From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Assembly Hears Presiding Bishop's Report on 'Public Church'

Date Fri, 15 Aug 2003 18:52:59 -0500


August 15, 2003

ELCA Assembly Hears Presiding Bishop's Report on 'Public Church'

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- In the fourth installment of his report
to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) 2003
Churchwide Assembly, the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of
the ELCA, focused on the new strategic direction on becoming a
public 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 2,100 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 fourth strategic direction in the ELCA's proposed
strategic plan reads: "Step forward as a public church that
witnesses boldly to God's love for all that God has created."
     Hanson introduced the concept of the public church with a
video of voting members who were asked to define "the public
church." Hanson said, "our baptism calls us, Scripture compels
us, and the world cries out for the ELCA to be a public church."
He added that the church's responsibility to respond to these
cries "is woven into the very fabric of the work of this
     Following a short video clip from "Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
Agent of Grace," Hanson urged the assembly to take seriously
Bonhoeffer's call for a "church of the future." The church of the
future, according to Bonhoeffer, is deeply affected by the pain
of others, and acts in solidarity with those who are suffering.
     Hanson pointed out that being a public church "does
challenge an increasingly prevalent viewpoint that the church
should only be private." On issues of war and peace, there is
often disagreement on the public stance that the ELCA should
take, he said.
     "We will not be a church that always agrees on justice or
the particular way to peace, but we should never be a church that
falls silent in working to bring about justice and peace," said
     The ELCA is a public church in the degree to which it
worships, witnesses, serves the poor, strives for justice and
peace, and lives out the many callings of its members, he said.
     "We are also a public church as we communicate, telling
God's story through words, pictures and now through electronic
media. We can never underestimate the importance of communication
in our role as a public church," said Hanson.
-- -- --
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