Mikka McCracken Pairs Justice, Service, Faith as ELCA ExecutiveThe 2009 graduate and winner of the Gustavus First Decade Award has been named the Executive for Innovation and Director of the ELCA Leadership Lab.
Posted on December 6th, 2019 by

Mikke McCracken '09

Mikke McCracken '09

Gustavus Adolphus College alumna Mikka McCracken ’09 will take on a new executive leadership role at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the church announced this week. McCracken has been named the Executive for Innovation and Director of the ELCA Leadership Lab. The newly-created position calls for her to serve as a change champion, equipping and supporting the development of key leaders to address the most pressing problems of the church.

Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the ELCA, said in a church release: “The way people hear and receive the gospel is changing at an increasingly rapid rate. The competitors of the gospel are many. What hasn’t changed is the liberating good news that we are loved and are set free to serve the neighbor. The Leadership Lab gives us the space to experiment and innovate in real time so that more people can know more about Jesus and experience the love of God.”

McCracken studied political science and peace studies at Gustavus, and she highlights her experiences on the hill as key in preparing her for a life of service and faith as a leader in the ELCA.

“College is a time when you’re learning about yourself and who you are and what’s important to you,” she said. “Gustavus is where I learned that I could work in the church as a layperson who is passionate about her faith and wants to serve her community and work for excellence and justice.”

In her new role, McCracken will drive innovation across the church, helping the ELCA wrestle with big questions about its place in people’s lives, communities, and the world. As the Leadership Lab director, she will connect with others to develop a space where people can come together to be who God has called them to be as people of faith today and for the future. She will report directly to Bishop Eaton and collaborate with key leadership groups across the church.

“God creates and gifts so diversely, and it’s that breadth of faith and experience that the Leadership Lab will seek to capture,” McCracken said. “We’re going to get to know even more about our faith and who God is through this process.”

“I believe that God’s grace and love in Christ matters and I am excited to be part of Bishop Eaton’s vision for the future of this church,” she added. “The Leadership Lab will be a church-wide innovation space where people can co-create, design, and dream new and useful ideas, process, and projects. This work will be new, and different, and hard, but in a way, it’s a true call back to our Reformation roots. We want to become the innovation denomination.”

A South Korean adoptee and lifelong ELCA Lutheran, McCracken served most recently as Director for Strategy and Engagement with ELCA World Hunger, which has grown considerably over the last decade and experienced a 20 percent increase in annual giving. From 2010-2017, she served on the Lutheran World Federation international council, and currently serves on the Vorstand of the ELCA Wittenberg Center in Germany. McCracken was named a winner of the Gustavus Alumni Association’s First Decade Award this September and is currently pursuing a certificate in management excellence from Harvard Business School Executive Education.

McCracken moves into the new position next month and is excited about the opportunity to serve others and continue to act on the great challenges of our time.

“I’ve had the joy and privilege to serve with and learn from a variety of ELCA leaders—from ELCA World Hunger volunteers and community food pantries to synods, congregations and global companions, and I can tell you that the creativity and courage of those leaders is what innovation is all about. That’s what I hope to bring to this role. We are freed by grace through faith to love and serve our neighbors. ” McCracken said. “The only measure of my faith is the wellbeing of my neighbor—and that’s a message this world desperately needs to hear.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.5 million members in more than 9,100 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God’s work. Our hands.,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA’s roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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