The 2016 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly, by a vote of 811 to 55, approved adoption of the roster of Ministry of Word and Service.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, associates in ministry, deaconesses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and diaconal ministers will be a single, unified roster of Ministry of Word and Service. The accompanying constitutional amendments related to the roster were also considered and approved by the assembly.
“Riding the waves of decades of prayerful discussion and discernment and standing on the firm foundation laid by associates in ministry, deaconesses and diaconal ministers, we are now poised to move forward even more faithfully, energetically and creatively in being church for the sake of the world in the name and way of Jesus,” said the Rev. William O. Gafkjen, bishop of the ELCA Indiana-Kentucky Synod, chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops and co-chair of the Word and Service task force.
“I can imagine all sorts of new and creative possibilities for pastors and deacons working and leading side by side, each with their own particular gifts and call, in addressing the missional needs of the church as we walk together into God’s unfolding future. I am also hopeful that deacons, in whatever role or arena they serve, will also assist the whole people of God in living deeply into their own call to serve as Jesus serves in daily life,” continued Gafkjen.
The assembly – the highest legislative authority of the ELCA – is meeting at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Meeting under the theme “Freed and Renewed in Christ: 500 Years of God’s Grace in Action,” the assembly’s business will include preparations for observing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.