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DelegatesDelegates work to further mission, ministry

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- More than 360 delegates of the Ninth Triennial Convention of Women of the ELCA considered memorials from synodical women’s organizations and recommendations from Women of the ELCA’s executive board to further Women of the ELCA’s mission and ministry.

The convention is taking place July 22-24 at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C., and precedes the Ninth Triennial Gathering of Women of the ELCA, July 24-27. About 2,000 women from across this church are gathering under the theme, “of many generations.”

Delegates also approved memorials – proposals from the 64 synodical women’s organizations. With a 314 to 41 vote in favor, delegates approved a memorial designed to raise awareness and prevention of human trafficking, a “growing problem” in the United States, according to the text of the memorial. It is estimated that 2 million people are trafficked worldwide and “27 million people are enslaved around the world,” according to the memorial.

With a 336 to 17 vote in favor, delegates approved a memorial designed to financially support efforts to provide solar energy for Phebe Hospital in Liberia – the largest public health institution in the African country.

Speaking in favor of the memorial, Deana Fuchs, a delegate and president of the synodical women’s organization of the ELCA Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, told the convention about her visit to the hospital in December 2012. The people of Liberia and staff of the hospital “want to better themselves and need people to help them get there.” She said this action “can make a big difference to the people of Liberia.”

Offerings taken during the convention’s worship will be distributed to Women of the ELCA, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and On Eagles Wings Ministries.

Emily Fitchpatrick, founder and executive director of On Eagles Wings -- a Charlotte-based ministry designed to provide hope and after care to victims of sex trafficking -- offered greetings and expressed her gratitude to the convention.

Human trafficking “is the second fastest-growing criminal industry in the world,” said Fitchpatrick. “In the United States, there are more than 300,000 children being sex-trafficked,” she said. “No little girl wakes up and says, ‘when I grow up, I want to be a prostitute.”

Linda Hartke, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, addressed the convention and thanked delegates for their “generous support.” Based in Baltimore, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services is one of the nation's leaders in welcoming and advocating for refugees and immigrants, working on behalf of the ELCA.

“It is women of the church who get things done. It is women who are always first to put their faith into action. LIRS has been blessed to be part of Women of the ELCA and the national church,” said Hartke. “You’ve embraced newly arrived refugees in your congregations, and you have extended hospitality to newcomers in your communities and in this organization.”

During its July 22 plenary, delegates defeated a recommendation to reduce the board’s membership size. According to Linda Post Bushkofsky, executive director of Women of the ELCA, the executive board sought to ensure “the nimbleness needed to function well within a governing body.” She also cited that the board sought to reduce costs related to travel and that current trends among non-profit leadership suggest moving from larger to smaller boards. Of the 363 total eligible votes, 326 delegates voted no; 32 in favor of the recommendation, which required a two-thirds vote for adoption.

ELCA News Service