Friday, November 14, 2014

Fifty Years of Dialogue, as Told by a Lutheran

By Rev. Donald J. McCoid

When I entered seminary in 1965, it became very evident that the Second Vatican Council was influencing theology, liturgy, and ecumenism for Catholics and for other Christians . . . 
Read more . . .

Saturday, November 8, 2014

October Update

It's barely November, so that must mean that it's time for the October update. Please remember to subscribe to the blog via email, so that you are notified when the monthly (and other) updates are posted, and let others know about us.

From Kathryn Lohre and Don McCoid

Full Communion Partners

The coordinating committee will meet November 13-14. The work will be focused on revitalizing congregations and we will also begin to look at advocacy. A joint worship service will be held to celebrate the 5th anniversary. Bishop Miller will preach and Bishop Dyck (UMC Northern Illinois Conference) will preside. Bishop Lull will replace Bishop Pile on the Committee. Please continue to lift up the 5th anniversary of this full communion agreement, and share the formation template located under the tab above.

The Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee (LECC) will be meeting in Detroit in November. Bishop Kreiss has agreed to serve as co-chair, succeeding Mitzi Budde, who will continue as a member of the committee. LECC has produced an important reply to TEC’s Convention request about diaconal ministry and lay presidency at the Eucharist.

Church Partnerships

North American Heads of Churches 
The presiding bishops of four North American (Anglican Church in Canada, the ELCIC, TEC, and the ELCA) met for fifth time in July.  Joint statements from the churches will address timely issues. In addition, there will be one strategic statement made annually. For 2014, ELCA took the lead in drafting “A Pastoral Message on Climate Change,” published on September 19.  The 2014 Advent devotions, prepared by Bishop Eaton, Bishop Susan Johnson, Bishop Jefferts-Schori, and Archbishop Fred Hiltz, are available under "Other resources" above. They will soon be on the ELCA website as well. Please use them and pass them along to others. 

The Presiding Bishop will travel to Israel, Palestine, and Jordan in mid-January to visit Bishop Younan and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Kathryn will be part of the delegation.  

Bi-Lateral Conversations

African Methodist Episcopal Zion
Bishop Eaton, Bishop Bolick, and EIR staff met to discuss possible next steps for engagement with AMEZ. Bishop Bolick invited AMEZ Senior Bishop Battle to be the opening preacher at the 2015 National Workshop on Christian Unity in Charlotte, and he accepted. Bishop Bolick will meet with Bishop Battle to begin to explore possible next steps together. It is hoped that a meeting between Bishop Eaton, Bishop Bolick, Bishop Battle, and staff might take place on Monday, April 20 in Charlotte. 

Declaration on the Way (to Unity)
The task force met in August and decided that unresolved differences will be separated from the juridical reception proposal in the text, 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. In early December, updates will be received by conference call from each of the three working groups (Eucharist, Ecclesiology, and Ministry). In late January 2015 the task force will meet in Washington to develop the final draft to be shared with the LWF and Vatican.  

Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue
The dialogue met in Chicago, October 9-12.  Some important reflections include how well the dialogue members are working together and addressing the important subject of teaching authority.  There was also the acknowledgement that things have changed since we began looking at this subject for the round, namely Pope Francis.  

Meeting of the USCCB Committee and with Bishop Farrell 
Kathryn and Don were invited to meet with Bishop Farrell (Vatican), Bishop Madden, and Father John Crossin for lunch on October 15.  It was a helpful opportunity to discuss the Declaration on the Way and deepen our relationship with the Vatican. At the meeting of the USCCB ecumenical and interreligious committee, our dialogue was highlighted with positive remarks.  Lowell Almen, co-chair of the dialogue, was also present for this meeting.  


Christian Churches Together
The Steering Committee of Christian Churches Together met in late September at The Lutheran Center. Bishop Dillahunt attended her first meeting. Bishop Michael Rinehart will attend the annual Convocation in February in Houston on the topic of immigration reform.   

On September 18, the LWF held its second annual virtual diakonia conference, “Called to be Transformed and Transforming.” Kathryn was one of the presenters for the session on inter-religious relations, along with Ms. Helen Haggai, TEKAN Peace Desk in Jos, Nigeria, and Mr. Lusungu Mbilinyi, Zanzibar Interfaith Center, Tanzania. Kathryn has recently been nominated and endorsed to participate in a small consultation on “Strengthening Participation and Dialogue: Lutheran Engagement in the Public Square.” This group, chaired by Archbishop Jackelen of Sweden, will “develop a statement that gives strong theological rationale for Lutheran engagement in plural societies and provides guiding principles for such engagement locally and globally.” It will meet for the first time in late January 2015. 

