Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Summer Update

It's been awhile since we posted an update, so let's call this an early-to-mid-summer recap! The board has had one conference call (in May) since the National Workshop on Christian Unity. Below you will find the update from Kathryn Lohre and Kathryn Johnson discussed at that meeting, as well as a listing of board members elected at the NWCU and officers then elected by the board. In June the board plans to participate in the Called Forward Together in Christ conversation currently taking place across the ELCA, so there will not be another update until late-July covering both June and July.

If you are the Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Representative for your synod, could we ask you to take a moment to check your contact information in the membership directory (a link is at the top of this page)? If anything is amiss, scroll down to the bottom of the page and use the "Send a Message to the Editor" feature to provide the correct information.  Having an up-to-date directory is important not only for good communication within LEIRN, but also for enabling ecumenical and inter-religious partners in your regions to contact you. Many thanks!

From Kathryn Lohre and Kathryn Johnson (aka "Team Kathryn")

As the Churchwide Assembly draws nearer, the bustle in Chicago is picking up. Our office continues to maintain some of the quiet reflecting Kathryn L’s leave – but work continues to continue.

National Workshop on Christian Unity, Louisville, KY, April 18-21
This annual opportunity for LEIRN to gather in its own sessions and to engage with others will be discussed under headings in the agenda, and indeed was experienced by most of you. Sessions on the Declaration on the Way were well-attended, and 145 complementary books from Augsburg Fortress disappeared. Chris O and Kathryn J continue on the Planning Committee for next year’s meeting in Minneapolis, chaired by Rocky Piro.

Coordinating Committee Meetings
Kathryn J attended the Lutheran Moravian Coordinating Committee meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, May 2-3. Meeting in a heart of Moravian heritage – with a day at Moravian College – the committee met with about 25 local clergy to hear about the range of ongoing collaborations. A strong personal relationship between Bishop Sam Zeiser of the Northeastern Pennsylvania synod, a member of the committee, and his Moravian counterpart David Bennett had clearly been crucially important in encouraging these partnerships. Plans were made for a similar format for next year’s meeting, in Salem, North Carolina, and there was discussion of how to commend this distinctive relationship in areas where there are some Moravians but not the historic centers or present strength of these two areas.

The following week, May 9-11, Kathryn J attended the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee in Marriottsville, Maryland. This committee spent a day visiting three very distinct Lutheran-Episcopal partnerships in the Baltimore area: two older churches, with diverse but declining memberships, who now share a single space and are coming together in worship and mission (The Churches of the Nativity and Holy Comforter, “An Episcopal-Lutheran community in Baltimore”); a “post-denominational community church” in a changing neighborhood of downtown Baltimore that seeks to be an “open, creative refuge, respectful of all beliefs” but “unashamedly followers of Christ (Church on the Square); and a community that “gathers both on-line and face-to-face in Baltimore” (The Slate Project: Christianity with a Clean Slate).

The committee adopted a resolution promising continued work toward “mutual acknowledgement of (full) communion relationships among the churches of the Porvoo Agreement, Called to Common Mission, and the Waterloo Declaration.” This mutual acknowledgement has been encouraged by international dialogue and by the Canadian counterpart of LECC in Canada.

May 16-18 Kathryn J attended a Lutheran/Episcopal Clergy Conference for Virginia judicatories. Gordon Lathrop and Neil Alexander were keynote speakers, with a focus on liturgy; the conference also engaged in mapping of partnerships and opportunities in their local areas.

Looking Ahead
Kathryn L will inaugurate a post-leave rhythm of life by speaking at the Vocation of a Lutheran College conference at Augsburg College in Minneapolis the first week of June, with a focus on inter-religious education. Attention to the resource, Engaging Others, Knowing Ourselves, continues to grow, and the Churchwide Assembly will be invited to look toward an ELCA statement on inter-religious relations.

Both Kathryns have been working on reports which will come to the LWF Council meeting at Wittenberg in June. Kathryn L has edited the report from the conference she attended in Namibia in October-November, “Global Perspectives on the Reformation: Interactions Between Theology, Politics, and Economics.” Kathryn J has provided editing help for the task force report following up on the LWF’s “Mennonite Action” in 2010.

Speaking of the Churchwide Assembly… Opportunities to participate in the Grace Gathering, and to encourage others to do so, still exist. With a focus on 2017, multiple ecumenical and inter-religious seminars will be included.

Other items from the board

Board Terms as of Louisville NWCU (2016)

board member
current term expires
Eligible for reelection?
Amanda Liggett
Mari Larson
Kristi Weber (Treas.)
Nathan Allen
Brian Wise
Chris Olkiewicz (Pres.)
Tim Philabaum (Sec.)
Wayne Zschech
Tom Prinz
Mary Finklea
John Unger
Kim Rapczak
Rocky Piro (Past Pres.)
ex officio
David Roschke
  • NWCU: Save the dates of May 1-4, 2017 in Minneapolis.
  • Possible 2018 locations are Houston and Los Angeles or Bay Area with current weight leaning more on Houston.
  • Next meeting: June 30 (devoted to Called Forward in Christ conversation)

Friday, May 20, 2016

“Hazy Hopes Taking Clear Incarnations”

The Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee met in Marriottsville, Maryland, May 9-11, 2016. This Committee is charged with encouraging and assisting efforts in The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) as they live into their relationship of full communion provided for in “Called to Common Mission.” This meeting included visits to three joint Lutheran Episcopal ministries in addition to discussions of ongoing implementation of CCM.

