This profile was last updated in 2005
Women of the ELCA is the women’s organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with over 500,000 participants of all ages throughout the United States and the Caribbean. In 2001, Women of the ELCA underwent an organizational assessment, refining its mission “to mobilize women to act boldly on their faith in Jesus Christ.” This mission built the framework for the organization’s redefined purpose of offering a place of mutual support for women to “commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts, support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.”
Building on the history of Lutheran women’s missionary movements in the ELCA’s predecessor bodies, the organization seeks to continue to respond to women’s needs as they grow in Christian discipleship. “With the great need contemporary women have for reaching out to one another around issues of faith and spirituality, Women of the ELCA need not be seen as an anachronism in the 21st century,” said Executive Director Linda Post Bushkofsky. “The organization can be a meaningful, relevant and vital community for all women of the church. The women of the church have nurtured my faith, challenged my assumptions and provoked my conscience, and I want other generations of women to have those experiences within Women of the ELCA.”
Resources and Events
At the churchwide, or national level, Women of the ELCA provides a broad range of resources, programs, publications and events – from its magazine, Lutheran Woman Today and ezine, Café – Stirring the Spirit Within, to leadership events and spiritual retreats. The national extension also organizes the triennial convention, the highest legislative body of the organization where delegates vote on critical matters and Executive Board members are elected to act on behalf of the organization in intervening years. The convention occurs within the framework of the triennial gathering, an opportunity for women of all ages to come together for fellowship, learning, worship, service and fun.
Local and Global Ministries
The organization also operates at the local level through over 7,500 congregational or special units that are organized and run by elected leaders. In turn, those local units interface with their synodical counterparts, which function as regional “program arms” for the national body. Ultimately, however, it is the local units that ensure the work of the organization, and facilitate the effectiveness of large-scale projects. The organization as a whole stays connected to global issues by working together with ministry partners such as Lutheran World Relief and Equal Exchange on projects like the 90 Ton Challenge – a recent successful fair trade coffee drive.
Like some denominational women’s organizations, Women of the ELCA is separately incorporated from the rest of the ELCA. This allows the organization to maintain fiscal autonomy regardless of denominational budgetary flux. It also allows the executive board to maintain control over the kinds of projects and programs the organization undertakes and supports.
The programmatic theme of the 2005-2008 triennium is “Act Boldly.” The theme is intended to highlight the ways and arenas in which women are called by God to live out the boldness of the gospel. Through its upcoming programs, Women of the ELCA will seek to connect women along various affinities and interests such as: global education, anti-racism, vocation, poverty mobilization, leadership, and stewardship.