From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Council Supports Vision for Mission, New Funding Initiative

Date Wed, 21 Apr 2004 15:24:22 -0500


April 21, 2004

ELCA Council Supports Vision for Mission, New Funding Initiative

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Church Council of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) pledged a goal of 100 percent
participation in the ELCA's Vision for Mission offering, approved
a new mission funding initiative and adopted a "continuing
resolution" for the establishment of a "development services"
unit at the churchwide office here.
     The Church Council is the ELCA's board of directors and
serves as the legislative authority of the church between
churchwide assemblies.	The council met here April 17-18.
Assemblies are held every other year; the next is Aug. 8-14,
2005, in Orlando, Fla.
     Established by the 1993 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, Vision for
Mission is designed to support the church's global and domestic
mission through "celebrative giving."  Vision for Mission allows
for direct support from individual members and congregations of
the ELCA through gifts used for current operations or through an
     The Vision for Mission annual churchwide offering is
suggested for May 16, 2004, but may be celebrated "any time
through the year," the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of
the ELCA, told the council.
     In a separate action, the council approved a "Mission
Funding Initiative," which includes a proposal to create a
"development services" unit at the churchwide office.
     "Mission funding has been a topic of discussion for some
amount of time," said Linda J. Brown, council member, Fargo, N.D.
Brown serves as chair of the council's budget and finance
     "The proposal is to create an integrated services unit that
brings together" a reporting relationship among "the ELCA
Foundation, Fund for Leaders in Mission, Mission Partners,
Mission Founders, Missionary Sponsorships, World Hunger and
Disaster Appeals, Vision for Mission and an existing development
service desk," Brown told the council.	"This involves knowing
what the right hand and left hand are doing," she said.
     "The intent is that there's an executive director and
assistant to lead this unit.  Funding for the unit has been
included in the 2004 spending authorization," said Brown.  Other
parts of the initiative include an "integrated donor database"
and an advisory panel of "experts in resource development," she
     The "main thrust here is to increase funding," said the Rev.
Jonathan L. Eilert, council member, Brecksville, Ohio.	"We have
to spend money to make money."
     In a separate but related action, the council directed that
the operation of development services "begin immediately" and
requested that "amendments to existing continuing resolutions
germane to this action be developed and submitted" to the
council's November meeting through its legal and constitutional
review committee.  At the Nov. 11-15 meeting, Hanson is to
present the council with a proposal to restructure the ELCA
churchwide organization.  The new unit will be part of the
restructuring proposal.
     The Rev. Michael G. Merkel, council member, New Haven,
Conn., expressed "interest in knowing about the progress of the
development services unit."  In response, Hanson said "regular
reports" will be given at council meetings.
     "I like the vision here, but I wish for more time to talk
about this," said the Rev. April Ulring Larson, bishop of the
ELCA LaCrosse (Wis.) Area Synod.
     Larson asked how development services will operate in
connection with the generation of funds raised in the ELCA
Division for Global Mission.  She said raising funds for global
mission "really sells, so I wish for more conversation about how
the new unit will alter [fundraising] for the division."  Larson
is one of nine bishops who serve as advisors to the council.
     In response, Hanson said, "This is a change about how we're
raising funds, not about shifting existing programs."
     Hanson said churchwide staff affected by the mission funding
initiative will remain in their respective units but will have a
"daily relationship" with the development services staff.  "The
relationship will only build on their assets, not radically alter
their tasks.  This is being birthed from within," he said.
Hanson later added that three distinctive features of the new
unit is the "integration of development efforts," stronger
partnership between the churchwide organization and the 65 synods
of the church, and "raising new dollars."
     Karl D. Anderson, council member, Lakeville, Minn., said he
is "supportive of the idea because there will be a person to
coordinate" fundraising efforts of the church.

'Listen, Thank and Ask' for Mission Support
     "Thank you for your leadership and attention to mission
support," the Rev. Michael L. Meier, coordinator for mission
support, ELCA Division for Congregational Ministries, told the
council.  Meier called the actions taken on mission support by
the council "prudent and wise."
     Meier offered the council a three-word suggestion when
addressing the mission- support efforts of the ELCA.  "Listen,
thank and ask," he said.  "Listen to the people" with whom you
relate, "thank people for what happens in local congregations,"
and ask them "to take a step upward in their generosity," he

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

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