1. Who started the Renewing the Ecology of the ELCA Task Force?

The ELCA Church Council authorized the Office of the Presiding Bishop, in collaboration with the Executive Committee of the Church Council and the Conference of Bishops, to appoint the Task Force.

2. What is the purpose of the Task Force?

The purpose of the Task Force is to develop and recommend options for the future of the ELCA in light of its identity, changes in its environment and its call to God’s mission.

3. What are hoped for outcomes?

The Task Force will report to the Church Council with a report and recommendations on how to position this church in the future for new possibilities for participating in God’s mission.

4. How will members of the ELCA be involved with the work of the Task Force?

Synod assemblies and many other gatherings and meetings, particularly those centering on congregations, will be engaged in conversation with the Task Force. Congregations are encouraged to give members opportunity to talk about the discussion questions and share their thoughts with the Task Force.  All people are invited to engage in the web platforms (Facebook, Twitter, website) or send an email to

5. What’s the timeline for this group?

The Task Force will meet monthly. It will regularly send  reports to the Conference of Bishops and Church Council for the purpose of feedback and to prepare a report and recommendations for action at the August 2011 Churchwide Assembly.

6. What is the scope of the Task Force’s work?

The Task Force will be led by these overarching questions:

What is God calling this church to be and to do in the future?

What changes are in order to help us respond most faithfully?

In responding to those questions the Task Force, as stated in its Charter, “will…recognize the evolving societal and economic changes of the twenty years since the formation of this church, and … evaluate the organization, governance and interrelationships among this church’s expressions in the light of those changes. “

7. What is the role of the Presiding Bishop, Conference of Bishops, Church Council?

The Task Force will regularly communicate with the Presiding Bishop, Conference of Bishops and Church Council throughout its work. The Church Council will receive the final report and recommendations for possible Churchwide Assembly action in August, 2011.

8. Why is it called the Renewing the Ecology of the ELCA Task Force”?

The Task Force is studying the ELCA congregations, synods, churchwide agencies, and partners as an “ecosystem” of interrelated ministries. 

9. Is this study looking at reducing the number of synods?

All topics and questions are on the table. However any change to structure of the ELCA will be recommended in light of a broader vision. This is not simply an effort to restructure or otherwise streamline the ELCA.

10. Is this study a result of the Churchwide Assembly votes and the loss of congregations?

The Task Force was authorized at the March 2009 ELCA Church Council meeting; five months prior to the Churchwide Assembly.  The results of the votes have impacted relationships within congregations and across this church; this may be part of the task force’s conversations, but will not dictate them.

11. What impact will it have on congregations and synods?

The Task Force needs input from all ELCA members and organizations to guide its work.  The impact of the Task Force’s work will depend on the implementation of its report and recommendations as decided by the Churchwide Assembly.

12. What similar studies have other denominations done?

Similar studies have been or are being done by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Seventh-day Adventist, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the United Methodist Church. The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod completed a similar study in October 2009.  You can read more about it here.

13. How can my congregation support the efforts of the Task Force?
The prayers of this church are welcome for the work of the Task Force.  ELCA members are strongly encouraged to offer input and suggestions for the Task Force through this website, Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail. Congregations are encouraged to give members opportunity to talk about the discussion questions and share their thoughts with the Task Force.

14. How does the work of this Task Force connect with or relate to the restructuring work that has already been done?

The Task Force will review past decisions about church structure, but will first consider the identity of the ELCA in its new environment and then make recommendations on how the ELCA can best participate in God’s mission.

15. How will the existing policies, social statements and polity of the ELCA be considered in the work of the Task Force?

The Task Force will be incorporating all of these existing elements in its study.

16. What is the budget for the Task Force?

The estimated cost of the Task Force’s work is $170,000.  This includes expenses for staff support, travel, task force meetings, and research services.  Funds for consultant fees will come from external sources.

What questions do YOU have for the Ecology of the ELCA task force?  Offer them below.


10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Michael Haliena on March 26, 2010 at 8:51 am

    In my mind it is too bad the ELCA didn’t perform this study before they had the assembly vote in August.


    • The process began in March 2009 in the hopes of looking to the future of the ELCA after the Churchwide Assembly in August. We’re looking forward to your feedback!


  2. Posted by Brian Taylor on March 26, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Maybe they should consider guidelines for when a congregation should consider merging or forming two point parishes. (size of worship attendance, proximinity of other ELCA churches, mission possibilities with the sale of one of the properties, etc.) We can’t force congregations to merge but perhaps we can set forth a vision of how that better serves the kingdom and is good stewardship.


  3. Posted by Michael Kohn on April 18, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Thanks for doing the heavy LIFT-ing for all of us. Your survey was especially helpful to me to complete because it really caused me to listen for what I hear God saying is the most important thing for us to be about as congregations, synods, and churchwide.


  4. Posted by Adam Sornchai on May 30, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    In regards to the reduction of the number of Synods in the ELCA.

    On the one hand it may make sense in some areas to merge synods. In other areas it may not.

    One of my concerns with fewer Synods is that that synod staffs are shorthanded as it is. Giving them more territory to cover with a small staff will put even more stress on them. Not to mention that pastors and congregations are not getting the administrative and pastoral guidance that they need. I feel that our mission as a church would suffer.


  5. Posted by Roy Gulliford on July 6, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Give Synods more authority and resources with less focus on Higgens Road. Give more voice to locals re. ministry in areas. Lift value of professionals to at least that of laity. Don’t be fooled into accepting old myth that Church should be run like a business-we’re not, thank God! Let’s be centered on prophetic proclaimation and ministering to the hurts of mankind rather than developing cutsie liturgies and ceremonies. We’re an out of power Remnent, lets enjoy the freedom to be more Christ-like.


  6. Posted by diane on August 8, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    I like want elca is trying to do but what good is if the paster doesn’t change and make it more to come to. He’s kinda old fashion in his ways


  7. Posted by Dean Peterson on September 16, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Having served as a pastor for 40+ years, I seriously question the decisions we made to have more synods rather than fewer…tends to isolate bishops as well as congregations….we don’t have opportunity to hear first hand those stories as we used to when attending synod assemblies…now we suffer from too much overhead….it is not a question of being successful, but being faithful and accountable to whole church rather than to my “flock” only.


  8. Posted by Nancy on September 19, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    I think it’s a shame that our congregation does not receive anything from the ELCA via our Pastor including the forming of this task force. Instead only the agenda to leave and form a new church!


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