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!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June 2014 Update

Welcome back to the LEIRN blog! We have not had any updates since before the LEIRN annual meeting in Albuquerque at the National Workshop on Christian Unity, and the board did not meet in May. We needed a break after all the time we spent together in Albuquerque!

Look for minutes from our June meeting to be posted here soon, along with a few reflections on our time at the NWCU. If you were there and have some thoughts about the whole experience or a particular seminar that you attended, please email them to me for posting ( We would love to share your thoughts with the network. In the meantime, here is a summary of what Kathryn and Don have been up to in recent weeks. As you can see, they have been very busy!

Chris Olkiewicz
LEIRN President

From Kathryn Lohre and Don McCoid

NCC Christian Unity Gathering – May 18-20

After an 18 month transition period, the National Council of Churches USA held its first major gathering, launching the new structure. The “Christian Unity Gathering” was held in Washington DC, May 18-20, focusing on the Council’s priority of “mass incarceration.” There was a public plenary featuring Marian Wright Edelman, Jim Wallis, Ida Carruthers, and Harold Dean Trulear, who offered remarks and engaged in discussion with participants on the role of the churches in tackling mass incarceration from several angles, including education and other opportunities for children, prison ministry, re-entry, and policy reform. In addition to the plenary sessions, meetings of the Governing Board, Committees, and Convening Tables (Faith & Order, Inter-Religious, Education & Formation, and Justice & Advocacy) were held concurrently. A celebratory worship service included a procession of ecumenical and inter-religious guests; Jim Winkler gave his inaugural address as General Secretary/President.

We had excellent participation as an ELCA delegation, including by Presiding Bishop Eaton. The event was a strong start to the re-envisioned and restructured Council. The Board received the encouraging news that after years of deficits, there will be a budget surplus this year! Thanks be to God!

Meetings with Jewish Partners – May 21-22

On May 21, Bishop Eaton had a relationship building meeting with Rabbi Steve Gutow, head of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. On May 22, we received colleagues from the American Jewish Committee, including Noam Marans (Director, Interreligious and Intergroup Relations), Emily Soloff (Chicago-based regional staff), and David Inlander (chair, Inter-religious Committee). In addition to relationship building, the conversation with our AJC partners focused on possible areas of collaboration for the future.

Conference on Interfaith Understanding, Augustana, Rock Island, June 1-3

Augustana College, Rock Island hosted a conference for ELCA Colleges on the topic of interfaith understanding. Sixteen of the 27 colleges were present through delegations. Eight college presidents also participated, along with Bishop Eaton, Mark Wilhelm (ELCA Director, Schools) and Kathryn. Eboo Patel, founder and president of the Interfaith Youth Core gave the keynote address, lifting up several ELCA Colleges and Universities that are already deeply engaging interfaith understanding through student initiatives, policies, and partnerships.

Bishop Eaton encouraged ELCA College/University presidents to see this area of critical work as an opportunity for deepening partnership between the church and the schools, and for making a contribution on the 500th observance of the Reformation that would honor the schools’ Lutheran heritage, and prepare students for vocational life in a multi-religious world. She offered two concrete ideas for their consideration: the formation of a center for Lutheran vocation in a multi-religious world, and a liberal arts curriculum that would seek to educate students about the Lutheran tradition, and provide religious literacy as a skill set for vocational life in today’s context.

Lutheran World Federation Council

The LWF Council met in Medan, Indonesia from June 10-17. Some of the highlights include:

  • The LWF is holding together. There was a marked sense of peace among members and a focus on ministry
  • It was important to be Indonesia. It is among the largest churches in the LWF (5.8 million), but is in a predominately in a Muslim country.
  • The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation will have a dedicated website in 2015. The liturgy will be completed and posted
  • The theme of the next LWF Assembly will be “Liberated by God’s Grace."

Statement on Indonesia Meeting

The Council was exposed to the situation of the Lutheran minority churches in a largely Muslim country. The Council statement on Indonesia gives thanks for the vibrant and faithful witness of sisters and brothers in Indonesia. It states that “the LWF Council joins and supports the Indonesian churches in their efforts to uphold freedom of religion, their interreligious solidarity in working against injustice and in responding to human need, and in their continuing engagement in dialogue with different religious groups to promote understanding and just and peaceful communities.”

