New Bylaws and Constitution documents now available

CANADA – Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) has released the new versions of its Statutory Bylaws, Synodical Bylaws, and Synodical Constitution which were adopted by the 2017 synodical convention.

The amendments to these documents were previously released in the official convention proceedings, but the finalized version of the documents are now available to download.

Amendments to the statutory bylaws were passed by a 77.3% majority during the convention (a 2/3 majority was required). Download LCC’s new Statutory Bylaws here.

The Synodical Bylaws passed at convention without opposition. Download LCC’s new Synodical Bylaws here.

Amendments to the Synodical Constitution passed at convention with 92 votes in favour and 2 against. Changes to the Synodical Constitution also require ratification by LCC congregations before they are put into effect (congregational resources for that vote are now available). Download the Synodical Constitution here.

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LCC releases materials for congregational vote on Synodical Constitution amendments

CANADA – Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) has released a package of resource materials for congregations as they prepare to vote on changes to the synodical constitution adopted at the 2017 synodical convention.

“These proposed changes in structure were all adopted by the 2017 LCC Convention by a strong majority,” explains LCC First Vice President Nolan Astley in an executive summary on the congregational ratification process. “Because some of these changes require amendment of the Constitution of LCC, a congregational ratification vote is necessary to approve the changes to the constitution. In order to be adopted the constitutional amendments must be approved by two-thirds of the congregations participating in the ratification vote.”

The resource package now released by LCC provides congregations with the tools they need to participate in the ratification process. The package includes:

“The Board of Directors of LCC, together with the Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure, urges member congregations to give prayerful consideration of these amendments to our Constitution and exercise their right to vote,” writes Vice President Astley in his Executive Summary.

Congregational votes on the proposed changes must take place on or before April 16, 2018. Ballots may be submitted electronically or by mail, but those sent by mail must be postmarked no later than April 17, 2018.

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Convention Proceedings now available

CANADA – The Proceedings from Lutheran Church–Canada’s eleventh synodical convention have now been published. The convention took place October 13-16, 2017 in Kitchener, Ontario.

“The official Proceedings… are provided as the official record of the decisions, elections, and activities of the Convention,” notes Rev. Paul Schallhorn, outgoing Synod Secretary. “I encourage all members of the Synod who receives these Proceedings to make them available to the members of their respective congregations and others so that the information contained herein may reach as many as possible.”

The Proceedings are available as a pdf download here. Physical copies of the Proceedings are also available upon request from Lutheran Church–Canada’s synodical office in Winnipeg.

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2017 Convention Election Results

LCC President Elect Timothy Teuscher (second from right) and Vice President Thomas Kruesel (right) with some of the incoming members of the Board of Directors.

KITCHENER, Ontario – On October 15, Lutheran Church–Canada meeting in convention elected Rev. Thomas Kruesel to serve as LCC’s Vice-President. He joins Rev. Timothy Teuscher, who was elected President on October 14, 2017.

Rev. Kruesel has served as LCC’s Second Vice President since 2011, and served as Third Vice President from 2009-2011. As a result of convention’s decision to adopt Resolution 17.1.01, synod will only have one Vice President going forward. Vice President Kruesel was elected on the third ballot.

The convention also elected officers for LCC’s Board of Directors: Arnold Drung, Cindy Sholdice, Grace Henderson, Cam Pelzer, Kirsten Guggenmos, Deacon Suzanne Eberhard, Rev. Warren Hamp, Rev. Alex Klages, Rev. Kurt Reinhardt.

The results of these and other elections are spelled out in a newly released “Report on Elections” from LCC President Robert Bugbee, presiding officer of the 11th synodical convention. Download the report here.

Elections at convention were delayed by the need to first complete discussions on restructuring, as many of the changes being contemplated would impact the make-up of members for these groups.

Despite working diligently—and even continuing past the scheduled adjournment time for convention—delegates were unable to complete elections for all positions. Facing that possibility, the convention passed a resolution declaring any unfilled positions by the time convention ended vacant, and directing those entities authorized by LCC’s Handbook to appoint members to fill the vacancies. These agencies are to take into account the convention’s ballot results in making such appointments. (In other words, if a particular candidate had a high vote total and was close to being elected at adjournment, the relevant entities would be encouraged to appoint such a candidate as opposed to one who had received few or no votes.)

The following candidates were all elected by convention, though the results of these votes were not tabulated at the time convention was adjourned. Remaining vacancies are also noted.

