In his report, ELCA Secretary Lowell Almen (left) explored the bonds of faith and the essential structure of the ELCA that unite the whole church in common mission.
Almen traced the 200-year history of Zion Lutheran Church, Hollidaysburg, Pa., to illustrate the ELCA's interconnectedness, focusing especially on the denomination's purposes and polity.
Each expression of the church — congregations, synods and the churchwide organization — "while fully the church, recognizes that it is not the whole church ... and lives in a partnership relationship with the others," he said, quoting the ELCA constitution.
The secretary said Zion remained aware of and connected to the whole church throughout its history. But
today, he added, "even among the members of our congregations, many practice a private or personal spirituality. They may show little awareness of the importance of the community of faith particularly ... beyond the walls of their congregation. As a
result they reflect limited understanding of the wider dimensions of the church. This is a grave concern."
Almen said church anniversaries, like Zion's, "serve as reminders of our continuity in the faith from generation to generation. ... They can widen our vision for current mission needs."
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