“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body….” “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13a; 18-20

Have you heard the phrase “the three expressions of the Church”?

This phrase describes the ministry at the local, national, and global level, and the relationship between the three expressions. We cannot do our work at the synod and congregational level without our connection to our national and global partners. And ELCA global and national ministries can’t do their work without our support at the local level! We are truly church together; doing our best work when we support ministries in our community and far beyond.

One of the ministries of the national expression is the work done by the ELCA Church Council. This Council “exercises fiduciary, strategic, and generative responsibilities to govern the ELCA churchwide organization”. The voting members of the Church Council are the four officers, the chair of the Conference of Bishops, and 32-45 individuals elected by the Churchwide Assembly. 

Hans Giller, a member of the Northwestern Ohio Synod, is currently serving on the ELCA Church Council. Continue reading to hear about his experience entering into this different way of ministering to God’s people!

My view of the ELCA has grown as I have taken on more responsibilities starting in my local church, moving on to the NW Ohio Synod, and now to the Churchwide organization. In 1998, I took on a new role in my life when I married Beth Wright, a pastor at St. Mark Lutheran in East Toledo. Being a pastor’s husband was a huge adjustment and one that I am forever grateful. I had been doing youth ministry in local churches and urban ministries since 1987 and quickly got involved as a youth ministry volunteer at St. Mark. Our church was active with the NWO Synod and I was soon volunteering with the Synod assembly and Synod youth events. In 2016, I was elected to the Bishop’s Consultation Committee and served for three years. Currently, I serve on the Disciplinary Committee for the Synod. These opportunities made me appreciate the work that the Synod does to address concerns with local congregations and the effort made to take care of these congregations and their members. These service opportunities gave me a fuller understanding of the ways in which local churches and the larger church live into their call to share the gospel.

In 2022, Bishop Beaudoin reached out to me to ask if I would prayerfully consider being a nominee for election to the Church Council at the 2022 Churchwide Assembly. I started to pray about the possibility and recognized that I had very little understanding of what the Churchwide Organization does compared to my clear understanding of the workings of the NW Ohio Synod. That year, the Churchwide Assembly was in Columbus, OH and it was an amazing experience to watch the Church, made up of folks from all over the country, do the very important work of the ELCA. When I saw my name on the screen as a newly elected member of the Church Council I was honored and excited. As I began to get texts from Synod staff and pastors, I started to get nervous about what this new role would mean for the next six years of my life and ministry.

My time serving on the ELCA’s Church Council began with me learning a lot about the ELCA, its structure, and its ministries. I was quickly introduced to the gifted, hard working, and committed Churchwide Staff. I began to see how our Synods and local churches need and are working hand in hand with the Churchwide organization. The Triennial Churchwide Assembly is the legislative organization of the ELCA and the Church Council, to which I was elected, is responsible for ensuring that decisions made by the Assembly are effectively implemented between Assemblies. Highlights of my first two years on the Council include times of worship with the Bishop, her staff, and the Council; the times of conversation with other Council members both in committee meetings and over meals; and supporting the important work of the ELCA by working alongside the Churchwide staff. I am serving on several committees on the Council, including the Christian Community and Leadership, Resource Development, and the Board Development Committees. I feel blessed to be working in my committees on addressing issues like ordination barriers, funding priorities for the ELCA, and the effectiveness of our committee and council meetings. I hear reports from our universities, camp ministries, and global ministries. We are looking at how we can address racial justice, gender equality, and fiscal responsibility in the ELCA.

I am excited to see what the next few years look like for the ELCA as we observe the work of the Commission on a Renewed Lutheran Church and what that will mean for the future of our church. Leading up to the next Churchwide Assembly, I will need to begin to step up as the Council Class of 2025 will be completing their time on Council and my class will need to take a lead. Please pray that God will prepare me to be a part of leading the Council as I keep up on my reading and learning; look to the current leadership as mentors; and pray for wisdom, understanding and discernment as I continue to work alongside the ELCA Church Council and the Churchwide Staff in doing the important work of God’s Church. 

Click here to learn more about the ELCA Church Council