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ELCA's commitment to starting new congregations is strong

From ELCA Blog

The Rev. Stephen Bouman and the Rev. Ruben Duran addressed the ELCA Churchwide Assembly a second time Aug. 13 — this time to talk about the ELCA’s commitment to starting new congregations. Earlier they offered a report on renewing congregations.

Since the ELCA began 25 years ago, 435 new congregations have officially organized. Today there are 330 new starts currently under development, including 56 new starts in 2012.

They reported that in the past four years, ELCA members kept their commitment that at least half of this church’s new starts is in a “situation of deep poverty” or part of “one of our ethnic strategies.”

“Congregations throughout the ELCA are at the heart of our participation in the mission of God in the world,” Duran told the assembly. “Today we say thanks for your leadership as lay and rostered leaders who are daring to be made new in your changing context.”

Duran went on to share that “given the changing nature of contexts, our leaders are also being called to invest together with synod, churchwide and ecumenical partners to explore new forms of creating emerging communities of faith where no existing congregation is present.

“Life continues to change all around us and our places of worship,” Duran said. “New start initiatives are like laboratories for new ministry experiments, which point to new ways of connecting with people, groups and changing communities.”

According to Bouman, there are 20 news starts engaging mostly the emerging young adult generation “which we call the ‘Organizing for Mission Cohort.’” There is also a group of new starts which are growing out of congregations who have left the ELCA, which are known as “New Wine Ministries,” he said, adding that there is yet another group of new starts called “Jesus and Justice Ministries.”