Statement on Indonesia Statement on Climate Justice

During the Council meeting participants took part in a “fast for the climate action” to support the global interfaith campaign #fastfortheclimate.  The statement on climate justice reiterates LWF’s commitment to climate justice as evidenced by previous Assembly and Council statements; and it calls on member churches to take action on organizational, congregational and personal level to become more eco-friendly. The statement also calls LWF member churches to engage in the #fastfortheclimate campaign.

Climate Statement on Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa

LWF member churches in sub-Saharan Africa have, in the past months, offered more statements in which they have spoken out against the recent violence in some countries in the region, including the abduction of school girls and women in Nigeria. Council members at the 2014 meeting expressed their shared pain with the LWF member churches in the region. In a statement on violence in sub-Saharan Africa, the Council strongly condemned all violence and called upon all parties and the international community to take immediate action to release those held captive; to desist from using violence and to prevent barbaric actions such as abduction from taking place in the future.

Statement on Ukraine

The LWF has a member church in Ukraine, which also has congregations on the Crimean peninsula that is affected by the recent instability in the region. The statement on the Ukraine called for prayers for the people in the Ukraine and in particular for the LWF member church in its ongoing witness and service.

Statement on the Universal Code of Conduct on Holy Sites

The LWF Council 2014 endorsed the Universal Code of Conduct on Holy Sites, which is a document developed in consultation with religious leaders and experts from many of the world’s major faiths. The Council also encouraged member churches to support initiatives in their context and called upon the United Nations to adopt a UN resolution in the spirit of the Code.

Statement on Welcoming the Stranger

Following the Council adoption of the “Welcoming the Stranger,” code of conduct for faith leaders in 2013, the document has been widely distributed globally and regionally. The statement on welcoming the stranger encourages “our congregations and all people of faith to build their relationships with the “strangers” among them, and to be more open, to have more faith, and to trust God´s own support.

Synod Assemblies

Don was the ELCA representative to the Northwest Ohio Synod Assembly, the Southern Ohio Assembly, and the Sierra Pacific Assembly. While each were unique, he says that he was impressed by the health and ministry that unfolds in each place. The local and synodical ministries are evidence of the mission life that are shared in each region.

PCUSA General Assembly, June 17-19

Kathryn attended the PCUSA’s 221st General Assembly in Detroit, Michigan, as an ecumenical guest. She joined other ecumenical and inter-religious partners in a dinner hosted by Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons, and a breakfast the following morning that had a program on the topic of “violence against women.” Panelists included two women: one from the Sikh Coalition, and another from the WD Mohammed movement.

An ecumenical worship service for the whole assembly followed the breakfast. The preacher was the Rev. Mark McDonald, WCC North American President, and Indigenous Bishop of the Anglican Church in Canada.

The two most controversial issues facing the GA were civil marriage, and divestment from Israel. The plenary on Thursday morning provided an opportunity for commissioners to engage in small group discussion and discernment on these two issues. The votes on the Committee’s recommendations (to allow clergy to perform same sex marriages where they are legal, and to define marriage as between two people, and to divest from Motorola, Caterpillar, and HP respectively) will occur on Friday. Importantly, the Belhar Confession, which has its roots in the struggle against apartheid, was approved for inclusion in the Book of Confessions. In order for this to be fully enacted, 2/3 of the presbyteries will need to approve this over the next year, and then the next GA will have to approve this, as well.

Further information can be found at

Interfaith Opportunities at 2015 Youth Gathering

In 2012 the ELCA Consultative Panels for Lutheran-Jewish and Lutheran-Muslim Relations met jointly. During that meeting, they requested an opportunity to speak with Heidi Hagstrom, director of the ELCA Youth Gathering about opportunities for inter-religious engagement in 2015 given the context of Detroit. In recent months we have been part of conversations about the possibility of a small pilot program for youth gathering participants to engage in an exchange with youth of other religious traditions in Detroit. The consultative panels have also been encouraged to participate in some way in providing an opportunity for engagement for all youth gathering participants through the Interactive Learning Center. A small joint working group of panelists is being formed in order to brainstorm ideas that will be refined in consultation with Youth Gathering staff by the end of summer. If any of you have ideas you would like to share, please let Kathryn know.


