Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Fruit of Prayer: Spiritual Disciplines for Ecumenism

We are pleased to publish this essay by Sarah Hinlicky Wilson, an ordained pastor in the ELCA, assistant research professor at the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, France, and the editor of Lutheran Forum. Look for more pieces from Dr. Wilson in the future.

The Fruit of Prayer
Spiritual Disciplines for Ecumenism

In some ways ecumenism is a threatening undertaking. Our churches have become comfortable with their separated existences, which sometimes have been established for centuries. Our natural instinct is to protect our own interests, our own family, or our own heritage. It sometimes seems that, if ecumenism’s goal is to say we’re all one, then all the things our ancestors fought for, all the things we love most dearly, are suddenly worthless. On the flip side, we often see things in other churches that disturb us greatly. Sometimes we don’t understand them and so misinterpret them; but sometimes we do understand them and we disagree profoundly. In this light, ecumenism may seem like a big reduction into meaninglessness, claiming that nothing is really right or wrong, good or bad.

Continue reading . . .

Monday, September 22, 2014

September Update

The board did not meet in August. Here's the latest update from our recent meeting with Don and Kathryn and other highlights.

From Kathryn Lohre and Don McCoid

Presiding Bishop’s Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

The Presiding Bishop intended to travel to Israel, Palestine and Jordan in late July/early August with a small delegation to visit the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Due to the war, the trip was postponed, and will likely be rescheduled in early 2015.

Word and Service Entrance Rite Meeting

Kathryn and Don attended this meeting on July 30-31. There is a one roster committee that is developing rationale for the unification of the three lay rosters (AIMs, Diaconal Ministers, and Deaconesses). The Word and Service Entrance Rite task force was established by the Church Council to recommend whether a person entering this one roster would be ordained, consecrated, and/or commissioned.

Don shared the practice of the Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church, and LWF Churches. The distinction between Word and Service and Word and Sacrament ministers continues to be an area that needs further clarification and understanding. Ordination to Word and Service would not give a person who is ordained sacramental privileges (e.g., presiding at Holy Communion).
This is an important time to look at lay ministry in the ELCA. The question of how a person would enter this office has divided opinions.

Conference call with ELCA College/University Presidents

On August 8, Presiding Bishop Eaton convened a conference call of those ELCA college/university presidents who attended the Interfaith Understanding conference held at Augustana, Rock Island in June. This was an opportunity to reflect on the conference, and to consider next steps. It is hoped that the annual meetings of the presidents, as well as the Association of Teaching Theologians, might include interfaith understanding one the agendas for their 2015 meetings. Several colleges will be participating in a Lily grant to the Interfaith Youth Core for deepening and expanding interfaith engagement on Lutheran campuses.

Formula of Agreement Ecumenical Officers’ Conference Call

On August 13, Kathryn participated in a conference call with Robina Winbush (PCUSA), Karen Georgia Thompson (UCC), and Wes Granberg-Michaelson (RCA) regarding next steps for FOA reception. Three major tasks emerged: bringing together staff colleagues who work on candidacy/ordained ministry placement and call; bringing together heads of communion to assess where we move forward together – in light of significant ecclesial and ecumenical changes, as well as the breadth of full communion relationships each church now has; and connecting staff colleagues who are working on the 500th observance of the Reformation, noting the intersections with the Reformed-Catholic Dialogue. It is hoped that meetings of staff colleagues and heads of communion will take place in 2015.

Note: We received a request from the PCUSA for an appointee to serve a term on their General Assembly Committee for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations. Chris Olkiewicz has confirmed his willingness, and been affirmed by his bishop, the presiding bishop and his beloved family, to serve in this capacity. Thanks, Chris!

NCC Executive Committee Meeting

The NCC Executive Committee met at the Coptic Village Retreat Center in Big Bear Lake, California, at the gracious invitation of Bishop Serapion. For the first time in over a decade, the NCC has a considerable budget surplus. This will allow for critical staff positions, including communications and development, to be built back into the structure, along with Ann Tiemeyer’s successor as Associate General Secretary for Action and Advocacy. These jobs have been posted at – please spread the word.

