From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ELCA Council Updated on Renewing Worship, Health Plan Redesign

Date Wed, 28 Apr 2004 12:20:30 -0500


April 28, 2004

ELCA Council Updated on Renewing Worship, Health Plan Redesign

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America (ELCA) received an update on the church's project to
develop the "next generation of worship resources," and it approved
changes to the ELCA medical and dental benefits plan.
     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.
     The Rev. Michael L. Burk, director for worship, ELCA Division for
Congregational Ministries, reported that the church's "Renewing Worship"
project has developed "Holy Communion and Related Rites," the sixth volume
in the series of provisional resources.
     The provisional volume is available on the project's Web site -- -- with the copyright condition that the
downloaded version can only be used through Dec. 31, 2005.  Burk told the
council a complimentary copy of "Renewing Worship Liturgies" -- a "pew
edition" that contains congregational versions of the services in "Holy
Communion and Related Rites" -- will be sent to each ELCA congregation.
     A 45-minute video, "Renewing Worship: Join the Conversation," is
available, Burk said.  The video is a symbol of the participatory nature
of the whole project, he said.
     A report and recommendations related to Renewing Worship are
anticipated for the 2005 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.  Burk said he hopes to
provide a report, available resources and the table of contents for a new
primary book of worship with recommended hymn list.

ELCA Health Plan Redesign
     The council approved "in concept" the Health Plan Redesign that the
ELCA Board of Pensions has undertaken in its 2003-2005 strategic plan.
     The redesign is one of the strategic plan's initiatives, John G.
Kapanke, president, ELCA Board of Pensions, Minneapolis, said in his
written report to the council.	It is meant "to align our plan design more
closely with our health and wellness initiatives and to achieve specific
cost-sharing targets for pharmacy, medical and dental benefits."
     "Implementation of the redesigned plan began last year with increased
pharmacy co-payments that achieve the goal of the plan paying 75 percent
of pharmacy costs and members paying 25 percent.  The next stage is an
expansion of the plan's wellness benefits effective January 1, 2005, and
achieving our goal that the plan pay 65 percent of dental costs and
members pay 35 percent," Kapanke wrote.
     "We estimate that the wellness benefit changes proposed for January
1, 2005, will increase plan costs by roughly one percent.  The 2006
changes are expected to reduce plan costs by four to five percent as
additional costs are paid by the members," said Kapanke's report.
     "In the long term, these changes -- coupled with our efforts to
promote healthy behavior and disease management -- should help to control
future health costs, thereby helping to keep down future contribution rate
increases," Kapanke concluded.
     In other business, the council elected the Rev. Kathleen O. Reed,
Christ Lutheran Church, Natick, Mass., to the board of trustees of the
ELCA Board of Pensions.  She will complete the term, which expires in
2009, of Marcia B. Strahl, Chadwick, Ill.
-- -- --
     The Web site of the ELCA Board of Pensions is at on the Internet.

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

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