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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Too little, too quickly?

Conference of Bishops debates strategic mission plan

Vigorous discussion marked the ELCA Conference of Bishops' examination of Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson's proposed reordering of the ELCA churchwide organization — and the process that produced it. Meeting in Chicago, Oct. 2-6, some bishops suggested the plan doesn't cut churchwide staff enough; others said it represents a "great loss" to some ministries, including multicultural efforts.

Several pointed out that cutting positions related to outdoor ministries, church schools and colleges will disconnect vital ministries from a relationship with the churchwide organization. "It looks like we want [church schools] out of the building," said Bishop Stephen Bouman, Metropolitan New York Synod.

Bishop Gerard Knoche, Delaware-Maryland Synod, said diminishing support to areas such as campus ministries will force synods to raise more funds for such local efforts, further depressing churchwide mission support.

Others said the process of drafting the proposal didn't sufficiently include churchwide executives or other stakeholders. "It doesn't feel like a proposal but a done-deal," said Bishop Michael Neils, Grand Canyon Synod. "The Church Council doesn't get [a revised proposal] until November" when it is scheduled to act upon the plan.


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