The Committee spent the majority of its time considering faithful responses to Ferguson, Syria, Israel/Palestine, and the unaccompanied minors crisis at the border. Chairman Roy Medley and Jim Winkler took part in an ABCUSA sponsored prayer vigil at the border later that same week.

Planning for the 2015 Christian Unity Gathering was also part of the Committee’s work. Evaluations for the first CUG were very positive. One significant concern was the need for additional working time for the Convening Tables. The format for the 2015 CUG will seek to address this by providing significant time in groups and minimal time in plenary. There will be major public events related to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide at the National Cathedral.
The Coptic Church provided remarkable hospitality for the Executive Committee, with lay leaders from the greater Los Angeles areas volunteering to provide rides and cook meals (including traditional Egyptian fare.) Please consider Coptic Village for your next retreat (aka Majestic Moose Lodge).

Declaration on the Way (to Unity)

This special task force of ELCA and Catholic scholars met in Chicago on August 26-28th. The goal of our work is juridical reception of the convergences/differentiated consensus by both the LWF and the Vatican.

Unresolved differences will be separated from the juridical reception proposal, as well as pastoral implications of the extensive agreements. An example of the pastoral implications would be the sharing of the Eucharist. While there will be theological agreements in the juridical reception of the agreements, the Eucharistic sharing will be presented separately.
The next meeting will be a conference call on December 1 to receive updates from each of the three working groups (Eucharist, Ecclesiology, and Ministry). The meeting in Washington on January 28-31 will be a significant one in order to develop a final draft that could be shared with the LWF and Vatican.

Interfaith Youth Core

On August 27 Kathryn went downtown Chicago for a meeting with Eboo Patel at the offices of the Interfaith Youth Core. The purpose of the meeting was to deepen relationships, discuss the details of the Lily grant referenced above, and to identify possible areas of partnership, including the Interactive Learning center at the 2015 Youth Gathering. A joint working group made up of members from the Lutheran-Jewish and Lutheran-Muslim Consultative Panels had earlier submitted its proposal for inter-religious engagement, which were accepted by Youth Gathering leadership. Ideas include: “speed faithing,” art installations, living room discussion space, etc. IFYC may partner with our office in order to bring in college-age leaders from ELCA colleges to serve as hosts and guides for this interactive learning.

Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Convention

On August 29, Kathryn accompanied Bishop Eaton to Detroit for the 51st annual ISNA Convention. This event is primarily a gathering that inspired and unites Sunni and Shiite Muslims in the US. The theme this year was, “Generations Rise: Elevating Muslim American Culture.” Bishop Don Kreiss of the Southeast Michigan Synod joined us there for the afternoon. We enjoyed time meeting the participants of the first-ever Interfaith Seminarian Seminar, an educational program for Jewish, Christian, and Muslim seminarians sponsored by the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign. The ELCA was pleased to have Kristen Klade, a seminarian at LSTC, participate in the program. We shared the Christian-Muslim Talking Points resource.

We observed the Friday Jummah prayers in a large hall as guests. Long rolls of corrugated cardboard had been rolled out to be used as prayer rugs. A large inflatable minaret belonging to the Muslim Boy Scouts of America stood near the stage where the outgoing ISNA president, Imam Magid, offered the sermon.

Afterward, during the opening plenary Bishop Eaton offered greetings to the Convention. She lifted up our longstanding partnership, and the need to stand together against extremism of all kinds. She shared Luther’s explanation of the 8th commandment, and our responsibility to defend the neighbor.

Before the event began, our offices began to receive some contacts from concerned individuals who had learned that she would be addressing the Convention. We were able to share an audio recording (attached to this report) of Bishop Eaton’s address, along with an explanation of our partnership, that seemed to address the concerns being raised.

Simone Sinn, Lutheran World Federation

On September 3, Kathryn hosted her counterpart from the LWF, Simone Sinn, who was in town for the hermeneutics conference being hosted at LSTC. Simone is the LWF Study Secretary for Public Theology and Interreligious Relations, with particular expertise in Christian-Muslim relations in Asia. We were able to share some of the issues and hopes we are facing, and it was a very good opportunity for relationship building.

