By a 956-68 margin, voting members committed the ELCA to a five-year initiative of “broader and deeper engagement with Scripture.” The nine-point recommendation for “Book of Faith: Lutherans Read the Bible” includes:
• Encouraging “all members, expressions, institutions and partners of this church to commit themselves regularly and increasingly to hearing, reading, studying, sharing and being formed by God’s word.”
• “Raising to a new level this church’s individual and collective engagement with the Bible and its teaching, yielding greater biblical fluency, deeper worship and devotion, and a more profound appreciation of Lutheran principles and approaches for the use of Scripture.”
Diane Jacobson, professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary
, St. Paul, Minn., will serve as director of the initiative. She encouraged ELCA
members to “build this initiative together” by exploring Bible studies that accompany the initiative, sharing resources they have used, suggesting resources needed in the future, and having congregations, synods and other organizations commit to three things they can do in the coming year.
One proposed amendment failed because voting members thought it limited the recommendation. However, another amendment passed that called the ELCA
to explore a reform of its culture in ways that “open it to a new level of valuing and being shaped by the power of the word.”
At a news conference following the vote, Stanley Olson, executive director of Vocation and Education
, said the initiative isn’t a rerun of predecessor church programs. “This initiative affirms [what was done before], but we’re backing up this time to look at what happened in the Reformation.”
“We want this to help people understand and experience the power of Scripture,” Jacobson said. “If [this initiative] shuts people down rather than opens people up, we have done a disservice.”
“The gift Diane brings to this is her desire to not just talk about Scripture,” Olson said. “We’re going to do the Lutheran thing and let Scripture speak to us.”
The project originated from a memorial of the North Carolina Synod
, which brought a proposal to the 2005 assembly. It resulted in two years of work by an ad hoc committee coordinated by Vocation and Education staff.
Visit the ELCA Web site
for more information.