500th Observance

The LWF will be publishing a website of resources in early 2015, which will include a liturgy for 2017. Some resources are already available, including the 2014 worship service on the theme, “Salvation – Not for Sale,”  a flyer, logos, and general information.

Inter-Religious Relations

Jewish-Christian Dialogue
After the PCUSA action on divestment, the Jewish partners communicated that they would not participate in the national Middle East Issues Roundtable. The pastoral issues Roundtable is still scheduled for November 12-13. Kathryn and Darrell Jodock will participate. 

The Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations met in September, and the Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Muslim Relations met in October. A primary focus was work on a joint project to develop an inter-religious case studies book for ELCA congregational study and engagement, with the hopes that this might be a contribution to the 500th observance, and commended to congregations and campus ministries for study and reflection in 2016 as part of the CWA/”Grace Gathering.” 

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Declaration to the Jewish Community adopted by the ELCA Church Council. The Declaration is spotlighted on

Through the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, we have been able to respond in new ways to local instances of Islamophobia through the leadership of the bishops. Bishop Gonia recently wrote an op-ed that was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette in response to a recent anti-Muslim event held in Lakewood, Colorado, and Bishop Girlinghouse wrote an op-ed that was published in The Oklahoman in response to the beheading tragedy in Oklahoma, and the condemnation of Islam by a state representative. Thanks, Nathan, for continuing the conversation about a possible event with S2S.

ELCA Colleges/Universities
In late September, Kathryn joined Mark Wilhelm for a series of conferences and events on interfaith engagement on campuses held at Georgetown, George Washington University, and the White House. These were jointly sponsored by the Interfaith Youth Core and the President’s Council of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. ELCA Colleges and Universities were strongly represented and made significant contributions. We continue to consider opportunities to partner with ELCA Colleges/Universities on interfaith understanding, engagement, and religious literacy. 

Youth Gathering 
EIR will be part of Interactive Learning at the 2015 Youth Gathering, focusing on interfaith understanding, engagement, and religious literacy. A small working group composed of members of both consultative panels developed the initial ideas that will be refined in the coming months by a small leadership team that Kathryn will create composed of leaders of ELCA college initiatives.

Parliament of the World’s Religions
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions will be meeting in the US for the first time in over two decades next year, October 15-19 in Salt Lake City. It would be good to connect Lutheran participants. If you or anyone in your networks attends, please let us know. Also, they are currently in a search process.

ELCA Churchwide Engagement Strategy on Israel/Palestine
Staff colleagues in the Churchwide organization met with Bishop Eaton in late September to explore ways in which we might give stronger collective witness to our partners, and provide greater coordination and support through the ELCA engagement strategy on Israel/Palestine.

Board highlights

  • Discussed upcoming ELCA decisions regarding the move from three lay rosters (Associates in Ministry, Deaconesses, and Diaconal Ministers) to one roster. Should the people in this combined roster be (continued to be) commissioned or consecrated, or should they be ordained?
  • 500th Observance
    • From Conflict to Communion is being used in several places as a way for  planning committees to begin conversation.
    • Shall we have a plenary in Charlotte for LEIRN members to have a handle on such resources?
    • Discussed how life in local parishes does not always reflect the accomplishments of ecumenical dialogs and agreements. LEIRN members could serve the role of ambassadors of the larger ecumenical scene in the local setting.
    • Noted that there will be a joint LEIRN/CADEO plenary in Charlotte, “Reforms, Reformers, and Reformations." Should we invite other networks to join us?
    • We may want to consider using our three plenary sessions thus: 1) EIR update and dialogue, 2) Shoulder to Shoulder and inter-religious work, 3) 500th Observation.
    • We will have further conversation about how ELCA planning links up with the LWF planning, and how we might engage LEIRN in this critical work. Marcus Kunz will join us on the next call.
    • Noted that a media kit could be a valuable resource to have in the hands of LEIRN members prior to the 500th Observation in 2017.

Next meeting: December 5, 2014 -- 9:30 a.m. Central

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!

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