Saturday, November 11, 2017

Reformation 500 Commemoration Events

We are now posting sermons and bulletins from Reformation 500 commemoration services and events in the Reformation 500+ section above. If you have a sermon manuscript, a bulletin, or other material that you would like to share, email it to me at Let us see what you did and inspire us with your witness to Christian unity!

With thanks,

Chris Olkiewicz

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Summer 2017 update

Ecumenical & Inter-Religious Relations

Staff Report to LEIRN Board

August 2017

Reformation Day Public Witness Event

On Reformation Day, Tuesday, October 31, Presiding Bishop Eaton will join Conference of Bishops’ Chair Bill Gafkjen, Vice President Bill Horne, and Metro DC Synod Bishop Dick Graham in co-hosting a day-long public witness event concluding with worship at Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill, DC. 

The event, “Looking Back & Called Forward: ELCA 500” will provide an opportunity to consider 500 years of Reformation through the lens of 50+ years of ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, and look to the future to which Christ is calling us. Bishop Denis Madden will be among the ecumenical and inter-religious guests featured in the program. Lutheran-Jewish and Lutheran-Muslim relations will also be spotlighted, as will partnerships with the Historic Black Churches and within the ELCA toward racial justice and reconciliation.

The event is free and open to the public, and includes lunch. It will also be livestreamed. For more information and to register go to: 

Lutheran World Federation Assembly

In May 2017, the 12th LWF Assembly took place in Windhoek, Namibia, under the theme, “Liberated by God’s Grace.” Bishop Eaton led the ELCA delegation which included nine other delegates (amongst them Chris O.) as well as current and former officers, advisors and translators. Youth and women’s pre-assemblies provided an opportunity for relationship-building, deeper exploration of the theme and sub-themes, and generative work to guide the life and legislative work of the larger Assembly.  

On Sunday, May 14 the Assembly gathered in Sam Nujoma Stadium, joined by thousands of Namibians and Africans from across the continent, for a celebratory worship service to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The liturgy, which had been developed by Luther Seminary Prof. Dirk Lange, served as a focal point for the Assembly, weaving together the theme and sub-themes through regional testimonies and the rousing preaching of Namibia bishop emeritus Zephania Kameeta. Other memorable moments included Cardinal Kurt Koch reading the creedal questions, Bishop Susan Johnson presiding and thousands of Lutherans from around the global streaming through for communion, the stunning array of local musical groups in the cultural program that followed, which had many of the LWF heads of communion (including our own) dancing to the beat. 

The Assembly plenaries and workshops focused on the theme and sub-themes, “Salvation – Not For Sale,” “Human Beings – Not For Sale,” and “Creation – Not For Sale.” Each of the speakers and presenters were top-notch. Pastor Monica Villareal, pastor of Salem Lutheran Church in Flint, Michigan and ELCA delegate, spoke on the “Creation” sub-theme, sharing about the water crisis and its racial dimensions, and giving testimony to the ways in which US Lutherans very much need the global communion in these difficult times as a source of support and accountability. 

The Assembly honored the remarkable service of its outgoing president, Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, and elected his successor, Nigerian Archbishop Musa Panti Filibus. A new Council was also elected, including for the ELCA: Presiding Bishop Eaton, Rev. Dr. Robin Steinke, Rev. William Flippin, and Ms. Cheryl Phillip. In its first meeting immediately following the Assembly, the new Council elected its regional vice presidents, with Bishop Eaton succeeding Bishop Johnson for the North American region. Pastor Lydia Posselt of Family of God Lutheran Church in Buckingham, PA, was the preacher at the closing worship service, selected from amongst 10 finalists in the LWF’s young adult preaching contest. 

Namibia, a beautiful country with a rich Lutheran history, provided a remarkable context for this forward-looking Assembly, and symbolized the ways in which the global Lutheran movement is growing most strongly in the global south, especially in Africa and Asia. The ELCA and its predecessor bodies have long been involved in the movements for liberation and justice in Namibia. This became particularly evident during a reception that was hosted by Bishop Eaton to honor the numerous Namibian graduates of ELCA colleges. A scholarship program had been established through the leadership of Jim Unglaube, who then served on the churchwide staff, as a proactive approach to forming the next generation of leadership. As the introductions and updates were shared, it was astonishing to hear of the impact these individuals have had on nation-building as they have undertaken vocations in various government ministries, and public sectors including education and health care. It was a reminder of the important place of church in peacebuilding. 