We have made significant changes to our ELCA website so that resources are easier to access via live links in the text. We hope that this is an improvement for your work. We will be working later this year to revise the way our downloadable resources are organized, so that it is more user-friendly for those who are not familiar with our resources. A link to our pages has been added to the footer of our homepage.

We are in the process of professionally designing and formatting the ELCA-UMC one day formation template, for the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the full communion agreement this year. We will send you the PDF as soon as it is available, and post it to our website.

“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.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

March 2014 Update

From Kathryn Lohre and Don McCoid

Catholic Dialogue

The dialogue met at the end of February. The scholars are blending some important insights in looking at Sources of Authority. We should be able to have substantive insights to share when the round is complete. In addition the 50th Anniversary of the Dialogue will be celebrated next May (2015) in Washington, during the dialogue meeting.

Conference of Bishops

The meeting was held in early March. We met with the liaison committee of the COB. Of interest was some of the sharing that was done by the liaison bishops. There seems to be a decline throughout the U.S. of state councils of churches and regional ecumenical councils. Those who include inter-religious relations are doing better. An update from the Global Ecclesiology Task Force was given. Bishop Eaton was supportive of ecumenical ministry in her report.

Lutheran World Federation

Guests from the LWF staff from Geneva visited our offices on March 11-12. The executives from Ecumenical and Theological ministry and DMD – Department of Mission Development had visited the NALC (no report was shared) prior to meeting with us. They were supportive of the ELCA and the exchange is a good example of our ministry within our Communion of Churches.

United Methodist-ELCA Coordinating Committee

A meeting was held on March 17-18 at our offices. We continued the important sharing on revitalizing congregations. Staff from both churches presented updates. This will be continued in our next meeting later this year. In addition, we will look at advocacy meeting in our churches and will have staff present. A major emphasis will be the 5th Anniversary of the UMC-ELCA full communion agreement. A letter will be shared by the co-chairs of the Coordinating Committee with bishops, including our LEIRN network. There will be encouragement for local observances of the anniversary on the synodical/conference level. Find resources here . . .

U.S. Christian-Jewish Dialogue

The “Summit” of Jewish and Christian leaders was held March 27 at the JCPA in New York City. The focus of the meeting is on tending to relationships, particularly when significant disagreements are held. The meeting is being co-convened by the Rev. Mark Hanson and Rabbi Steve Gutow (JCPA), and co-facilitated by the Rev. Tom Duke (who is ELCA) and Rabbi Melissa Weintraub. Bishop Eaton represented the ELCA. The meeting is not public.

New Resource

“Why Follow Luther Past 2017? A Contemporary Lutheran Approach to Inter-Religious Relations” is underway. This resource was prepared by the ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations as a contribution toward the 500th observance of the Reformation. Please share this widely and encourage folks in your synod to use it for individual and group study. It is available for download under the “Inter-Religious” tab on our resources page . . .

EIR Staff Changes

We have recently undergone a change in roles in our Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations team, with Kathryn being named the new Executive for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations and Don now serving as director. The complementarity of our roles has been maintained, with Don having primary responsibility for our full communion coordinating committees, bi-lateral dialogues and discourses, and with Kathryn having primary responsibility for conciliar life and inter-religious relations, though we both share responsibilities, including support of LEIRN. In Chicago, Kathryn is situated to pick up the responsibilities as Assistant to the Presiding Bishop. Eileen is continuing in her role as Administrative Services Coordinator. It is good to be continuing our work together!

From the Board

We look forward to seeing you at the National Workshop on Christian Unity in Albuquerque. For those not able to attend, look for live updates in the LERN Facebook Group from April 28 - May 1 and a complete recap here in coming weeks.

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