The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Hanson upbeat, confident of ELCA's future

Report of the presiding bishop

Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson challenged the denomination to launch 100 congregations a year for the next five years as a great way to recognize the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation.

"We are a church with clarity about who we are and about our shared commitment to being engaged in God's mission for the life of the world," Hanson said in his report to the Churchwide Assembly. "We are a church called to multiply, not divide." (See "Ready to be moved by Spirit.")

ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson
ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson leads the opening worship service at the 2011 Churchwide Assembly in Orlando, Fla.

In a 4,200-word address perhaps more sermon than speech, Hanson struck repeatedly at the assembly theme "Freed in Christ to Serve."

"We are Lutherans. That means that we are evangelical," he said. "At the heart of who we are is the good news that in Christ we are free. Did you hear that? Do you believe that?" ... Oh, yes, but in Christ, you are not only bound to be free, you are also freed to be bound — bound to God through faith, bound to God's creation as stewards, bound to the world as peacemaker and justice seeker."

Citing ELCA membership at more than 4.2 million, Hanson said each member defines what it means to "live Lutheran."

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