National Workshop on Christian Unity

Rocky Piro and Kathryn attended the NWCU National Planning Committee meeting in Charlotte, September 8-10.

Reminders & Resources

LWF interfaith panel – to be streamed on September 18. On July 15, Kathryn participated in an online recording session for an international panel discussion on inter-religious relations as part of an LWF virtual conference on transformative diakonia, “Called to Be Transformed and Transforming.” The other participants were Ms. Helen Haggai, TEKAN Peace Desk in Jos, Nigeria , and Mr. Lusungu Mbilinyi, Zanzibar Interfaith Center, Tanzania. The session was moderated by the Rev. Dr. Simone Sinn, LWF Study Secretary for Public Theology and Interreligious Relations. The virtual conference will take place on September 18. For more information and to register see:

The ELCA-UMC one day formation template has been professionally designed and formatted, just in time for the 5th anniversary of the full communion agreement this year. The PDF is on the ELCA website or simply click the link at the top of this page.

“Why Follow Luther Past 2017? A Contemporary Lutheran Approach to Inter-Religious Relations” was prepared by the ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations as a contribution toward the 500th observance of the Reformation. Please continue to lift this up through your work. It is available for download at and we also have a limited number of copies that we could share with you, upon request.

Board highlights

National Workshop News

The 2014 Workshop ended with a financial deficit, due mainly to hotel expenses regarding media usage.

There is a new Webmaster (Rick Caporelli) for the Workshop. Network registrations will be fully integrated into the NWCU website. He is also creating a database of past workshop participants. This will help with communication, PR, etc.

Charlotte 2015

Funding resources were discussed. Could Thrivent sponsor a breakfast (such as Graymoor)? Rocky will explore this with some of our local LEIRN members. Are there individuals or groups within the ELCA who might have resources to support the Workshop? We will include this topic in future LEIRN conversations. The NPC will also be looking at other sources, such as Lilly.

A fifth network, “Evangelicals,” is forming for this year's Workshop. There will be six seminars instead of nine. Amy-Jill Levine will be one of the keynote speakers.

There will be two combined Network Plenaries – EDEIO (Episcopalian) & UMEIT (United Methodist) will join, having Tex Sample as a resource; LEIRN (Lutherans) & CADEIO (Roman Catholics) will join around the topic of “Reforms and Reformation.” Mary Finklea & Tim Philabaum have agreed to join the Roman Catholic cohorts to work on this plenary. One of our LEIRN plenaries will be devoted to the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign.

An evening event (Wednesday) is being planned to explore how Christians from different Christian traditions work together on the inter-religious front.

Jim Langley and Pierson Shaw are serving as local ELCA people for this Charlotte Workshop.

Registration is set to increase by $25.

Thanks to Tim Philabaum for submitting the minutes. Next meeting: October 24, 2014.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Shoulder to Shoulder Webinar


Join us for an interactive webinar, put on collaboratively by Muslim Advocates and the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, to learn tools, resources and strategies to push back against hate in our communities and online.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
9:00 am PT / 12:00 pm ET

There's still room!  
Click here to RSVP by Sunday, September 21.
If you haven't heard about the Greater Washington Immigration Film Festival, you'll want to know what's happening so you can carve out some time in late October!

The film festival aims to put a face on immigration and to motivate viewers to call for changes in immigration reform.  Click here for more information and to purchase tickets


Shoulder to Shoulder will be participating in 9/11 Unity walk on September 21!  9/11 Unity Walk brings together people of all ages, backgrounds and faiths to learn to respect each other through a framework of experiential education, compassionate leadership and intentional service.

Unity Walk seeks to create a world where we are united, rather than divided, by our many faiths.
Join us as we come together in ‘Service for Peace’ at the 9th Annual 9/11 Unity Walk on Sunday, September 21, 2014.  Click here to learn more.