Commission on Constitutional Matters and Structure
Gary Gilmour, Mark Hersey, Arlene Kish, Rev. William Ney
(other spaces to be filled by appointment)

Commission on Adjudication
Rev. Dr. Kevin Fast, Rev. Jeremy Richert
(other spaces to be filled by appointment)

Commission for Nominations and Elections
Milton Joneson, Rod Johnson, Sharon Schieman, Rev. Keith Hoveland, Rev. Lorne Reddemann, Rev. Michael Meleg, Rev. Robert Morley, Rev. Paul Williams

Commission on Theology and Church Relations
(no one elected at adjournment; spaces to be filled by appointment)

Because the seminaries of St. Catharines, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta are separately incorporated entities, LCC is not legally able to directly elect directors to their Boards of Regents. Nevertheless, the seminaries have agreed that candidates chosen at the convention should be forwarded as nominees to the seminaries, which will then appoint directors, guided by convention’s ballot lists.

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LCC welcomes international guests to 2017 convention

LCC President Robert Bugbee (third from right) is joined by leaders representing churches in Peru, Nicaragua, Germany, the United States, and Norway.

KITCHENER, Ontario – During its 2017 synodical convention, Lutheran Church–Canada welcomed guests from several international partner churches.

On October 14, the convention received greetings from Rev. Dr. Hans-Jörg Voigt, Chairman of the International Lutheran Council (ILC) and Bishop of LCC’s partner church in Germany, the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK). “It is my prayer for Lutheran Church–Canada that our Heavenly Father will always look kindly on your church,” he said, “and that He will answer our prayers for the well-being and extension of confessional Lutheranism worldwide.” Bishop Voigt brought, as a symbol of the unity between the two churches, a copy of the SELK’s worship agenda as a gift. “We are one Church in a spiritual and theological sense, by celebrating the Lord’s Supper, by celebrating worship,” he explained.

Rev. Dr. Curtis Leins, Presiding Pastor of The American Association of Lutheran Churches (a member church of the ILC), likewise brought greetings on October 15.

A day later, Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver brought greetings on behalf of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s President Matthew Harrison and the people of LCMS. Dr. Collver also serves as Executive Secretary of the ILC. “Although the LCMS and LCC share a tremendous history together, it is the friendships that develop between our churches which help facilitate joint work, cooperation, and future opportunities,” he noted. “Know that Lutheran churches around the world pray for you because of your confession. Your neighbors to the south, The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod prays for you, as do the churches of the International Lutheran Council.”

President Milton Winston Tejeda Huatuco of the Lutheran Church in Peru (a member church of the ILC) also brought greetings on October 15, introducing LCC to the work of the Peruvian church. Roberto José Zepeda, longtime office manager of LCC’s Mission Centre in Chinandega, Nicaragua, also brought greetings, thanking Canadians for their continued support of the Nicaraguan church. Finally, Bishop Torkild Masvie of the Lutheran Church of Norway (a member church of the ILC) also brought greetings.

The final day of convention, October 16, saw greetings from the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod-USA (a member church of the ILC), brought by Rev. Mark Dankof, representing Bishop Ralph Speers. The convention also received written greetings from several other churches, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil, Japan Lutheran Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina, the Free Evangelical-Lutheran Synod in South Africa, the Lutheran Church of Australia, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia. The text of these greetings were published throughout convention in issues of Today’s Business.

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President Elect addresses convention

President Elect Timothy Teuscher addresses delegates on October 15.

KITCHENER, Ontario – Rev. Timothy Teuscher gave his first address as President Elect to the convention of Lutheran Church–Canada on October 15.

He began by noting advice the late Rev. Dr. Albin Stanfel, then President of the Ontario District, had given him as a young pastor—advice to allow his name to stand if ever nominated for positions in the district or synod, and to let the church decide.

But now that the church had decided to make him president, he confessed, he was left wondering: “Why should I be the one to serve in this office when there are others far more qualified to do so than I am?”

“I think of President Ed Lehman, President Ralph Mayan, President Robert Bugbee,” he continued. “I cannot even hope to adequately follow in their footsteps.”

He also noted the challenges our synod has faced over the past number of years, and the increasingly hostile wider culture in which we find ourselves—reasons that might give anyone pause before accepting the presidency of the church.

“And yet, in spite of all these questions and issues and concerns and reasons to decline to serve in this office,” said, “there stand those words of Dr. Stanfel: ‘Let the church decide.’ And so it is with much hesitancy, reluctance, with a great deal of fear and trepidation, and after much prayer and seeking advice and counsel… that I humbly bow to the will and decision of the convention and accept my election to serve as president of our synod.”

“I ask for your patience and prayers, your understanding, your support, your counsel, and your advice.”

He cited C.F.W. Walther in his closing remarks, noting that we must remain true to the historic faith though others might run after the spirit of the times. Others might trust in their own abilities and wisdom, Walther explains, but we instead must trust rather in the grace and mercy of God.