Photos, videos, press releases, and the broad array of public statements issued by the Assembly can be found at: 

Churches Uniting in Christ

On Pentecost Sunday, the eleven denominations of Churches Uniting in Christ gathered at Christian Chapel Temple of Faith in Dallas, Texas for a celebratory worship service of mutual recognition of ministries. Bishop Eaton joined her counterparts in leading worship, which consisted of three litanies (of confession, recognition, and commitment), three sermons! (Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, Stated Clerk of the PCUSA; Rev. Dr. Jennifer Leath of the AME, and Rev. Dr. Keith Watkins of the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ and historian of the Consultation on Church Union), and the Eucharist. Notably, CUIC is unique insofar as it is a multi-lateral ecumenical table at which the Eucharist is celebrated and received. 

The day before, the churches engaged in a series of panel discussions on systemic racism within immigration and criminal justice. Kathryn L moderated the panels, and Bishop Erik Gronberg of the Northern Texas – Northern Louisiana Synod was a speaker, who gave powerful witness to our church’s challenges and commitments with regard to racial justice and reconciliation.

Synod Assemblies

Both Kathryns attended synod assemblies again this year as Churchwide representatives, and lifted up the work of ecumenical and inter-religious relations in the context of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in churchwide reports, workshops, and hallway conversations. Kathryn J. was with the Metro New York and Allegheny Synods, and Kathryn L was with the Metro Chicago Synod, where she was also the keynote speaker. We look forward to these assemblies as opportunities to learn about and connect with what is happening locally, and to lift up the current leadership and possibilities for LEIRN. 

Partner Churches’ National Assemblies

In June, Kathryn L. attended the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America in Holland, Michigan. She was invited to speak to the importance of our full communion partnership in an
evening honoring the churches’ ecumenical relations. (This was an important request, given the church’s continued diversity of opinions about our full communion partners, and the continued strengthening of relations with the Christian Reformed Church.) There was also an opportunity to honor and thank the outgoing General Secretary Tom DeVries, who resigned his post in order to take up the role of President & CEO of the Willow Creek Organization. Interim General Secretary Don Poest will serve until the next General Synod, when an election will occur. Significant action was taken in support of refugees, calling for further ecumenical partnership in this area of ministry. After hours of painful discussion, the General Synod took an action to define marriage as between a woman and a man, affirming that the Heidelberg Catechism in Q&A 108 and 109, “categorically states that God condemns all ‘unchastity,’ which includes same sex sexual activity” (R 17-61). On the last morning, they elected the 2018 General Synod Vice President, James Nakakihara, the first person of color to serve in this role. 

With Bishop Bill Gohl from the Delaware-Maryland synod, Kathryn J. attended the biennial General Synod of the United Church of Christ in Baltimore in June.  New branding efforts lift up the theme of “A Just World for All.” 

Kathryn L. attended the ecumenical evening of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) General Assembly, especially to honor the outgoing General Minister and President, the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, who is also the current chair of the board of the National Council of Churches. The General Assembly elected Rev. Teresa Hord Owens to succeed Sharon, the first female of color, and the first woman to succeed a woman in the role. The atmosphere was celebratory and hopeful. 

Kathryn J. attended the National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada in July, where she brought greetings from the ELCA and participated in a panel on ecumenical prospects going forward from 2017. Taking its theme from the LWF language of “Liberated by God’s Grace,” the ELCIC is conducting a 500th anniversary challenge; the video, which emphasizes receiving refugees, can be seen at

The North American Lutheran Church held its annual week of lectures and Convocation in Nashville in August, with the theme of “Holding Fast: Being (Re)Formed.” The ELCA was represented by the Rev. Marcus Kunz, who has assumed this role for several of their meetings. 

