At its Sept. 5-8 meeting in Chicago, the evangelism task force edited a draft of a strategy and presented it to more than 200 Christian educators and evangelists.
"We're seeking input from a variety of partners, receiving feedback from people in the field who are doing outstanding work," said task force chair Gary Wollersheim, bishop of the Northern Illinois Synod. "We want to incorporate their thoughts and prayers in the process of developing an evangelism strategy for the church."
Carmala Aderman, a bishop's assistant in the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin, said the meeting was the group's only chance to shape the document together before its presentation to the 2003 Churchwide Assembly.
The 2001 Churchwide Assembly called for the strategy. The group's work involves creating a renewed focus on prayer for the ELCA's witness and evangelism ministries, and inviting church members to study the place of the gospel in daily life.
ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson told the group that the evangelism strategy would become an integral part of the church's agenda.
Brent Dahlseng, the director for the strategy, said, "The evangelism strategy will serve to reach the hearts of our own people. Once they're touched, the faith connection makes sense and they will be open to touching the hearts of others."
A first draft of the strategy (available at www.elca.org/visionevangelism/) will be sent to the Division for Congregational Ministries' board and the ELCA Church Council for review at their fall 2002 meetings.
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