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Executive boardWomen of the ELCA elect new officers, board

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Delegates of the Ninth Triennial Convention of Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) elected July 23 Patti Austin from Decatur, Ga., as the organization’s executive board president. Austin, a member of All Saints Lutheran in Lilburn, Ga., was elected on the fourth ballot with 191 votes to 163 votes for Jody Smiley from Blacksburg, Va. There were 354 votes cast, with a total of 178 votes needed for an election.

Meeting July 22-24 under the theme “of many generations,” the convention is Women of the ELCA’s highest legislative authority with delegates elected by each of the 64 synodical women’s organizations.

In her remarks to the more than 360 women attending the convention, Austin recalled the childhood experience of growing a tiny seed in a Styrofoam cup. “We keep a daily watch until a tiny green sprout would nudge the dirt aside, unfold and become our own small plant. Whether it arrives to full maturity or not, the growing plant was reflective of whatever seed we planted,” she said.

“In much the same way, the end result of our women’s ministry is already bound up within the seed that was planted many generations ago,” said Austin, who has served on the churchwide executive board of Women of the ELCA since 2011. She also serves on the stewardship committee and the constitution review committee. 

“Our world is constantly changing and as Christian women we have an opportunity to be a part of those changes by planting God’s love on good soil and bad soil to everyone we come in contact with.”

Austin told the convention about her 14-year-old granddaughter who is attending her first triennial event and is “excited to be attending and learning about the many ministries that we're involved in and to dream about what her generation of women might do in the name of Jesus.” 

“Ladies, we have the opportunity to take our young women under our wing, to nurture them, to mentor them, and, yes, to learn from them,” said Austin.  “We can share our faith, our stories, and most of all God's blessings with them, but we must be ready to hand over to them the legacy of many bold women with full confidence that God is doing something new in and through them.”

Austin said she looks forward with “great anticipation to see what God has in store for us in the next 25 years. I know we will continue to nurture the seed of faith that was planted, knowing that it will continue to develop and grow into an active and vibrant ministry beyond anything we could have ever imagined because this is the mystery of the kingdom of God.”

The convention also elected:

  • Jody Smiley, vice president. Smiley is a member of St. Michael Lutheran in Blacksburg, Va.
  • Becky Shurson, secretary. Shurson is a member of Faith Lutheran in Yucaipa, Calif.
  • Ely Smith, re-elected treasurer.  Smith is a member of Trinity Lutheran in Parkland, Wash.

The triennial convention elected the following to the Women of the ELCA executive board:

  • Cindy Arnett, Sierra Pacific Synod;
  • Deborah Banks-Williams, Metropolitan Chicago Synod;
  • Lois Bylund, Northwestern Minnesota Synod;
  • Lydia Davila, Caribbean Synod;
  • Dinah Dutta, Central States Synod;
  • Gwendolynn Edwards, Nebraska Synod;
  • Joyce Gibson, Montana Synod;
  • Nancy Giddings, Minneapolis Area Synod;
  • Sandra Grier, Upper Susquehanna Synod;
  • Joan Iverson, Southwestern Minnesota Synod;
  • Gwendolyn King, Southeast Pennsylvania Synod;
  • Barbara Miller, Southeast Michigan Synod;
  • Lisa Plorin, Western North Dakota Synod;
  • Anna Sarver, Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod;
  • Dawn Smith, Northwest / Lower Michigan Synod;
  • Karen Voris, Alaska Synod; and
  • Jackie Wilson, Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod.

All officers and executive board members will serve a three-year term from 2014-2017.

Provided by ELCA News