Monday, October 10, 2016

Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Witness on the Eve of the Reformation Anniversary

Join Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton on Thursday, Oct. 27, from 7-8 p.m. CDT for a live webcast that will explore ecumenical and interreligious witness on the eve of the Reformation anniversary.

What was the Reformation, and what does it mean for Lutherans and ecumenical partners?
What is “Declaration on the Way,” and why is it significant for Lutheran-Catholic relations?
What might ecumenical and interreligious relationships look like in the future, and what does this mean for our faith community?

Check back here for additional information concerning webcast participants and resources. We invite you to participate and join the conversation by using #ELCAwebcast on social media.

You are also encouraged to view the webcast with your congregation, group or committee. This may help conversation as you plan for and discuss your observation of the Reformation in 2017. Find additional information on how ELCA synods and congregations are observing the Reformation here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Additional tickets available for Malmo


Additional tickets for the Malmö arena events on October 31, 2016 have been made available for LWF member churches. The Common Prayer service at the cathedral in Lund will be live-streamed into the arena, and then Lutheran leaders and Pope Francis will proceed to the arena itself for the second part of the day in the arena. 

Initial tickets for the arena events sold out almost at once. But additional tickets are available at this site:

Please tell anyone you know who might want to attend – especially anyone who might have tried for a ticket and found them sold out at the first Ticketmaster site.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations Updates

August 2016

In II Corinthians, Chapter 5, we read: “All this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (NRSV). As we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the ministry of reconciliation was at the heart of the ELCA Churchwide Assembly’s ecumenical and inter-religious witness. We want to lift up three significant dimensions of this witness:
  • Racial justice and reconciliation
  • Reconciliation among religions
  • Reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics and among all Christians
With regard to racial justice and reconciliation: in addition to our church’s important internal work, this Assembly gave witness to our decade-long discourse with the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and our churches’ joint statement of mission, adopted in 2010. We welcomed the senior bishop, four episcopal district bishops, several general officers, and their colleagues and families as our special guests. We received the Word in worship on Thursday from Bishop George Battle, Senior Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and some of our ELCA bishops hosted our guests in order to build and nurture relationships as we look forward to strengthening our partnership in the coming years.

Next, with regard to reconciliation among religions, the Assembly received powerful greetings from
Jewish and Muslim partners – Rabbi David Sandmel of the Anti-Defamation League and Dr. Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America – who described the importance of partnership across religions lines, on common ground and through difficult differences. Bishop Eaton also invited the ELCA into conversation over the next three years about our inter-religious callings and commitments and announced a new task force on inter-religious relations which will work to draft an inter-religious policy statement that is intended to come before the 2019 Churchwide Assembly for action. She lifted up the new publication of ELCA inter-religious case studies, Engaging Others, Knowing Ourselves, as a resource for this work available from Lutheran University Press.

Finally, with regard to reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics – we turn to the historic action on the Declaration on the Way available from Augsburg Fortress. The Declaration on the Way is a

new and unique kind of ecumenical text that seeks to seal in those areas of agreement reached after 500 years of division and 50 years of dialogue. The action of the Assembly on the Declaration on the Way can be understood as one which declared that with regard to several matters concerning church, ministry, and Eucharist, there are no longer church dividing issues between us. Yes, differences remain in these and other areas – but it is important to take stock in order to acknowledge, and perhaps even celebrate, just how far we have come “on the way.”

What we witnessed afresh at the Assembly was the depth of yearning in this church to be moving forward toward reconciliation and greater unity in this crucial relationship. All our ecumenical guests, who were witnesses, and especially our Catholic participants, were surprised by the intensity of this desire for growth in communion evident in our church -- in the plenary sessions but also in two standing-room-only hearings and hallway conversations and throughout the Assembly. We can say that many of us Lutherans too were wonderfully surprised when the votes were posted: 931 votes for, 9 against. As memorable as the vote was the joy of the moment.