Islamic Society of North America Convention

As part of our commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the ELCA had a
significant presence at the annual ISNA Convention, held again this year in Rosemont, Illinois. Bishop Eaton and Kathryn L. attended together with Bishop Rick Jaech (Southwestern Washington Synod) and Bishop Claire Burkat (Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod) and her colleague from the Council of Religious Leaders of Greater Philadelphia, Imam Anwar. Following Jum’mah prayers, Bishop Eaton joined other government and religious leaders in offering greetings during the opening plenary, and she was invited to do so again later than evening during the larger mainstage event. The following day, the ELCA delegation attended the Community Service Recognition Luncheon, at which activist Linda Sarsour (co-organizer of the Women’s March) gave the keynote address, and Dr. Sayyid Syeed was honored for his longstanding leadership of ISNA as he approaches his retirement at year-end. 

By design, Sunday evening’s interfaith unity banquet spotlighted Lutheran-Muslim relations, and was attended by nearly 70 ELCA Lutherans, including pastors, scholars (especially from LSTC and the Center for Christian-Muslim Engagement), and interfaith activists, including LEIRN rep Rev. Brian
Wise. The ELCA bishops, joined by Bishop Wayne Miller of Metro Chicago, shared their inspiring and hopeful stories of Lutheran-Muslim relations between congregations and mosques, city-based inter-religious councils, seminaries, non-profit organizations (see:, and individuals. Bishop Eaton was honored to receive ISNA’s interfaith unity award. In her remarks, she reaffirmed our commitments to these relations through education, dialogue, and engagement, now more than ever, and named the significant challenges and opportunities we face in the current climate of rising Islamophobia. Coincidentally, the story of ELCA Intern Pastor Mandy France (who was the student at NWCU) and Dr. Ayaz Virji’s story of Lutheran-Muslim relations in rural Minnesota was front page Washington Post news that day, and so we were able to share that in the spirit of our broader commitments. They will tell their story as part of the Reformation Day event in DC. It was a remarkable weekend to honor our shared commitments, to celebrate what we have accomplished together, and to look forward to the future ahead of us. 

African Descent Lutheran Association

For the first time, the biennial assembly of the African Descent Lutheran Association was held jointly with the Union of Black Episcopalians in Cherry Hill, NJ and Philadelphia. This gathering also honored 30 years of ADLA presence within the ELCA and its predecessor bodies. The theme was, “Like a Mighty Stream, Let Justice Roll: Absalom, Jehu, and Beyond,” honoring the forbears in the faith, especially those pioneers of African Descent within each tradition, current leadership, and the call to ongoing formation and support of future leaders. Closing worship was held at the historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, as TEC Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached, and Bishop Eaton presided. The presence and leadership of several ELCA Bishops sent a strong message about the importance of ADLA within the ELCA and our ecumenical partnerships in building the Beloved Community. 

Rostered Ministers Gathering 

Both Kathryns attended the first Rostered Ministers Gathering in Atlanta in August, a diverse, enthusiastic, and well-attended event. We supported the ecumenical and inter-religious formation of rostered ministers by hosting an exhibit table and an affinity group under the LEIRN name, and by leading workshops. Kathryn J.’s focused on Lutheran-Catholic relations in this anniversary year, and Kathryn L.’s focused on Lutheran-Jewish and Lutheran Muslim Relations, and what it means to be Lutheran in a multi-religious world. We are grateful for opportunities to lift up both our ecumenical and our inter-religious relations as part of how the ELCA is commemorating the 500th anniversary and participating in the ongoing reformation. 

Inter-Religious Task Force

The drafting team of the Inter-Religious Task Force met in person in June and by teleconference in July as work toward the first draft of the policy statement moved forward in significant ways. A format and framework for the document were developed and refined. The first full draft of the text will be shared with the full task force next week. After a conference call in early September, final
revisions will begin anticipating the next meeting of the Task Force in early November. Currently, the ground work is being laid for various consultations that will need to take place this fall anticipating a public comment period across the whole church over the winter months. The LEIRN Board and select ecumenical and inter-religious partners will likely be invited into the advance consultation, so please stay tuned. 

Lutheran-Catholic Relations 

The current round of Lutheran-Catholic dialogue is approaching its conclusion, and a drafting team is working on its report on Faithful Teaching.  This round is co-chaired by the Rev. Lowell Almen and, since 2016, by Bishop Denis Madden. (Both Bishop Eaton and Kathryn J. helped celebrate the 50th anniversary of his ordination with Mass in the Baltimore cathedral in June.)