“To that end,” said President Elect Teuscher, “may God bless us and our poor, little Lutheran Church–Canada. Amen.”

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LCC declares fellowship with Finnish Lutherans

CANADA – Lutheran Church–Canada has declared altar and pulpit fellowship with the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland.

The action was taken during LCC’s synodical convention meeting in Kitchener, Ontario, and was adopted unanimously. It comes following discussions between representatives of the two church bodies revealed doctrinal unity, with LCC’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations recommending the declaration of fellowship.

The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland emerged out of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland as a result of that church’s departure from historic Christian teaching. The Mission Diocese was founded in 2013, and is headed by Bishop Risto Soramies. As of 2016, it has 32 congregations.

The Mission Diocese of Finland, along with other Nordic Lutherans, has established closer relations with confessional Lutherans in the International Lutheran Council (ILC) in recent years, applying for membership in the ILC and conducting fellowship talks with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in England and the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany (SELK). Both the ELCE and SELK are partner churches of Lutheran Church–Canada and fellow members with it of the ILC.

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Convention 2017: Opening Worship Service draws hundreds

LCC President Robert Bugbee preaches during the opening worship service.

KITCHENER, Ontario – Approximately 335 people gathered October 13, 2017 at Historic St. Paul’s Lutheran Church for the opening worship service of Lutheran Church–Canada’s eleventh synodical convention in Kitchener, Ontario. Attendees of the divine service filled the pews and overflowed into the gymnasium of the church.

Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee, President of Lutheran Church–Canada, served as celebrant and preacher for the event. His sermon, which was entitled “Christ, First in Everything,” drew on Colossians 1:15-20.

Serving as co-celebrant and confessional pastor was Rev. Larry Gajdos, pastor of Historic St. Paul’s. LCC’s three Vice-Presidents Rev. Nolan Astley, Rev. Thomas Kruesel, and Rev. Rudy Pastucha served as additional liturgists, while Rev. Gerson Flor (Chaplain with the Canadian Armed Forces) and Rev. Peter Gatluak (Hamilton Missionary) served as additional lectors. Matthew Gajdos and Kyle Zehr of Historic St. Paul’s served as crucifer and banner bearer respectively.

Reflecting the worldwide mission of the Church, the first two Scripture readings were read in languages other than English. Rev. Flor read in French while Rev. Gatluak read in Nuer (English translations were provided). The congregation was also blessed with two pieces by an Urdu-language choir, directed by Rev. James Luke.

Their musical contribution was complemented by music sung by the Kitchener-Waterloo Choir, directed by Rev. Ron Mohr, as well as organ music by Paul Walrath. Additional music of note were two congregational hymns composed for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. “Though All Our Life is Like a Scroll,” written by Wilfred L. Karsten, was commissioned by The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and Concordia Publishing House to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, while “C’est plus qu’un bain pris dans une eau,” written by Yves Kéler, was the winning entry in a Reformation 500 French-language hymn contest organized by Lutheran Church–Canada.

Convention organizers wish to thank the members of Historic St. Paul’s for their hospitality in hosting the event and their assistance in organizing the worship service. Thanks are also due to the 2017 Synodical Worship Committee: Rev. Robert Bugbee, Rev. Ken Maher, Rev. Ron Mohr, Paul Walrath, Ian Adnams, and Rev. Larry Gajdos.

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LCC holds 2017 synodical convention

KITCHENER, Ontario – Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) will hold its eleventh synodical convention October 13-16, 2017 in Kitchener, Ontario, with business sessions and the opening worship service being broadcast live online.

This year’s convention comes at a historic time for Lutherans, as 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Tradition states that Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. That event is widely considered the spark which ignited the Protestant Reformation. As delegates gather in Kitchener for LCC’s synodical convention, they will be taking time to observe Reformation commemorations as a result, including through a special Reformation concert the evening of October 14, 2017. The concert will feature J.S. Bach’s Cantata 199 and Felix Mendelssohn’s Reformation Symphony as performed by the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra.

Delegates to the 2017 convention have a full slate of work to accomplish, including the election of a new synodical President, voting on plans to restructure Lutheran Church–Canada, and considering the establishment of relations with a new partner church. Information on these and other resolutions the convention will debate are available in the 2017 Convention Workbook.

The first business session will begin on Friday, October 13 at 4:00 p.m. (EDT), with an orientation for delegates. The opening worship service will take place later that day at 7:30 p.m. (EDT). See the full convention schedule here.

Watch on the synodical convention website here. The event will also be broadcast live online via LCC’s Facebook page.

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