Saturday, March 14, 2015

Join the Luther Reading Challenge!

What did Martin Luther really say in the 95 Theses?
Is it true he had a special affection for the Virgin Mary?
Did he think the Old Testament was all law and no gospel?
What was his advice concerning prayer?
Did he advocate good works?
Why was the real presence of Christ the center of all his thinking?
How did his last will and testament break the law (in favor of his wife)?

What did Luther actually say and think?

As the Reformation anniversary in October 2017 draws near, Martin Luther will be a hot topic of conversation. Lutheran churches are already asking themselves how to commemorate the big event. It’s not too early to start preparing! And what better way to do so than actually to read and discuss Luther’s own words?

That’s where the Luther Reading Challenge comes in. Sign up for a free account and join countless other readers around the world in reading, discussing, and reflecting on Luther’s important writings!

Each text begins with an introduction, giving its context and key themes. You can add marginal comments, respond to others’ remarks, and raise your own questions. You can also tailor your own profile to share and connect with others.

In time there will also be a blog, other languages, and even gamification elements!

Join today!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Coming Soon: National Workshop on Christian Unity

We hope you already know about and have made plans to attend this years National Workshop on Christian Unity and annual meeting of the Lutheran Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Representatives Network in Charlotte, North Carolina from April 20 through 23. If you have not yet taken a moment to register, please do so soon at Note that the registration deadline is April 1.

Registration for both the Workshop and LEIRN meeting can be accomplished through the website and with a single payment. You will also find there a link for making a room reservation at the Omni Hotel. If you are interested in sharing a room, please email me at I am keeping a list of those who have requested roommates and will do my best to get you connected with someone.

If you are a past Workshop participant, you should have received a print brochure a couple of weeks ago. The full Workshop schedule is also available at of course, and the schedule of LEIRN events is below. As you can see, we look forward to updates from ELCA staff, conversation on initiatives to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, an in-depth focus on the inter-religious aspect of our work, and dialogue and learning on many other important topics.

Check back here regularly for updates as we near our time together in Charlotte, and let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to seeing you in April!

Chris Olkiewicz -- LEIRN President

Monday, April 20

Executive Board Meeting
Newcomers Luncheon

If you are new to LEIRN, meet in the hotel lobby at noon and enjoy a welcome lunch with the board. Our treat!

Plenary 1 -- Briefing by ELCA Staff

Kathryn Lohre and Don McCoid review the work of ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations and engage in conversation with the network.

Marcus Kunz, the ELCA’s Executive for Theological Discernment, will discuss Churchwide initiatives around the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.
8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
10:00 - 11:45 a.m.
12:00 - 1:15 p.m.

2:00 - 4:45 p.m.

Tuesday, April 21

Joint Plenary -- Reform, Reformers, Reformations

Using a study guide to From Conflict to Communion, LEIRN and CADEIO will explore a model for engaging in local conversations about “reformation."
3:30 - 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday, April 22

Plenary 2 -- Shoulder-to-Shoulder Campaign

Campaign Director Catherine Orsborn will share information about the Shoulder-to-Shoulder Campaign and help us consider ways of standing alongside American Muslims in upholding our mutual values of religious freedom and human dignity. You may wish to attend Dr. Orsborn’s Workshop seminar for additional information.

Plenary 3 -- “The Church: Toward a Common Vision”

Cheryl M. Peterson from Trinity Lutheran Seminary will lead us in a discussion of the ELCA response to this World Council of Churches paper. This is a continuation of the panel discussion at Wednesday’s plenary luncheon. (The document is available here . . .)

Network business/elections
2:00 - 3:15 p.m.

4:15 - 5:00 p.m.

5:00 - 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 23

Executive Board Meeting
2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ecumenical News from the PC (USA)

Click here to read the most recent issue of Ecumenical News from our full-communion partner, the Presbyterian Church (USA) . . .