Kathryn J. participated at a seminar at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem in July around the current state of ecumenical discussion on “communion.”  The seminar was organized by the University of Notre Dame and followed up on questions central to the Declaration on the Way and, more broadly, to the ecclesial dimensions of the quest for Christian unity. Bishop Madden, who was to have shared the Lutheran-Catholic day of presentation, was unable to attend at the last minute. 

Full Communion Updates

The Lutheran-Moravian Coordinating Committee met in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in May.  This meeting was second in a series of three which focus on local contexts in which Lutherans and Moravian live side by side in considerable numbers, and seeks to further collaboration between the communities toward reception of our full communion agreement.  Next year, they will conclude the series by meeting in Wisconsin, where there is less visible Moravian presence.

We continue to be part of the consultation with the ELCA’s Entrance Rite Discernment Group, which explores implications of the new roster for Ministers of Word and Service (deacons). Our full communion partners especially have obvious interests in these decisions, and will be invited to participate in the feedback process developed by the Group.

Global Christian Forum

Kathryn J has continued to be active this summer with the Global Christian Forum, the international body which seeks to reflect the shape of fast-changing world Christianity. She participated in May in a consultation at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute in Switzerland, which for the first time had around the table leadership from the World Council of Churches, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Pentecostal World Fellowship, and the World Evangelical Alliance. They discussed the unique role which the GCF can play in deepening these relationships.

One example of these efforts was a delicate consultation on “Call to Mission and Perceptions of Proselytism,” hosted at the Church of Pentecost campus near Accra, Ghana, which Kathryn attended in June. She continues to work with the GCF to plan its third Global Gathering in Bogata, Columbia, in spring 2018, which concludes her term with this body.

Other board highlights

  • It's not too late for members to complete an annual report, reflecting on work in their synods in 2016-17. Results will be compiled and discussed at the September 21 board meeting. The annual report is accessible here:
  • The NWCU planning committee -- including Kathryn Johnson, Rocky Piro, and Chris Olkiewicz from ELCA/LEIRN -- met August 28-30 in Silver Spring, MD, the site of the 2018 Workshop. Lisa Sharon Harper is confirmed as theologian in residence. Additional time will be spent in joint network plenaries this year.
  • A brief survey from the Presbyterian Church (USA) will be shared soon with LEIRN members. It seeks to identify possible areas of collaboration at the middle judicatory level and will not take long to complete.
  • Next meeting: September 21.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Save the date for NWCU 2018

National Workshop on Christian Unity 2018
Silver Spring, MD
April 16 - 19

The annual meeting of LEIRN is held at the NWCU along with the Episcopal, Catholic, Methodist, and Evangelical networks.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

NWCU Report

Ecumenical & Inter-Religious Relations Staff Report to LEIRN
National Workshop on Christian Unity
Minneapolis, Minnesota; May 1, 2017

We celebrate Bishop Eaton’s presence at our LEIRN session and look forward to the Tuesday morning plenary, when she and Bishop Denis Madden will lead reflections on “After 500 Years: Catholics and Lutherans Together on the Way.”