“The hazy hopes for CCM that we had at the beginning have taken clear incarnations. We saw this today.” This evaluation was expressed after the Committee visited three very different local ministries established during the last three years with the support of the Delaware-Maryland Synod of the ELCA and the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland:

  • The Churches of the Nativity and the Holy Comforter, “An Episcopal Lutheran Community in Baltimore,” The Rev. Stewart Lucas, Episcopal Rector, and the Rev. David Eisenhuth, Lutheran Pastor
  • The Church on the Square, Canton, Maryland, “a post-denominational community church,” The Rev. James Hamilton, Pastoral Missioner, and John Deason, Development Missioner;
  • First English Lutheran Church (sponsor), the “Slate Project,” Baltimore MD (and on the web,, Co-founders the Rev. Jason Chesnut, the Rev. Jennifer DiFrancesco, the Rev. Sara Shisler Goff.
The Committee discussed recent encouragements from a number of sources for the churches of the three (full) communion agreements to find ways to move into closer relation. This discussion was prompted in part by a letter from JALC, the Committee’s partner in Canada. The Committee encouraged the Chair to respond warmly to the invitation of JALC to work together on this project and to communicate to them this resolution:

The Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee receives with gladness the October 5, 2015, letter from the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission;

And requests that ecumenical staff of our churches continue work toward mutual acknowledgement of (full) communion relationships among the churches of the Porvoo Agreement, Called to Common Mission, and the Waterloo Declaration.

A report will be given at the next LECC meeting.

In addition, the Committee discussed a range of topics around its mandate. As Bishop Kreiss reminded the members, “we are given the care and nurture of an agreement that is of critical importance for the work of the gospel going forward in our churches. This is the path to which the Holy Spirit has called us. Our job is to help both of our traditions think creatively about what is possible and what is faithful, as we work to insure that the level of trust and intimacy between our church bodies continues to deepen. Fifteen years into CCM, we can see that this is no longer an experiment but the future of both of our churches.”

The Committee discussed ways to celebrate the 15th anniversary of CCM, challenges and opportunities for joint ministries and how to support them, creating standard guidelines and FAQs for the use of churches considering joint ministries and making the resources more accessible.

The Committee will meet next in Chicago, February 8-10 2017. Dates will be explored with JALC for a joint meeting, with times proposed during the week of November 27 - December 1, 2017.

Members of the Committee:

ELCA: Bishop Donald Kreiss (Lutheran co-chair), Rev. Lowell Almen, Dr. Mitze Budde, Bishop Claire Burkat, Rev. Natalie Hall
TEC: The Rev. Kay Beach, the Rev. Jon Perez
Staff: Dr. Kathryn Johnson (ELCA), Rev. Dr. Charles Robertson, the Rev. Margaret Rose (TEC)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Consignment copies of Engaging Others: Knowing Ourselves

If you are planning to introduce Engaging Others: Knowing Ourselves at your synod assembly or another event, here's good news from the publisher, Lutheran University Press! You may contact Karen Walhof at or 888-696-1828 and order books on consignment for your event. LUP will ship them, and you can sell them at the $10 rate, returning any unsold copies to LUP. There is no need to pay upfront.

We hope you're out there helping others engage this compelling new resource and join the conversation about our inter-religious calling and commitments.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

See you in Louisville!

It's now less than a month to go until the annual meeting of LEIRN at the National Workshop on Christian Unity. Check out our schedule below. The early-registration discount expires on March 28, so register soon at If you would like to share a room, email your name and contact info to

We anticipate the possibility of vacancies on the LEIRN board. If you are currently appointed by your bishop as the ecumenical and inter-religious representative in your synod, you are eligible for election to the board. Please consider the possibility of serving a three-year term. Nominations are scheduled for Monday afternoon.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Annual report for members of LEIRN

Dear Members of LEIRN,

Again this year we are asking all Bishop's Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Representatives to complete a short report about ministries and happenings in your synod. The report provides information that is not systematically collected by other means, offering valuable data about the ecumenical and inter-religious life of the ELCA. I encourage you to schedule a time to speak with your bishop soon to discuss the information requested in the report.

The link below will open the report form in your browser. Simply answer the questions and click "submit" when you are done. There is no need to print and email a copy to anyone. The form is even more streamlined than previous versions, so it should not take long to complete. I know it is a full time of year, especially for those in parish ministry, but if you can complete the report by April 1, it will be appreciated, as it will allow us to discuss pertinent insights at the National Workshop on Christian Unity.

Also remember that registration for the National Workshop is now open at If you would like to share a room to help reduce your expenses, send your name and email address to

Thank you for your leadership in ecumenical and inter-religious work!


Rev. Chris Olkiewicz
LEIRN President

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Register today for NWCU!

As promised, the full brochure and schedule for the 2016 National Workshop on Christian Unity is now available here . . .  Registration is also open at Register soon!

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