  Each was positive
and served to strengthen the document, he said.
     The assembly approved amendments to the strategy that:
     + offer training and resources for ministry to people with
"special needs" --physical, mental, and emotional -- moving
beyond accessibility to full acceptance, increased understanding,
and full participation in the life of the congregation.
     + include outreach and evangelism to youth, young adults and
     + encourage congregations to use the ELCA's "Call to
Discipleship" seven faith practices:  study Scripture, worship,
pray, give, serve, encourage and witness.
     Everett Wick, voting member, ELCA Southeastern Pennsylvania
Synod, composed the amendment to offer training and resources for
ministry to people with "special needs."  He told the assembly
that people with special needs are least likely to attend church
and outreach on the congregational level must take place.
     "All have gifts to offer," Wick said.  He said most of the
church's emphasis has been on accessibility. "Accessibility does
not necessarily mean inclusively," he said.
     At a news conference called by the ELCA News Service, the
Rev. M. Wyvetta Bullock, executive director, ELCA Division for
Congregational Ministries, told reporters that the assembly's
action "is a very defining moment" for the church.  "We are
naming and claiming the vocation of all the baptized to share our
faith in Jesus Christ.	It is a mark of our passion for Christ
and our compassion for the world," she said.
-- -- --
Information about the ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at on the Web.

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

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