Lutheran-Catholic Relations/500th Anniversary of the Reformation
The anniversary year is giving prominence to this relationship, and participation in anniversary events continues at all levels of this church. Keep up with events through Our office welcomes reports of activities in your synods or local settings: please send them to
C:\Users\Kathryn_Lohre\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\Common Prayer Service_ELCA and Catholic CoB_10.jpgOn March 2, the ELCA Conference of Bishops’ Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations Committee hosted a joint meeting with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Committee. The committees adopted a joint statement on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation (in your folders) and co-hosted a Lutheran-Catholic service of common prayer in the Lutheran Center chapel, following the Common Prayer liturgy developed for the commemoration held in Lund, Sweden last October 31, and based on the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue report, From Conflict to Communion. Full communion and ecumenical dialogue partners were present as special guests. The service was followed by a festive reception and dinner. A video of the service, the service program booklet, and the signed joint statement are available at:
Events of the Joint Ecumenical Commemoration of the Reformation in Sweden on October 31, 2016, can be seen at The press conference is also interesting:
You might also enjoy Bishop Eaton’s Webcast, “Ecumenical Witness and the Reformation,” October 27, 2016:
On Good Friday, April 14, Bishop Eaton together with Bishop Wayne Miller of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod, other synod leaders and churchwide staff participated in a “Walk for Peace” initiated by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich. A week prior, the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago launched an anti-violence initiative in the city of Chicago. Cardinal Cupich invited the ecumenical and inter-religious community to join together in calling for peace, addressing the root causes of violence including poverty and racism. The march began at St. Benedict the African Church in the Englewood neighborhood, and participants traced the Stations of the Cross and paused to remember those whose lives have been lost to violence in Chicago this year. Lutherans participated in strong numbers out of our shared concern for the city and our desire for deeper reconciliation as Lutherans and Catholics.
Among the many settings using the Lund liturgy this year was the annual meeting of the U.S. Lutheran-Catholic dialogue, Round XII, which is shaping its report on Faithful Teaching. Bishop Madden and the Rev. Lowell Almen are co-chairs.
Multiple activities respond to the actions of the 2016 Churchwide Assembly concerning the Declaration on the Way:
The co-chairs and members of the Declaration on the Way task force have provided leadership for many synodical events to discover, explore, and deepen understanding about Lutheran-Catholic relations, and to consider the ecumenical dimensions of the 500th anniversary – with focus on the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, From Conflict to Communion, and the Declaration on the Way. We welcome these invitations as opportunities for partnership.
We are grateful to Augsburg Fortress for creating an online study guide for the Declaration on the Way. This is a resource for deepening our reception of the agreements, and strengthening local Lutheran-Catholic relations. It is available for free download from the Augsburg Fortress website &
Finally, Professor Gordon Lathrop has written a theological and practical resource to help expand our understandings of hospitality in Eucharistic worship: “How do we bless Roman Catholic or other ecumenical guests who feel they cannot come to communion?” (in your folders). It is available at
Image may contain: 8 people, people standingLutheran-Orthodox Relations
On November 15, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago ceremoniously returned a rare 9th century Greek manuscript of the complete New Testament to the Greek Orthodox Church. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA), Bishop Demetrios of the Chicago Diocese, and members of the staff of the GOA were also present. Conversations have led to the possibility of renewed dialogue between the ELCA and the GOA, possibly on the topic of care of creation.    
C:\Users\Kathryn_Lohre\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\IMG_3714.jpgOn March 26, a worship service in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Formula of Agreement – the full communion agreement between the ELCA and the PCUSA, the RCA, and the UCC – was held at the Amistad Chapel in the UCC Center in Cleveland. Bishop Eaton preached, lifting up the Formula’s framework of mutual affirmation and admonition as critical for holding our life together as churches in a world that is deeply divided. Local judicatory leaders and others were invited to be present and to participate in various ways. The service was held in conjunction with a meeting of the heads of communion, ecumenical officers, and ministry staff. Revisions will be made to update the Orderly Exchange document, and the next iteration of the coordinating committee will be convened as a theological roundtable tasked with exploring questions of church and Empire, topics which the international world communions, Lutheran & Reformed, have also examined.  
Our other full communion partnerships are tended to in regularly occurring coordinating committee meetings. Please find more information in our staff reports to the LEIRN Board published at  
This year, we hosted two meetings with colleagues visiting from the World Council of Churches. The first was in January to explore preparations for the 14th World Mission Conference to be held in March 2018 in Arusha, Tanzania, prepared by the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism under the theme “Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship.” The second, in April, was a relational visit from Mr. Stan Noffsinger, director of the Office of the General Secretariat, to explore how the WCC might accompany the ELCA in these divisive times in the US. This visit continued concern expressed in the April 2016 “racial justice visit” to the U.S., during which WCC Central Committee moderator Dr. Agnes Abuom declared, “We come with heavy hearts because we have been following developments in this nation. The WCC recognizes the many positive actions of churches here, but they do not seem to be enough.”
In February, the National Council of Churches’ Executive Committee invited Ecumenical Officers to attend its meeting in Hollywood, California, to explore the role of the Ecumenical Officers in light of the NCC’s recent restructure, which focuses on Head of Communion leadership. The 2017 Christian Unity Gathering will be held in November in Baltimore.  
On March 2, Christian Churches Together in the USA hosted a forum in New Jersey on the persecuted church. The forum created space for praying together, raising awareness about anti-Christian persecution, exploring the needs of the churches facing persecution, and developing guidelines for a coordinated ecumenical response of US churches. A statement was released following the Steering Committee meeting in April.
On March 29, the Circle of Protection – a broad ecumenical coalition convened by Bread for the World, the National Council of Churches, Christian Churches Together, and Sojourners – hosted a prayer vigil, press conference, and Congressional visits in opposition to the proposed cuts to the federal budget in human needs, healthcare, and foreign aid programs. This coincided with the ELCA Advocacy convening in Washington DC, allowing for ready participation of ecumenical and advocacy staff.

