Saturday, December 28, 2013

Call for Nominations

LERN Ecumenist Award

Members of LERN are invited to submit nominations for this year's LERN Ecumenist Award. The award is given to someone who has made significant contributions toward advancing the ecumenical vision of the ELCA (which may be found here . . .). Written nominations describing the person's qualifications should be submitted to LERN President Chris Olkiewicz ( by February 1, 2014. The award will be presented at the National Workshop on Christian Unity in Albuquerque in April 2014.

Update -- December 2013

From Don McCoid and Kathryn Lohre

NCCC Presidency

Kathryn completed her term as President of the NCCC. At the meeting in November, there was strong affirmation and appreciation for her outstanding leadership during a time of great change and need. Kathryn is now on parental leave. The twins continue to make progress!

Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee

The early December meeting concentrated on goals for the future, receiving updates on the continuing ministry sharing, and responding to the Episcopal Convention’s request for a response on deacons and lay presidency. As we assessed what is happening, it is truly remarkable how many things we are doing together in staff, training, planting the church, and sharing best practices … and shared ministries.

Presiding Bishops and Ecumenical Staff Meeting

Ecumenical leaders of the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America met in Winnipeg on December 9-10. There were a lot of updates and some specific commitments for the year ahead, including sharing ecclesiology reports and a making a coordinated response to the WCC statement, advocacy  and international work, and planning agenda items for next year. This was Bishop Eaton’s opportunity to meet Archbishop Fred from the ACC. Both the bishops and the ecumenical staff enjoyed a productive meeting.

Board Meeting Highlights

From Conflict to Communion

Discussion of this document continued, this month focusing on Chapter 1. The board continues to encourage all LERN members to read From Conflict to Communion, especially the five imperatives (found in the last chapter) and to bring the document to the attention of his or her bishop as a possible vehicle for engagement with Roman Catholic colleagues. Our friends at CADEIO are making the report a priority and plan to explore it at the next NWCU. The board will discuss Chapter 2 at the January meeting.

LERN/NWCU Registration

Registration and payment of fees for the LERN annual meeting can be handled electronically this year. Just follow the link on the NWCU registration site. Remember to register by March 22 to get the early bird discount.

National Workshop on Christian Unity brochures are completed and will be sent out in January to synod offices, LERN members, and ELCA seminaries. Please plan now to get brochures into the hands of colleagues and seminarians and encourage them to join you in Albuquerque for this year's Workshop and meeting of LERN.

Next meeting: January 17, 2014

Monday, December 23, 2013

Floyd M. Schoenhals Distinguished Ecumenist Award

On November 7, 2013, the Oklahoma Conference of Churches (OCC) honored Monsignor Patrick Gaalaas with the third annual Floyd M. Schoenhals Distinguished Ecumenist Award. The award was instituted in November 2010 to recognize Bishop Schoenhals' significant ecumenical and interfaith accomplishments during his 17-year tenure as bishop of the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod. 

Among his many accomplishments, Bishop Schoenhals chaired the council of communion leaders for the OCC, worked closely to foster shared ministry with Presbyterian, Episcopal, United Church of Christ and Methodist clergy and congregations, hosted a Roman Catholic dialogue, and participated in many inter-faith dialogues with the Dialog Institute of the Southwest (formerly the Institute of Interfaith Dialog), which recently honored him with their Fethullah G├╝len Peace Award.

The 2013 recipient, Rev. Msgr. Patrick Gaalaas, was honored for his ecumenical and interfaith work in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa over his 41 years as a priest.  Msgr. Gaalaas has served as the CADEIO representative and Vicar General for the Diocese of Tulsa and on the boards of OCC, Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries and the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice (formerly the Oklahoma Conference of Christians and Jews).

Pictured (from left to right) are: Msgr. Patrick Gaalaas-2013 Schoenhals Distinguished

Ecumenist Award recipient, Bishop Emeritus Floyd Schoenhals, Dr. Dill Tabbernee-Executive

Director of OCC, Pr. Nathan Allen-President of OCC

Friday, December 6, 2013

Interfaith Prayer to End World Hunger

Held in conjunction with the week of World Food Prize events in Des Moines, Iowa in October, the Interfaith Prayer to End World Hunger service brought together people from many faith traditions to join in prayer for the eradication of hunger. The homilist was Peter Cardinal Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for International Justice and Peace, and a call to respond was issued by the Rev. David Beckman, President of Bread for the World and 2012 World Food Prize Laureate. Many bishops, judicatory heads, and religious leaders from a wide variety of faith communities provided worship leadership.

