WOMEN OF THE ELCA’S executive board established strategic objectives for the remainder of the 2020-2023 triennium focusing on anti-racism. They also approved launching a major campaign during a specially called meeting on June 23.
Both the objectives and campaign came from task forces appointed by churchwide president Lisa Plorin at the board’s April 24 meeting.
“I’m excited to see how the work of our task forces plays out in bringing renewal to our organization,” says Lisa Plorin, churchwide president. “Racism is a tough subject for many, but with the state our nation is in at this time, we feel it’s right to channel the energy of our ministry to address this topic.”
The three strategic objectives are anti-racism awareness-raising, accompaniment, and advocacy. With awareness-raising, women will educate themselves to see everything through an antiracist lens. For accompaniment, European descent women will walk in solidarity with BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) women in the struggle for racial equity by developing authentic relationships. With the advocacy focus, women will live out our Lutheran belief that governments can help advance the common good, focusing specifically on anti-racism issues. For further detail, the report of the strategic planning task force is available.
“As the executive board of Women of the ELCA looked to the future, we acknowledged our roots in anti-racism,” said the Rev. Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld, chair of the strategic planning task force. “In a time such as this where we have a new national willingness to address racial inequities, we are embracing the call of the gospel to be disciples in word and deed.”
Thomas-Breitfeld said that returning to the “hard work of authentic anti-racism felt Spirit-led. We are bold women, heeding the call to lead our church into authentic anti-racism that welcomes all people enabling us to become the beloved community that God calls us to be.”
Vice president Becky Shurson echoed the hope expressed by Thomas-Breitfeld. “Because of each executive board’s commitment to anti-racism training, we are on the journey now,” she said. “That training has been one of the greatest gifts this organization has given me, and I am so grateful.”
Primary financial support for the churchwide organization has historically come through group giving. That includes Regular Offerings collected in congregational units and Thankofferings collected in multiple settings (primarily congregational units). Because that group support has been declining over the past two decades, the board recognized the need to consider additional means of support.
Relying on the work of the major campaign task force, the board authorized the hiring of Rebecca Sundquist Fundraising to undertake a four-month feasibility study to determine the organization’s capacity for individual giving, both in current giving and in estate gifts. Rebecca Sundquist Fundraising will help Women of the ELCA create a communication/public relations plan, budget plan, timeline, leadership needs, and promotional materials needed to launch a campaign once assisting the board in determining the capacity for a major campaign.
“The future of this organization is so much brighter than any of us imagined; it’s full of hope,” said Angela Bell, chair of the major campaign task force. “We’re so excited to move forward on this new path.”
That sense of hope resonated with board member Laura Krueger. “I am hopeful for a very bright and exciting future of Women of the ELCA. I have learned a lot and grown through my years in this organization, and I want to make sure it survives and thrives into the future. God is not yet done with us!”
In other matters, the board received a financial update from Linda Post Bushkofsky, executive director. She reported that the FY2020 audit is underway and is expected to be completed before the August 3-5 Eleventh Triennial Convention. The audit shows Regular Offerings of $263,809 and Thankofferings of $508,082, both less than received in FY2019, reflecting congregational units not meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Total giving and revenue, including subscriptions to Gather magazine and investment earnings, equaled $1,958,572. Total expenses for FY2020 were $2,104,501.
Photos of executive board by Elizabeth McBride