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Above board

by Pastor Jaynan Clark Egland (President, WordAlone Network)

January 17, 2003

photo of Jaynan Clark Egland

Pr. Jaynan Clark

Last weekend the WordAlone Network Board of Directors met in San Antonio, Texas, for their quarterly meeting. The board meets twice a year in the Minneapolis area and for the remaining two meetings travels to different parts of the country to give board members a chance to meet with local leaders, and to preach and teach in local congregations.

The first hours of the Board of Director’s meeting were spent with two people sent from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) offices in Chicago to gather information for the strategic planning process now underway within the ELCA. The ELCA’s 10-year plan is being put together based on input from its personnel, and from people at many of its teaching institutions and agencies, and a few “groups” such as WordAlone.

All the members of the board participated in this lively discussion and held nothing back. The board brought forward the Network’s concerns for the church and offered many helpful ideas for the ELCA’s future. We were assured that all comments and suggestions would go back to the task force in an unedited form. We are hopeful our collective voices will be heard.

The board reviewed the strategy and tactics for distributing the “Admonition for the Sake of the True Peace and Unity of the Church” and the gathering of signatures supporting the admonition. The distribution will be widespread across the church here in the U.S.A. and globally. An educational document written by Dr. George Forell for use within congregations and study groups will be mailed with the Admonition.

The board had an extended discussion regarding the international use of the document and possible scenarios if the ecclesiastical consequences are ignored and changes not made. We are inviting papers to be presented at the next board meeting to clarify the situation in the Swedish Lutheran Church regarding apostolic succession.

A strategic plan for the WordAlone Network with one year quantified projections was approved. The strategic goals continue to focus on the three R’s of renewal, reform and reflection. This was all done in light of the WordAlone Network mission statement:

WordAlone is a Lutheran grassroots network of congregations and individuals committed to the authority of the Word manifest in Jesus the Christ as proclaimed in Scripture and safeguarded through the work of the Holy Spirit. WordAlone advocates reform and renewal of the church, representative governance, theological integrity and freedom from a mandated historic episcopate.

The report from the treasurer and the budget for the year 2003 were accepted. The financial status of the Network remains sound despite a weak and tentative economy. The support received from congregations is the Network’s bread and butter, while individual donors continue to strengthen the Network during these difficult financial times.

Creation of an educational endowment for the WordAlone Network was approved by the board and will be communicated across the Network so those interested in offering gifts in perpetuity have that opportunity. One area of education that will benefit greatly from these gifts will be the continuing work of the international Theological Advisory Board.

Plans for the annual convention are underway with Leonard Sweet as one of the featured speakers. This year’s theme is “Christ’s Church: with the flow or against the current? There also will be a meeting of the Theological Advisory Board providing the opportunity for a continuing education event. The convention is scheduled for the weekend after Easter, April 25-26 with the continuing education event on April 27-28.

Resolutions to be brought to the synods and the August churchwide assembly in Milwaukee are being rewritten to incorporate the strength of the Admonition and its ecclesiastical consequences. The resolutions will be available this month so that congregations, chapters, regional coordinators and synod coordinators will be able to take appropriate action.

The nominating committee is working hard to open up the process for elections at the WordAlone convention in April so that anyone interested in sharing time and talent within the Network by serving on the board can be considered for one of the four positions that will open. The education task force is busy working on an educational video. The support and resistance group continues to work with students who potentially will apply for the bylaw exception. The regional coordinators continue to work across the country meeting monthly by phone. Currently the Network has a synod coordinator in 43 of the 65 synods with an additional 10 people working in the interim until a volunteer is announced in their areas.

All of this shows how the WordAlone Network is really “above board.” Following the wisdom of the ages, form does follow function. If form does not follow function it will produce dysfunction. The board of WordAlone truly is, according to the bylaws and in reality, a policy board. The Network – all it is and all it is doing to witness across the church of Jesus Christ – is “above board.” The Network is you – one person’s witness at a time; one congregation’s action at a time; one chapter formed at a time. It is your time, your talent, your dollars that drive this movement and those will, God willing, reform and renew the Lutheran church here and abroad.