Pr. Jaynan Clark
The first quarterly meeting of 2005 for the board of directors for the WordAlone Network was held in New Rochelle, New York, on Jan. 7-8. Twice a year the board travels to an area other than New Brighton, Minn., where the office for the Network is located. These times on the road give opportunities for guests from other areas to attend the meetings and speak directly with the board. Members of the board also preach and teach in area churches on the following Sunday.
Much of the discussion during this meeting centered on the building of an association of churches. Beginning with WordAlone Network member churches as the core foundational group, the association would exist in order to bring those churches that confess a common faith into a closer working relationship with each other. The association would partner with independent Lutheran agencies for the sake of outreach, global missions, youth ministry, educational resources and so on.
The board is recommending a vote at the annual convention of the WordAlone Network at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi, Minn., on April 17-19 calling for WordAlone member churches to form the association of churches with the realization that this may lead in the future to the formation of a non-geographic synod within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
The board made one other decision regarding the 2005 annual convention that is consistent with the convention theme. WA will challenge its membership and invite all ELCA members to read through the Bible together in one year and meet weekly to discuss their reading of the Bible and pray together. The board made this decision after hearing Gracia Grindal’s report of a revival taking place in Denmark as a result of a new Bible reading movement in that country.
The theme for the annual convention of the Network will be the authority of Scripture. The keynote speakers will be Hans Hillerbrand, Craig Koester, Tom Sheehan and Vitor Westhelle. There will be one occasion for a point/counterpoint method, like we used at our 2004 convention, which should be very enlightening and educational on this most current and pivotal topic. Elections will also be held at the convention for open positions on the board. The nominating committee will be seeking some nominations of people who are members of WordAlone churches so we can increase communication and relationships with the local churches and the future association.
I will be sending a letter to all WordAlone churches urging them to send representatives to the convention. If the convention approves of the association and churches join the association, at some point in the future, the member churches of the association would vote on the matter of declaring the association to be a non-geographic synod.
The board’s recommendation to form the association is done with full commitment to the WA membership to continue WA’s work with individuals and chapters and to put an even stronger emphasis on educating all members of the ELCA.
The association would provide a place for local churches to hang their confessional hats and say, “It is here that we stand and stay, alongside these neighbors in the faith. We confess the same beliefs and want to get on with doing what Jesus has called us to do.” A summary statement of core beliefs will be presented. The association will address our convictions regarding the authority of the Word, our Lutheran understanding of church, our ministry standards, our teaching on marriage and our focus primarily on evangelism and outreach in the mission fields.
The association, though it is being started by WordAlone, would be offered to all ELCA churches as a clear option to take a stand on our faith, and in the hope of putting churches on the path to where they should be going as witnesses to society and the world. Many have said, “Something has to be done, and there needs to be a place where we can stand together.” The board hopes that WordAlone Network churches and many others will do more than just talk about the problems in the ELCA and begin to act together to be about the proper mission of the Church. The WordAlone Network can provide a service—gathering churches that choose not to just “go along to get along.”
Other items that the board addressed were a review of the plans for the WordAlone Network’s presence and participation in the churchwide assembly at Orlando in August 2005. The education task force will be working on two new video educational resources. The first DVD/video will be a follow-up to the Introduction to WordAlone video that features Mark Chavez, director. The new video will center on the Lutheran doctrine of the church, asking and answering the question, “Who and what are the church?” It also will critique the ELCA constitutional definition of the church. The other task force project will be a video response to and evaluation of the churchwide assembly.
The budget for 2005 was approved and the reports of a very good year in 2004 were received from the treasurer. The board thanks all individuals and churches who have so generously supported the on-going witness and work of the Network. Much has been done and more remains to be accomplished.
His grace and peace to you, Jaynan Clark Egland