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Canadian Lutherans Present Themselves to LWF Assembly

The Role of a Small Church in a Diverse Nation

WINNIPEG, Canada, 22 July 2003 - A lively combination of music, drama, comedy and special effects highlighted a presentation by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) to the Lutheran World Federation (LWF)Tenth Assembly in Winnipeg, Canada last night (July 21).

Titled “The ELCIC Presents Itself,” the show attempted to give LWF delegates an impression of the role played by this small Lutheran church in a vast and diverse nation.

The ELCIC is hosting the LWF Assembly during its gathering in Winnipeg from July 21 to 31. This marks the first time the Assembly has ever met in Canada.

“We’re a very small church in a very large country,” said Richard Nostbakken, the show’s creator.  “But people in our congregations can trace their roots back to most of the countries represented in this gathering. So the ELCIC is a microcosm for the LWF itself.”

The 50-minute show featured several videos blending sound and imagery to portray the vastness of Canada and its ethnic diversity through a rapid-fire series of montages. A video of the ELCIC was backed up by a musical quartet led by Vancouver musician Steve Maddock playing a jazz rendition of “Our Love is Here to Stay.” The group also performed a jazz medley leading up to an entrance parade of the six synod and national bishops of the ELCIC. Next came a game show parody titled “Church or Consequences,” which, amid the comedy, provided information about ELCIC programs. A rousing hand-clapping jazz finale ended the evening’s performance.

Earlier in the program, a group of drummers and singers representing Canada’s First Nations people performed for the Assembly. A native elder offered a blessing to the gathering and participated in a ceremonial exchange of tobacco with ELCIC National Bishop, Raymond Schultz.

Headquartered in Winnipeg, the ELCIC is Canada’s largest Lutheran church with roughly 188,000 baptized members in 627 congregations. It came into being in 1986 through a merger of two predecessor bodies.

Lutheran roots run deep in Canada. Lutherans have been continually present in this country since 1750, when a group of German Lutherans settled in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Nostbakken, an artist from Regina, Saskatchewan, said his show sought to give an impression of Canadian Lutherans from a range of ethnic backgrounds. Fifteen different languages ranging from Finnish to Chinese, are in use in ELCIC congregations today.

The ELCIC belongs to the LWF, as well as the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches. It is in full communion with the Anglican Church of Canada, following the signing of a joint declaration in Waterloo, Ontario, in 2001.

The Tenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is taking place 21-31 July 2003 in Winnipeg, Canada, under the theme "For the Healing of the World." It is being hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

There are around 820 men, women and youth participants in the Tenth Assembly including 380 delegates from the 133 churches with full membership and three associate members. The Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the LWF, and meets normally every six years. Between Assemblies, the LWF is governed by its Council that meets annually, and by its Executive Committee.

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