As you continue to be part of planning for synod events related to inter-religious relations, please remember the resources available to you, including the book of case studies, Engaging Others, Knowing Ourselves: A Lutheran Calling in a Multi-Religious World, now available for Kindle on Amazon. The workshop templates are available at:

  1. LUTHERAN-JEWISH RELATIONS Lutheran-Jewish Relations
We are currently working with the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, and his staff to reconvene our bilateral Jewish-Lutheran dialogue, building on our long-standing partnership in advocacy. We continue to participate in the national Jewish-Christian dialogue table on pastoral issues co-convened by the National Council of Churches and the National Council of Synagogues, with the next meeting taking place in May 2017 in Philadelphia.   
Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing, suit and outdoorImage may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing and suitOur Lutheran-Muslim relations have taken two forms in recent months: rapid response to anti-Muslim bigotry, and continued engagement in long-term relationship-building, education, dialogue, and cooperation for the common good. We are working in partnership with the Islamic Society of North America on church-mosque pilot projects in three synods: Southeastern Pennsylvania (Bishop Burkat), Southwestern Washington (Bishop Jaech), and Southeast Michigan (Bishop Kreiss). This important work, our growing partnership, and Bishop Eaton’s leadership will be highlighted during the July 2017 Islamic Society of North America Convention.
We are also partnering through the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign to respond to increased incidents of anti-Muslim bigotry over the past year, and to concerns about anti-Muslim policies, including the recent Executive Orders. We have participated in statements, press conference, events, and strategic planning sessions. Thanks to Bishop Gafkjen for giving a statement and to Bishop Graham for participating in the November 18 press conference in DC:
Image may contain: 12 people, people standing and indoorChaired by Bishop Patricia Lull, the Inter-Religious Task Force is working to develop an inter-religious policy statement that will complement the 1991 Ecumenism vision statement. The Task Force is on schedule to complete its first draft by the end of this summer, at which time a consultative process for input and feedback will unfold across this church, and with ecumenical and inter-religious partners. The timeline calls for a proposed statement to come through the Church Council to the 2019 CWA.

Historic Black Church Relations  
As we work on racial justice and reconciliation within the ELCA, we are also working in partnership with Historic Black Churches, both in coalitions and bi-laterally.
Image may contain: 6 people, people standingImage may contain: 7 people, people smiling, people standing and indoorFor a second year, the ELCA was a co-sponsor of the cross-racial dialogue convened by the Conference of National Black Churches in Charleston, South Carolina, December 13-15, 2016. The CNBC is the annual conference of the Historic Black Churches in the US. This continues to be an area of growing partnership between Racial Justice Ministries, the African and European Descent Lutheran Associations, and Ecumenical & Inter-Religious Relations.
A significant dimension of the Bishops’ Academy was the presence of Bishop John White, president of the AME Council of Bishops, along with Rev. Darby. We are exploring possibilities for re-engaging our churches’ dialogue, which took place in the 1990s. It will be important to consider fresh models that combine theological dialogue and common action for the sake of the Gospel. Your synod initiatives will continue to be critical for shaping this future together.
Inter-Lutheran Relations
The Lutheran World Federation Assembly will take place in Windhoek, Namibia on May 10-16 under the theme, “Liberated by God’s Grace.” Following Pre-Assemblies for women and youth, delegates from 145 member churches will convene to set the vision and priorities of the communion for the next period, and to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. New leadership will be elected, including a new president. Regional Pre-Assemblies have taken place over the last year, including a joint pre-assembly of the North American and Latin American and Caribbean Regions held in Suriname in September. The ELCA delegation consists of 10 people, including Chris Olkiewicz. There will be approximately 50 ELCA members attending the Assembly in various capacities. Information about the Assembly, including the Pre-Assembly messages, can be found at: and through social media at #LWFAssembly
Together with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the ELCA continues to engage in conversation with the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). Another meeting of heads of churches is being planned for the fall.
Churches Uniting in Christ
On the evening of June 4 in Dallas, heads of communion, local judicatory leaders, ecumenical officers, and local clergy and lay leaders will participate in a national worship service of recognition of ministries amongst the Churches Uniting in Christ. A public forum on race relations will be held on June 3, along with a pulpit exchange between local clergy and national CUIC leadership on the morning of June 4.
Reformation Day Event

