From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Assembly Receives Greetings from Ecumenical Guests

Date Sun, 17 Aug 2003 10:10:18 -0500


August 17, 2003

ELCA Assembly Receives Greetings from Ecumenical Guests

     MILWAUKEE (ELCA) -- During the 10th and 11th plenary
sessions of the 2003 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), several denominations and
other religious organizations extended their greetings to
assembly voting members.
     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."
     Among those addressing the assembly was the Rev. Robert
Sawyer, president, Southern Province of the Moravian Church in
America.  He extended greetings from the Moravian Church and from
the World Council of Churches (WCC).
     "This is a significant and creative time in the life of the
World Council," Sawyer said.  He spoke about the possible
reconfiguring of the WCC and about the importance of ecumenical
     It is evident how churches face the same issues, he said.
Churches need each other to be in "vital mission together,"
Sawyer said.
     The Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, general secretary,
Reformed Church in America (RCA), told the assembly that he
remembered the discussions he had with the Rev. H. George
Anderson, former presiding bishop of the ELCA, regarding
ecumenical agreements.
     "He said to me, 'It makes sense to me if it will strengthen
the mission of our churches,'" Granberg-Michaelson said.
     The Rev. Christine L. Blice-Baum, Captain, Air Force
Chaplain Service Institute, Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery,
Ala., greeted the assembly on behalf of the federal chaplains.
     "Thank you for your service to your God and to your
country," she said.
     Blice-Baum said there are 400 active ELCA federal chaplains
and 350 retired ELCA federal chaplains.
     "We deploy all over the world ... on the front lines of
humanitarian effort," she said.
     Federal chaplains provide moral and ethical support, serve
on bases, fly with medical evacuation units and provide services
to Lutherans and non-Lutherans, Blice-Baum said.
     "Please pray for us in this ministry," she said.  "Pray for
our troops, those that are at home and those that are deployed."
     Bishop Stephen Blaire, chair, Bishop's Committee for
Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States
Conference of Catholic Bishops, extended greetings from the Roman
Catholic Church.
     "It is a joy to greet you on behalf of your Catholic
brothers and sisters," Blaire said.
     Blaire spoke about the emergence of lay leaders in the Roman
Catholic Church.  "The challenge which we face is a challenge I
hear reflected here ... to reflect the diversity that we are,
that we are called to be," he said.
     The Roman Catholic Church is trying new ways of teaching and
equipping lay leaders, Blaire said.  He spoke of the importance
of supporting lay leaders in their vocations and complimented the
plans included in the ELCA strategic plan.
     Bishop Donald A. Ott, coordinator, United Methodist Church's
Initiative on Children and Poverty, extended greetings to the
ELCA from the United Methodist Church (UMC).  Ott spoke about the
ongoing formal dialogue to "further explore and discover our
partnership in the gospel."
     Ott said there are two key pieces to identifying and
nurturing church leaders.  First, nurture leaders by not
expecting them to do what you will not do, he said.  Second, in
identifying leaders, accept new leaders even if they do not fit
into traditional molds.
     "Ask, invite, trust God to lift up leaders," Ott said.
     Ott also spoke of the importance of relationships between
congregations in different denominations.  "Let's tell each other
our hearts," he said.
     "I give thanks to God for you and I pray for your health and
your witness," Ott said.
-- -- --
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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