So what comes next? Part of that answer rests with all of us. The Assembly vote was in some ways a mandate to us to honor the desire to be “on the way together.” The Assembly also commended to the church the Declaration, with related texts, as “resources for the common life of the church as we approach 2017 and beyond.” In the press conference that followed, when Bishop Eaton was asked what might make this moment different from the other announcements of ecumenical statements that quickly faded from memory, she appealed first not to the distinctive form of the Statement or its new method, but rather to the people who had participated in the moment of that vote who would go home with that memory and that desire to continue to move forward. The experience of the hearings, where people spoke from the depth and range of their experiences, also encourages us that next steps can be taken at local levels. We are learning of many synodical engagements in preparation for the 2017 year around the country. We look forward to the journey, and invite your sharing (to about how the next steps are unfolding in your context.

In Christ,
Ms. Kathryn M. Lohre
Assistant to the Presiding Bishop
Executive, Ecumenical & Inter-Religious Relations

Dr. Kathryn L. Johnson
Director, Ecumenical & Inter-Religious Relations
Declaration on the Way Task Force

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Launching the 500th Reformation anniversary in 2017, a joint Lutheran-Catholic commemoration will take place in Lund and Malmö, Sweden, on Oct. 31, 2016. The Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) are hosting the event, highlighting solid ecumenical developments and the joint gifts received through dialogue.
Pope Francis, The Lutheran World Federation President Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan and its general secretary, the Rev. Dr. Martin Junge, will lead the Common Prayer service in Lund and the event in Malmö in cooperation with leaders from the Church of Sweden and the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm.
This historic event will bring together Lutherans and Catholics from around the world to commemorate the Reformation and look to the future.

Ways you can participate

As members of the ELCA, we are committed to fostering unity among God’s children for the sake of the world. Your gifts are needed to help continue this mission and help support the joint ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation. Your gift will help open doors to new possibilities, strengthen relationships, promote peace, reconciliation and joint diaconal work around the world.
Attend the event in the Malmö Arena. Register for updates on when tickets will become available and get the latest information at
The service in the Lund Cathedral will be live-streamed. Live-streaming the event in the Malmö Arena is being explored. Follow the live-stream jointly with an adult group or your congregation and consider inviting Catholic parishes to join in viewing. 
Find resources:

Declaration on the Way Commentary

Michael Trice has made available to us a copy of his recent article in Ecumenical Trends, "Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry, and Eucharist: A Commentary." Click here to read it.

Dr. Michael Reid Trice is Assistant Professor - Theological Ethics and Constructive Theology and Assistant Dean - Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue at the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University, Seattle, Washington.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Future directions input sought

Dear Members of the Lutheran Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Representatives Network,

As you are likely aware, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has been looking toward our future in a process named “Called Forward Together in Christ.” Many of you have no doubt offered feedback about future directions through conversations at your synod assembly or in another setting or by participating in the online survey. The LEIRN board engaged the process in June and offered input on behalf of the network.

A future directions paper that summarizes the input gathered from across the church is now available at Two statements in the section entitled “Key Messages From Across This Church” reflect the importance of ecumenical and inter-religious engagement to our self-understanding:

“Ecumenism is at the core of the ELCA’s confessions and beliefs. We are committed to our full communion partners and to dialogue with ecumenical partners locally and globally.”

“We engage in dialogue and collaboration with other faiths for the sake of justice, reconciliation and peace in the world” (p. 9).

Yet when proposed priorities for the ELCA to 2021 are articulated (p. 17), ecumenical and inter-religious work are not specifically reflected. This may be cause for some concern. If ecumenism and inter-religious work are, indeed, central to our D.N.A. as a church, as the findings above suggest, then it would seem important to state them explicitly as priorities for our forward direction.

Feedback on the proposed priorities is welcome and being received until September 9 at or via email: I encourage you to offer your feedback and specifically to call for the ELCA to deepen and expand its ecumenical and inter-religious commitments as stated priorities for the future direction of this church.

The resounding affirmation of Declaration on the Way at the 2016 Churchwide Assembly is but one manifestation of the vibrant ecumenical and inter-religious witness of the ELCA. As one committed to that work and witness, please take a moment to assure that your voice is heard at this important moment in the life of our church.

In Christ,

The Rev. Christopher Olkiewicz
President, Lutheran Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Representatives Network

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