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Church Council approves health-care add-on

ELCA churchwide employees will be able to put aside money for medical expenses and child care, thanks to a new flexible spending account plan (FSA) passed by the Church Council at its July 26-28 meeting in Minneapolis.

The FSA is a type of "cafeteria plan" enabling employees to set aside pre-tax money to pay for eligible day-care or health-care expenses not reimbursed under the ELCA health benefit plan. Effective Sept. 1, the plan could mean a 20 percent to 30 percent savings on eligible expenses.

Council members normally meet twice a year, but last year and this year they added a summer retreat. They delayed a much-anticipated decision for this abbreviated meeting: the approval of the new director for the Department for Ecumenical Affairs. Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson explained that three other searches and appointments during the week prior to the council meeting (see next issue) didn't allow him enough time to bring a name forward.

A decision for the director for ecumenical affairs will likely be made prior to the Nov. 16-18 Church Council meeting, with members voting by conference call.

The bulk of the council meeting, held in conjunction with the Global Mission Event in Minneapolis, was spent discussing the church's mission, vision and values. Members met in committee of the whole, which dispenses with parliamentary procedure, to:

• Receive research materials from the Department for Research and Evaluation on mission support and congregational and member typologies.

• Discuss a summary of synod assembly responses to strategic planning questions.

• Draft a statement of mission and values.

Reflecting on the church's mission, Hanson told the council: "We must do this with trifocals — tradition (Scripture, confession and theology), contextually (culture, world) and with strategic planning and thinking."

Hanson will respond to questions about the church's strategic plan in a live Webcast on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 4 p.m. EDT.


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November issue

NOVEMBER issue:

The ELCA's aging clergy wave

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