Saturday, April 22, 2006
During the first business session of the ABC District convention currently meeting in Red Deer, Alberta, the 179 voting delegates elected Rev. Donald Schiemann to his third term as district president. The president thanked the delegates for the confidence they placed in him saying that it was a “joy and privilege” to serve the church and he prayed for God’s continued grace and strength.
Subsequent elections saw Rev. Mark Ruf (Grace, Calgary) elected first vice-president; Rev. Harry Haberstock (Redeemer, Creston, B.C.) elected second vice president; and Rev. Forrest Stroup (Bethlehem, Edmonton) elected third vice-president. Rev Wayne Lunderby (St. Paul’s, Chilliwack, B.C.) was elected secretary.
In a series of greetings early in the session, delegates heard from the president of Concordia University College of Alberta, Rev. Dr. Richard Kraemer. In three weeks the university college will confer degrees on 378 graduates. During his remarks, acting president of Concordia Lutheran Seminary (CLS), Rev. Dr. Edward Kettner noted that close to 50 percent of the pastors currently serving in the ABC District are graduates of CLS. Rev. Dr. Edwin Lehman, president of Concordia Lutheran Mission Society spoke of the auxiliary’s mandate to fund overseas mission projects and conduct mission education.
Delegates also heard greetings from the mayor of Red Deer and the local member of parliament. President Schiemann read letters of greeting from Rev. Tom Prachar, Central District president, and Rev. Allen Maleske, president of LCC's East District.
Convention essayist, Rev. Dr. Donald Mossman presented his first essay based on the convention theme with the title The Changeless Gospel in a Changing World. He traced the history of Lutherans and immigration in western Canada, providing contrasts between the society and culture of the original settlers more than 100 years ago with that of 50 years and current societal and cultural trends. His essay touched on how new Canadians bring different religious traditions to the country and how many Canadians take a consumer approach to their spiritual life. He believes Canada is a religious country with secular elite and that the “problem isn’t godlessness, but multiplication of gods...pluralism...and marketplace religion and morality.”
While many in the church attempt to reach current society with a Gospel that is based on what Mossman called “fuzzy theology.” In a country where tolerance is highly valued and Jesus is seen as one of many options he reminded delegates that “when our Lord says ‘I am the way the truth and the life no one comes to the father but by me,’ you know He is not just a shower of the way or one of a number of ways to salvation. He is not a detour around suffering and death, He is the way, the truth and the life.”
Following a resolution adopted by the Synod convention in June 2005, each district is to invite at least one missionary to address the district conventions. Rev. Sandor Arguello, LCC missionary to Nicaragua spoke to the ABC convention, detailing the work of God in Central America. Rather than spending money on tote bags for the convention, the district Church Extension Fund donated $3500 to help pay for the newly-constructed Central America mission station in Chinandega, Nicaragua. Rev. Arquello accepted the cheque from Janice Ruf, the ABC CEF manager.
The convention adopted three resolutions in its afternoon session. The first was in response to the federal Liberal government’s redefinition of marriage and the new government’s election promise to revisit the issue with a free vote. The resolves ask the president to write to the minister of justice and the Prime Minister; ask congregations to write letters to MPs; encourages congregations to conduct Bible studies, provide educational materials and deliver sermons reaffirming the Scriptural definition of marriage so that laity can speak to the issue. The final resolve encourages congregations to pass resolutions reaffirming the Scriptural definition of marriage. The resolution passed following some editorial changes and requests for clarifications.
Affirming the district’s desire to reach out more effectively with the Gospel, outreach executive Rev. Dr. Glenn Schaeffer outlined the need for congregations to “multiply” their efforts in all areas including such things as evangelism training, servant events, community outreach, Bible study, prayer, giving and our understanding of our culture and society. Delegates adopted a resolution which asks the district to initiate a 12-year program that will help congregations multiply their current efforts. The multiply movement would peak in 2017, the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the reformation.
The balance of the day was spent in workshops and information sessions. An evening mission festival divided delegates in groups, and provided them with information about various cultures and then invited them to share that information with each other.
The day ended with the first Canadian showing of the film End of the Spear. It is the story of Mincayani, a Waodani tribesman from the jungles of Ecuador. When five young missionaries, among them Jim Elliot and Nate Saint, are speared to death by the Waodani in 1956, a series of events unfold to change the lives of not only the slain missionaries' families, but also Mincayani and his people.