ELCA congregations this year can participate in several programs developed by teams working on the "Initiatives to Prepare for a New Century" adopted at the 1997 Churchwide Assembly.
Helping youth, one of the seven initiative goals, took shape in a program called "Safe Haven for Children," which asks every congregation to make a commitment to work for its youth and others in its community to ensure their good start in life. An eight-page resource guide distributed to all congregations offers a plan — from a Bible study to action steps and an intergenerational activity to a covenant form. The plan includes linking congregations with local Lutheran social ministry organizations and ELCA programs advocating for children and families.
Congregations will hear soon from the Initiative team that is developing a strategy to teach the faith. That team plans a yearlong "Call to Discipleship" to begin in September 2000. Wyvetta Bullock, team member and a director of the Division for Congregational Ministries, explained the program to the ELCA Church Council at its November 1998 meeting with a definition of discipleship that has guided the team's work: "The decision, taken not once but constantly renewed, to explore in-depth the meaning of the message in which Christ is central" (Douglas John Hall in Thinking the Faith, Augsburg, 1989).
Other activities of ministry in the Initiatives include: deepen worship life, witness God's action in the world, strengthen one another in mission, connect with youth and young adults, and provide leadership development.
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