ELCA Board of Pensions trustees. Minneapolis, Feb. 21-22.
* Recommended that coverage of prescribed birth control devices or drugs be included in the ELCA Medical and Dental Benefits Plan. To date the ELCA health plan has not deemed birth control as "medically necessary" treatment of illness or injury. Trustees recommended the expanded health plan coverage to the ELCA Church Council, which meets in April, since the managed care companies working with the board cover prescribed birth control.
* Recommended changing mental health benefits to conform with requirements of the Mental Health Parity Act.
* Expanded the incentives for patients who find overcharges in their medical bills from inpatient hospital bills to all medical treatment bills.
* Clarified coverage available to plan members' children who no longer meet the eligibility requirements of the ELCA health plan.
* Approved a major reorganization of board structure. Board President John Kapanke said the reorganization will help "strengthen lifelong relationships" with plan members and sponsoring organizations and enable the board to be more responsive to their needs, such as financial planning.
Commission for Multicultural Ministries steering committee. Chicago, Feb. 27-28.
* Passed a resolution asking the Church Council to direct The Lutheran magazine to expand coverage of multicultural ministries and events; to solicit articles from writers who are people of color; to recruit a staff member who is a person of color; to assist the ELCA in implementing its Multicultural Mission Strategy; and to develop a plan and strategy for accomplishing these goals and to work with the council on a timetable.
Division for Congregational Ministries board. Chicago, Feb. 27-March 1.
* Recommended the new Spanish-language worship resource called Libro de Liturgia y Cántico. The worship book will be available to Lutheran communities across the Americas this month. The book, developed by Latino theologians, musicians and composers, features four music settings representative of the Spanish Caribbean, Central and South America, and Mexico. The hardcover book cost $12.50 and is available through Augsburg Fortress, Publishers.
* Received the latest in a survey series from a representative panel of ELCA congregations. The division requested the study to gain insight into congregational practices and preferences in worship. Of 400 congregations surveyed, 334 responded. In the next six months a study will be done of the worship practices of congregations that exhibit high growth and/or that have a reputation for excellence in worship.
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