Bishop Eaton will co-host a public witness event on Reformation Day, October 31, 2017, with Vice President Horne, Bishop Gafkjen, and Bishop Graham at Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington, DC. Details will be forthcoming.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

LEIRN meeting agenda

Dear Members of LEIRN and Friends,

It is time to register for the National Workshop on Christian Unity and the annual meeting of the Lutheran Ecumenical and Interreligious Representatives Network. Please go to to complete your registration, where you will also find a full Workshop brochure. Our LEIRN meeting agenda is below. ALL LUTHERAN ECUMENISTS ARE WELCOME, not only network members.

In this special year commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, a number of prominent national leaders, including ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, are prepared to engage us in reflection and learning around the theme "Reform, Repent, Reconcile." It is going to be an extraordinary opportunity.

There are a number of possible options to help manage the cost of participation. Small scholarships may be available to help reduce your registration cost. All ELCA seminarians are eligible to receive free registration. If either of those options is of interest to you, contact me at

If you would like to share a room at the Hilton, contact Eileen Heffner at

I look forward to our time together in Minneapolis, May 1-4!

Chris Olkiewicz
LEIRN President

Lutheran Ecumenical and Interreligious Representatives Network
Annual Meeting—Minneapolis, MN
May 1-4, 2017


8:30 a.m. Registration opens

10:00 a.m. Executive Board Meeting

11:30 a.m. LEIRN Newcomers Lunch

If this is your first LEIRN meeting, come to the registration table at 11:30, and the board will take you to lunch.

1:00 - 4:30 LEIRN Session I

ELCA Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations Update

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
Kathryn Lohre, Executive for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations
Kathryn Johnson, Director of Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations

Best Practices

Please be prepared to share a happening from your synod, with a special focus on Reformation commemoration events.

Network Training

Introduction to Executive Board Elections


2:15 - 4:15 LEIRN Session II—Joint Plenary with CADEIO

On October 30, 2016 the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation held an ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation in Lund, Sweden. During the service Pope Francis and LWF President Bishop Munib Younan signed a Joint Statement in which they “call upon Lutheran and Catholic parishes and communities to be bold and creative, joyful and hopeful in their commitment to continue the great journey ahead of us.” How is the Holy Spirit calling us in our local communities to journey together boldly and creatively, with joy and hope? This session will feature personal narratives from the experience in Lund; the reflections of two of our bishops on the implications of the Joint Statement, From Conflict to Communion, and Declaration on the Way for local pastoral practice; an exploration of the canons on reception of communion from Catholic and Lutheran perspectives; and a time for sharing our personal experiences of unity and hopes for a more full communion in the places where we minister.

Presenters: Dr. Rocky Piro, Dr. Kathryn Johnson, Bishop Patricia Lull, Bishop Dennis Madden, Fr. Ron Roberson


10:30 - 11:45 LEIRN Session III

Responding to Anti-Muslim Hatred, Violence, and Bigotry

Catherine Orsborn, Campaign Director, Shoulder to Shoulder: Standing with American Muslims, Upholding American Values

Executive Board Elections (if needed)

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