Women of the ELCA’s executive board continues to explore ways to grow the organization, holding up the Caribbean Synod as an example.
“I can’t help but smile when I think about what is happening in the Caribbean Synod,” Executive Board President Lisa Plorin said during the board’s biannual meeting, April 26-28, in Chicago.
When Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, “our sisters lost so much. And that includes their documentation and unit constitutions.”
About 80 women from 23 congregations in the Caribbean Synod gathered in mid-January to talk about how to remain committed to Women of the ELCA. The event, coordinated by the churchwide organization, was an effort to find ways to support the synod following the hurricane.
“Like Katie Luther these resilient women are up and thriving. They are living out our mission statement by growing in faith, affirming their gifts, supporting one another in their callings, engaging in ministry and action, and promoting healing and wholeness in their church.
“If they can do this, so can every other synodical organization.”
New units; new future
In another example of growth, the executive board approved a new special unit based at Egner Chapel at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa.
In her application for a special WELCA Campus Unit, the Rev., Kristen Glass Perez, college chaplain and director of religious life at Muhlenberg, said she is “excited about exploring the possibilities for new programs, partnerships, and service with Women of the ELCA.”
The new campus unit plans to address human trafficking, domestic violence, immigration, and racial justice.
Meanwhile, executive board members responded to a report from a newly formed exploratory committee that is looking into the organization’s future by answering three questions posed by the committee. Anyone can answer the questions at welca.org/future.
The exploratory committee formed two subcommittees. One will review any proposed constitutional changes, and the other will oversee surveys and examine the data.
In other action, the executive board:
installed a new board member, Raeann Purcell of New Smyrna Beach, Fla. (Florida-Bahamas Synod), to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Anissa Canova, of Gouldsboro, Pa.
- approved a recommendation to move up to $250,000 from the New Ministries Fund to cover operational expenses due to a shortage in revenue. Because the revenues fell short of the budget, no funds were added to the reserves for the Eleventh Triennial Convention (2020) as earlier budgeted.
- implemented a plan for each executive board member to establish and strengthen a personal relationship with three synodical presidents. Through these relationships, the executive board will thank the presidents for their support, offer assistance, and:
- strongly encourage the synodical board to financially support at least one voting member for the next triennial convention.
- strongly encourage the synodical board to make a commitment of 50 percent of all convention offerings be sent to the churchwide organization.
- strongly encourage the synodical board to send a minimum of 50 percent of regular offerings to the churchwide organization.
- strongly encourage all units within the synodical women’s organization to make at least one Thankoffering per calendar year to the churchwide organization.
- approved the recommended distribution of grants to India and Japan.
- approved a process for designating and disbursing Women of the ELCA-held global purpose endowment funds, including the India grants.
- approved an update to Women of the ELCA’s travel policy.
In triennial convention and gathering related business, the executive board:
adopted rules of procedure for the 2020 convention (July 14-16, 2020 in Phoenix).
- adopted the proposed agenda for 2020 gathering (July 16-19, 2020).
- approved the designated offerings for the 2020 triennial convention and gathering as follows:
- Eleventh Triennial Convention, 50 percent to Women of the ELCA ongoing ministries; 50 percent to Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest.
- Eleventh Triennial Gathering, 50 percent to the ongoing churchwide ministries of Women of the ELCA; 25 percent to the Dream Center, Phoenix; and 25 percent to AAMPARO.
The executive board heard reports from:
- the 2019 conference of synodical presidents.
- The office of the presiding bishop.
- The conference of bishops.
- Women of the ELCA staff.
The next executive board meeting is set for Oct. 23-25 in Chicago.
Terri Lackey is director for communication for Women of the ELCA.
Feature photo: Sara Larson and Sandy Grier, executive board members, show off their new Just Love bandanas. Just Love is the theme of the 2020 Gathering in Phoenix, July 16-19, 2020. Photos by Kandy Pflaster.