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Executive Board meets April 24-25

Board explores triennial gathering theme; meets new staff

Gwen Edwards Patti AustinThe Women of the ELCA executive board met April 24-26 in suburban Chicago where they brainstormed the 2017 triennial gathering theme, met new staff members, and acted on referrals from the 2014 triennial convention. They also participated in racial justice education and heard a challenge from the executive director to reflect on the organization’s legacy.

“What will be our legacy?” Linda Post Bushkofsky, Women of the ELCA’s executive director, asked the executive board. “What will future historians write about Women in the ELCA? It’s a rhetorical question, but one I challenge you to reflect on as we are called to live out the mission and purpose of Women of the ELCA.”

In legislative action, the executive board chose not to propose a change to the model constitution for synodical women’s organizations to allow two women from the same congregational unit to serve simultaneously on a synodical board. The issue had been raised in a memorial to the Ninth Triennial Convention from the Eastern Washington-Idaho Synodical Women’s Organization; the memorial had been referred to the executive board by the convention for further study and action.

Joyce Gibson Gwen KingThe board adopted action aligning the Churchwide Women’s Organization Constitution with the Syndocial Women’s Organization Model Constitution regarding presenting a synodical budget to the churchwide organization within 30 days of its adoption. The recommendation will be forwarded to the Tenth Triennial Convention, July 11-13, 2017, in Minneapolis, Minn., for consideration.

The executive board acted upon a recent active unit assessment conducted by the synodical women’s organizations and allocated voting members for the Tenth Triennial Convention.

The program and communication committee of the board passed on recommendations for India endowment grants to the executive director with the board’s approval. Funds for grants to ministries in India come from specific restricted-purpose endowments of predecessor women’s organizations and are awarded on an annual basis. Approximately $14,125 will go to four different women’s ministries in India.

Financial matters

The executive board reviewed income and expenses through March 31 of fiscal year 2015. With 16.66 percent of the year finished, only 8.95 percent of the project revenue has been received. For the fiscal year 2014 that ended January 31, 2015, the organization was $17,261 short in projected revenue; however income exceeded expenses by $20,326.

To offset the cost of the 2014 triennial convention and triennial gathering, $528,910 was withdrawn from an endowment fund and $19,654 was withdrawn from the reserve fund.

Other matters

In its October 2014 meeting, board members made a commitment to racial justice education. Inez Torres Davis, director for justice for Women of the ELCA, led the board in a two-hour racial justice workshop. New business requesting the time be extended to six-to-eight hours was tabled until the October meeting pending a review by the budget and finance committee of the financial implications of this request.

Cindy ArnettIn an exercise to create a theme for the 2017 triennial gathering, Women of the ELCA staff enlisted input from the board for ideas. A triennial gathering theme will be announced later this year. The board also spent two hours in stewardship education/public speaking conducted by an outside consultant, Marianna Swallow (mariannaswallow.com).

In ongoing matters, the board heard reports from the president, treasurer, executive director and staff, and standing committees and received reports from advisors.

The board learned that as of April 1, the Katie’s Fund endowment had grown to $1,089,674. Through staff reports, it also learned that the grants program is going on a one-year hiatus to review the process, the Bible study is being reformatted and that Katie’s Fund income will support the participation of 12 young adult women in the Peace Not Walls Young Adult Trips to the Holy Land this spring and summer.

They also met Elizabeth (Liz) Hunter, who has served as managing editor for Gather magazine since March, and Audrey Riley, director for stewardship since December 2014. Audrey previously served Women of the ELCA on the magazine staff. Liz replaced Terri Lackey who moved into a newly formed position of director for communication.

The executive board learned that the organization’s communication efforts and publications were recently honored by the Religion Communicators Council and more awards are expected this week from Associated Church Press, which is meeting in Toronto.

The next board meeting is October 22-25, 2015, in Minneapolis, Minn.

Photos: Top, Patti Austin, right, Gwen Edwards; Center, Joyce Gibson, left, Gwen King; Bottom, Cindy Arnett