11/16/2020 3:00:00 PM
CHICAGO – The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has affirmed the proposed Future Church design that is focused on a renewed purpose to activate the entire church so that more people may know the way of Jesus and discover community, justice and love. The council, which serves as the ELCA's board of directors and legislative authority for the church between churchwide assemblies, held its electronic meeting Nov. 12-14.
Future Church is based in the belief that members, congregations, synods and the churchwide organization must work together to share the powerful witness of the gospel in the world and to invite more new, young and diverse people to experience God's grace in action. The new design identifies three priority areas: a welcoming church that engages new, young and diverse people; a thriving church rooted in tradition and radically relevant; and a connected, sustainable church that shares in a common purpose and direction.
The Future Church structure will be implemented in the churchwide organization on Feb. 1, 2021. The structure will introduce three new home areas: Christian Community and Leadership, led by the Rev. Philip Hirsch; Innovation, led by Ms. Mikka McCracken; and Service and Justice, led by the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla. Approximately 5% of the churchwide organization staff will be separated as a result of the new design.
For more than 30 years the ELCA has experienced a rich history of ministry, but the church has also witnessed a pattern of significant decline with aging members and a membership profile that does not reflect the diversity of God's creation.
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton told the council that the COVID-19 pandemic had brought into sharper focus the need to respond more quickly to this rapidly changing world.
"Whether there had been a pandemic or not, we know we need to change. I think the pandemic helped us to see the urgency," Eaton said. "We are presenting this design because we believe that this is the way God will enable us to move more quickly, more faithfully, and reach more people so that more people may know the way of Jesus."
William B. Horne II, ELCA vice president and chair of the Church Council, said he believes the new design provides the opportunity to be church together, bringing about collaboration throughout the broader church.
In response to the continuing trends in membership and diversity and the data from an innovation readiness survey, the following new criteria were affirmed for the ELCA:
In other business, the council:
The council also received reports from the church's presiding bishop, treasurer, secretary and vice president, and from the ELCA Conference of Bishops.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Candice Hill Buchbinder