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Roommate connections

As you register for the NWCU, please contact me if you would be interested in sharing a room with another participant to help lower your costs. I will try to connect those with similar requests. You may email me at 

Chris Olkiewicz

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

NWCU registration is OPEN!

It's now time to make your way to to register for the Workshop and annual meeting of LEIRN. The entire registration process is done through the NWCU website. Please register soon and  share this information with your networks. See you in Charlotte!

Monday, January 26, 2015

49th International Ecumenical Seminar 2015

"Ecumenism in the Arts" is the topic for this summer's seminar at the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg. Follow this link for more information . . .

January update

From Don McCoid

At the time of our meeting, Kathryn was accompanying Bishop Eaton and others on a trip to the Holy Land and was not able to join us. More info. below.

The Ecclesiology Task Force met December 18-19. There will be a recommendation to the Church Council and the next ELCA Assembly to add both the LWF (our communion of churches) and the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” church to Chapter 3 – on the Nature of the Church!

Study Guide for From Conflict to Communion is now completed. It will be formatted before it is copied, printed, and available.

Pittsburgh ELCA and Catholic clergy will meet for a renewal day on April 29th. Dr. Timothy Wengert and Fr. John Crossin will make presentations. We will discuss From Conflict to Communion and “help” local clergy to implement how to study this document together. Bishops from the SW PA Synod, the Pittsburgh Diocese, Greensburg Diocese, and Byzantine Archdiocese will be present.

The Declaration on the Way task force meets in Washington, D.C. on January 28-31.  The major parts of the Declaration will include:

  • The work of national and international dialogues that we believe we have come to sufficient agreement so that these issues are no longer church dividing:
    • Ecclesiology
    • Ministry
    • Eucharist
  • Remaining differences and possible ways forward in resolving them
  • Pastoral Implications for our living and witnessing together as we continue In Via
We have great scholars working on this major project. The three groups will need to put their work together so that it flows smoothly and covers the parts of the Declaration listed above.

Ecumenical Journey will be from February 1-13. It will be a significant trip for our Presiding Bishop, as well as other leaders in our church.

Middle East Trip  -  Kathryn is currently accompanying Bishop Eaton and others on a trip to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordon and the Holy Land, and visiting key leaders and places.  Following an 18-hour day, she shared where they had traveled on Tuesday:
. . . a tour of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, audience with the Director General of the mosque, audiences with the Greek Orthodox, Latin, and Armenian Patriarchs, visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, conversation with Mitri Raheb and tour of Dar Al-Kalima College, and dinner with the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land.
Of course, discussions and engagements with religious leaders are vital. She will have a number of things to share when LEIRN meets again.

Churches Uniting in Christ (CUIC) – Kathryn participated in the CUIC Coordinating Council December 10-12 in Florida. Members participated in a racial justice training, and discussed their commitments and expectations for CUIC. A summit, including heads of communion, will be held in 2015, in order to continue this conversation and to make strategic decisions for the future. 

Other board meeting highlights

    • There will be a significant presence of evangelicals at this year's NWCU in Charlotte and the beginning of an evangelical network that will continue to be engaged with the NWCU. This is a welcome development!
    • The NWCU registration fee will increase slightly this year to cover the cost of the luncheons that we all share.
    • We are able to charge a one-day fee for local people who participate in the Workshop and waive the fee for students.
    • As soon as the brochure is ready, the National Planning Committee will do a mailing to everyone in the NWCU database that should hit all past participants.
    • NWCU and LEIRN registration can all be done electronically this year (finally!) from
    • Rocky Piro and Mary Finklea will represent LEIRN at the EDEIO Executive Board meeting in Delray Beach Florida, February 2-5, along with representatives of UMEIT and CADEIO. They will continue to develop the agenda for the LEIRN plenaries at the NWCU. As soon as that schedule is complete, details will be shared here.
    • Our condolences to LEIRN Secretary Tim Philabaum on the death of his father, the Rev. Bernie Philabaum. Rest eternal grant unto him, and let light perpetual shine upon him.

Next meeting: February 20, 2015 at 10:30 EST

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