ABOUT 260 WOMEN OF THE ELCA voting members approved constitutional changes that reduced the size of its churchwide board from 21 to 15 members while making it more inclusive. They also elected new churchwide officers and an executive board, adopted a 2022 budget, and approved several memorials during an online meeting, Aug. 3-5.
Women of the ELCA’s newly revised constitution now reads that the make-up of the executive board shall beat least 20 percent women of color or whose primary language is other than English, and at least 20 percent will be under 45 and/or members of the LGBTQIA+ community, according to churchwide Executive Director Linda Post Bushkofsky.
The churchwide executive board for the 2017-2020 triennium had a vision of making the organization more welcoming, inclusive, and nimble, said Bushkofsky. “They sought to lead by example.” Following the election, “one-third of the new board are women of color or primary language other than English, exceeding the constitutional mandate of 20 percent,” she said. “Three women are under 45 and/or members of the LGBTQIA+ community.”
New officers and board
Joy Michalicek of Duluth, Minn. (Northeastern Minnesota Synodical Women’s Organization), is the churchwide president through August 2023, when the following convention is held in Phoenix, Ariz. Freddie Jordan of Columbus, Ohio (Southern Ohio Synodical Women’s Organization), is vice president; Angela Bell of Palos Heights, Ill. (Metro Chicago Synodical Women’s Organization), is secretary; and Raeann Purcell of Deland, Fla. (Florida-Bahamas Synodical Women’s Organization), is treasurer.
“I have had the privilege to serve you over the last four years on the churchwide executive board and executive committee,” said Michalicek, who has served on the executive board since 2017. “We will keep working as an organization, and I thank you for your faith in me.
“This organization is important to us as women,” she said. “Jesus is calling and is leading us. We as Women of the ELCA are needed more now than ever.”
Other elected board members are (pictured above, l-r; top row) Jean Pishaw (Oregon Synodical Women’s Organization), Tracy Williams (Southwest California Synodical Women’s Organization), Laura Krueger (Grand Canyon Synodical Women’s Organization), Diane Henning (Saint Paul Area Synodical Women’s Organization), (2nd row) Miranda Searcy (Arkansas-Oklahoma Synodical Women’s Organization), Lorie Garcia (Southwestern Texas Synodical Women’s Organization), Dawn Wicklund (Northwest Synodical Women’s Organization of Wisconsin), Elizabeth Burgess (New England Synodical Women’s Organization), (3rd row) Jennifer Armstrong-Schaefer (Southwestern Pennsylvania Synodical Women’s Organization), Lynette Todd (Delaware-Maryland Synodical Women’s Organization), and Yma Mulero (Caribbean Synodical Women’s Organization).
Voting members approved a fiscal year 2022 budget of $1,636,250. The budget proposes revenue will come from Thankofferings ($400,000); Regular Offerings ($200,000); SWO convention offerings ($25,000); other offerings ($151,250); and special offerings ($5,000).
The budget also sets income from Gather magazine at $850,000 and consignment sales at $5,000.
The budget proposes expenses of programs ($30,000); communication ($703,300); administration ($275,000); salaries and benefits ($622,950); and governance ($5,000).
The convention approved updates to the organization’s constitutions and bylaws. Highlights include:
- Participating in a congregational unit is encouraged but no longer required for leadership in either the synodical or churchwide expressions of Women of the ELCA; however, voting membership in an ELCA congregation is required.
- Reducing the number of churchwide executive board members from 21 to 15, including the four officers.
- Creating more flexibility for synodical women’s organization boards: The board may number “3 or more” without requiring approval from the churchwide executive board to change the number of SWO board members.
- Allowing two members of the same congregational unit to serve as leaders of an SWO; one as an officer and the other as a board member.
- Offering more flexibility in SWO leaders’ titles: leaders may be called presidents and vice-presidents, chairs or co-chairs, conveners or co-conveners, or coordinators.
The constitution had not originally provided for digital conventions. Voting members from the Tenth Triennial Convention (2017) were called into action and, in a mail-in ballot last month, approved a constitutional amendment to hold conventions remotely or virtually, provided participants are sufficient to constitute a quorum, thus paving the way for the historic first digital convention of Women of the ELCA.
Voting members adopted several memorials that included:
- continuing to fight human trafficking
- continuing to support solar energy in Liberia
- supporting and participating in Thursdays in Black
- encouraging the practice of using reusable bags
- encouraging immigration reform
- engaging in education against school violence and mass shootings
- focusing on unjust treatment of women and girls by providing education and prayers for those who have been victimized and giving voice and support to those who willingly acknowledge such treatment by saying #METOO.
To read the complete memorials, download the Eleventh Triennial Convention Programs and Reports.
Two matters of business will be referred to the churchwide executive board because of their importance. They are:
- that first-time voting members at this convention be allowed to serve as first-time voting members at the Twelfth Triennial Convention of Women of the ELCA.
- the dilemma of a synodical organization whose board members have served for seven years and are no longer eligible for re-election according to their constitution and bylaws.
The convention offering will be divided equally between Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest and the ongoing ministries of the churchwide women’s organization, as designated by the churchwide executive board. Gifts will be accepted through the end of August.
Individual gifts may be made online using a credit or debit card by going to welca.org/give and selecting “Triennial Convention Offering 2021” as the designation. Alternately, a personal check made payable to Women of the ELCA, with “triennial convention offering” noted on the memo line, can be mailed to Women of the ELCA, c/o ELCA Gift Processing, PO Box 1809, Merrifield VA 22116-8009.
Gifts from congregational units (form B) and synodical women’s organizations (form C) should be drawn on the group’s checking account to give proper credit to the group. Make checks payable to Women of the ELCA, with “triennial convention offering” noted on the memo line. Mail the group’s check to Women of the ELCA, c/o ELCA Gift Processing, PO Box 1809, Merrifield VA 22116-8009.