Our first Seminarian Interfaith Seminar was a success!  Check out some of the reflections from the seminarians who participated this program at the ISNA convention last month:

Click here for Jonathan Owens' opinion piece in the Detroit Free Press on September 11, and click here for Kathryn Ray's reflection on State of Formation.  

Copyright © 2014 Shoulder-to-Shoulder Campaign, All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Glocal" gathering with interfaith focus

ELCA Glocal Interfatih Innovations
Excelsior, Minnesota
Gather a Team

The Excelsior ELCA Glocal Interfaith Innovations will gather community leaders for two days of learning, networking and capacity building towards interfaith dialogue.

As you gather your team, remember that this event is for everyone interested in engaging their neighbors of different faith backgrounds, including youth ages 16 and up. Consider inviting your pastors, church council, Sunday school teachers, worship, outreach, stewardship, hunger, global mission, youth and family ministry teams.

Invite members of your congregation, a group from your ministry organization, friends from your Bible study, your campus ministry group or neighbors in your community. This is a great opportunity to reach out and get to know your brothers and sisters of different faiths and religions!

Friday, November 14, 2014, 8:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Saturday, November 15, 2014, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Central Time

Mount Calvary Lutheran Church 
301 County Road 19
Excelsior Minnesota, 55332

Just $35 per person

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reflections on the National Workshop on Christian Unity

Ecumenists from many traditions gathered in Albuquerque, NM from April 28 - May 1 for the National Workshop on Christian Unity, during which the annual meeting of our network was also held. Two participants kindly offered reflections on our time together.

John Huber, a long-time participant in these gatherings as a member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, offered the following highlights at a meeting of the Southern California Ecumenical Council . . .

Kenny Bowen , LEIRN board member from Region 2, provided this report to the bishops of his region . . .

To complement John and Kenny's insights, there are now many photos of the Workshop posted on the NWCU website . . .

Enjoy reading about the Albuquerque experience, and mark your calendar for the 2015 NWCU in Charlotte, NC -- April 20 - 23!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

July 2014 Update

From Kathryn Lohre and Don McCoid

Ecumenical Officers’ Retreat – Bergamo Center, Ohio, June 25-27

Kathryn Lohre attended the annual ecumenical officers’ retreat at a Catholic retreat center in Ohio. Participants shared in prayer and worship, offered updates from the churches, and discussed strengthening ecumenical witness in the US in a time of rapid change. The most valuable aspect of the retreat is relationship building with colleagues, support, and sharing of common concerns and joys.

LWF Global Young Reformers Network Nominations

Bishop Eaton recently made two nominations to serve as part of the LWF Global Young Reformers Network, a program to connect, train, and empower young leaders from the LWF member churches through virtual meetings, networking and a meeting in Wittenberg in 2015. The primary delegate is Nicole Newman, a member of Luther Place in DC, and co-chair of MYLE 2015. The secondary delegate, who will be the alternate for the Wittenberg meeting, is Kyle Thorson, an active leader in the UND Grand Forks campus ministry and former Young Adult in Global Mission (YAGM). 

Follow-up with College Presidents Following June 2014 Conference on Interfaith Understanding

Bishop Eaton will convene a phone conversation with the college presidents who participated in the Augustana College conference to discuss next steps for interfaith understanding on ELCA college campuses. She has also written a brief article that will be published in the next edition of Intersections, along with a longer article Kathryn will write about ELCA inter-religious relations. IFYC will host a conference, along with the President’s Advisory Council, at Georgetown in the fall. This will be attended by several ELCA college presidents and their delegations. Kathryn and Mark Wilhelm will also attend.

North American Heads of Churches Meeting, Toronto, July 1-3

The four churches’ (Anglican Church in Canada, the ELCIC, TEC, and the ELCA) presiding bishops met for the fifth time. Bishop Eaton and Don McCoid were present. Kathryn Lohre joined the meeting by Skype. Some of the highlights included:

The churches reported a better spirit after the “sex wars.” There is more focus on issues and ministry.

The Anglican Communion is living together with differences … and there is less anxiety.

Th Episcopal Church is working on relationships with the PCUSA and the UMC. A study commission is looking at the number of dioceses and a position on “Marriage.”

The ELCIC and the ACC had a joint Assembly in 2013. It was well received … and exceeded expectations.

Appreciation was expressed for the LECC document that responded to TEC Convention that asked that lay presidency and deacons be addressed.

The ACC asked for consideration of a statement on Uganda’s anti-gay legislation. In discussion, some points were made: 1. Quiet diplomacy is the best approach at this time; 2. Working within governments is essential in order to do advocacy; 3. There are unilateral consequences if public statements are made that will actually hurt people on the ground.

Joint statements from the four churches will be done to address timely issues. In addition, each year, there will be strategic statements made. In 2014, the concern over global climate issues will be addressed. The ELCA will take the initiative on this issue.

Middle East concern – each church will be making a trip to the Middle East.

Doctrine of Discovery (First Nation Concern) will continue to develop common understanding and advocacy.

LWF Interfaith Panel Recording to be Streamed on September 18

Kathryn participated in an online recording session for an international panel discussion on inter-religious relations as part of an LWF virtual conference on transformative diakonia, “Called to Be Transformed and Transforming.” The other participants were Ms. Helen Haggai, TEKAN Peace Desk in Jos, Nigeria , and Mr. Lusungu Mbilinyi, Zanzibar Interfaith Center, Tanzania. The session was moderated by the Rev. Dr. Simone Sinn, LWF Study Secretary for Public Theology and Interreligious Relations. The virtual conference will take place on September 18. For more information and to register see: 

Interfaith “Interactive Learning” at 2015 Youth Gathering

A small working group composed of members of the ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish and Lutheran-Muslim Panels met in mid-July to brainstorm ideas for interactive learning at the ELCA Youth Gathering in 2015. The ideas have been shared with the Youth Gathering Team Leader, and will be refined in consultation. We are awaiting next steps. If you have ideas to share, please send them to


The ELCA-UMC one day formation template has been professionally designed and formatted, just in time for the 5th anniversary of the full communion agreement this year. Click the link at the top of this page to access it. You will also find there a newly issued letter from Bishop Jessica Crist of the Montana Synod lifting up the significance of this anniversary.

“Why Follow Luther Past 2017? A Contemporary Lutheran Approach to Inter-Religious Relations” was prepared by the ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations as a contribution toward the 500th observance of the Reformation. Please continue to lift this up through your work. It is available under the "Other resources" tab above. We also have a limited number of copies that we could share with you upon request.

Also check out the ever-growing list of resources under the "Other resources" tab above and remember to visit for a wide variety of useful ecumenical and inter-religious materials.

Board Meeting Highlights

We regret that Judi Longdin of the Archdiocese of Chicago will no longer be serving as liaison to our network from CADEIO because of a change in her job responsibilities. We will miss Judi and are grateful for her years of dedicated work in facilitating the relationship between our two networks. We hope to still see her at the NWCU!

Some members of the NWCU National Planning Committee hosted a working luncheon for local ecumenists in Charlotte, site of the 2015 Workshop. Two ELCA members participated, representing Bishop Bolick. Exciting plans are emerging from this group on how to involve local ecumenists in the Workshop. 

The full National Planning Committee meets in Charlotte in September. Kathryn Lohre and Rocky Piro will participate. Keynoters and seminar presenters are being identified, and Shoulder-to-Shoulder has been invited to do one of the seminars. We hope also to involve Shoulder-to-Shoulder in a LEIRN plenary. Check out Shoulder-to-Shoulder's website and Facebook page, and find other good resources on Muslim relations on the ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations webpage.

LEIRN members are asked to begin broadcasting the dates and location of the 2015 National Workshop on Christian Unity -- April 20-23, 2015 - Charlotte, NC.

Next meeting –  September 11, 10:30 EDT/9:30 CDT/8:30 MDT/7:30 PDT

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Preparing for 2017?

If you are involved in planning for local observances of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, the ELCA planning committee would love to hear from you. Please take a moment to share the work you are doing with Don McCoid ( or Kathryn Lohre ( Thanks!

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