A copy of the liturgy, which may serve as a model for an interfaith service for ending hunger, is available on the website of the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines . . .

To see photos of the event . . .

Monday, December 2, 2013

Day of Prayer to End Hunger

Join people of faith in an international stream of prayers that will happen on Dec. 10. Pope Francis is calling on people around the world to pray on this day for an end to hunger. Please plan to pray - individually, in small groups, in community gatherings, at your church - on Dec. 10 at noon. Some congregations will also be praying during their worship services on Dec. 8. More information and prayer resources . . .

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Update - November 2013

From Don McCoid and Kathryn Lohre

ELCA – Catholic Bishops Meeting in Minnesota – October 24-25

This was a good opportunity to engage the bishops in From Conflict to Communion, as well as the progress we have made in 50 years of dialogue. Differences are evident in some social concerns. This was true when the Minnesota Bishops’ retreat ended in 2012. This retreat helped bring some renewed focus and sharing. The bishops will likely jointly plan some observances of the 500th Anniversary.  Bishop Sklba was a presenter for one of the session. Don did two sessions and led the discussion.

Farewell and Welcome

On Wednesday, October 30, the Churchwide Organization said farewell and thank you to Secretary David Swartling with a worship service and reception. The following day, Reformation Day, the same was held in honor or Bishop Hanson. Then on Friday, November 1, Bishop Eaton was welcomed with a service for All Saints Day and a reception. Secretary Chris Boerger was welcomed the following week. It was a very emotional time for staff who expressed their great appreciation for the service of Bishop Hanson, and a joyous welcome for Bishop Eaton and Secretary Boerger.

World Council of Churches

The 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches took place in Busan, Korea October 31 – November 8 under the theme, “God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace.” Our delegation included Vice President Carlos Pena, the Rev. Ann Tiemeyer (NCC Associate General Secretary for Joint Action and Advocacy for Justice and Peace), and young adult layperson Ulysses Burley. Pena and Burley were elected to the Central Committee for the next eight years, and Burley was also elected to serve on the Executive Committee for the next four years. Amongst the most significant actions of the Assembly were the adoption of a unity statement, the adoption of new governance documents, and the election of the first female African moderator, Agnes Aboum, an Anglican from Kenya. A significant focus of the Assembly was on peace, including peace between North and South Korea. Much of the Assembly was covered in real-time through social media and live streaming. Documents, photographs, videos, and news stories from the Assembly can be found online at:

Church Council

The ELCA Church Council met November 7-10 at The Lutheran Center. Vice President Carlos Pena flew directly from Busan into Chicago to chair the meeting! The Council welcomed 23 new members at this meeting, more than half of the current Council! In her report, Bishop Eaton lifted up the work of the Declaration on the Way, and the Lutheran-Jewish Summit that will be held in March 2014 – and underscored her request that Bishop Hanson continue to give leadership in these areas. She also asked Don to bring a brief report providing an update on a couple of items. The Council affirmed the charter for the ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations.

NCC Governing Board

The NCC Governing Board will meet next week – November 18-19, at The Lutheran Center to complete the work of the transition. The Search Committee will present its nominee for election, Jim Winkler – a lay person who currently serves as the general secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society. If elected, Winkler will serve a four-year term beginning on January 1, 2014. The board is also expected to adopt the new bylaws, which will become effective immediately, launching the transition between the current board and the new board composed of heads of communion. The new board will meet the second day to complete its business and to meet with Chicago area religious leaders to discuss issues of violence in the city.

Lutheran-Sikh Bi-Lateral Dialogue

We have had a preliminary conversation with the leadership of the World Sikh Council – America Region concerning a possible Lutheran-Sikh bi-lateral dialogue. A initial proposal for this will be jointly drafted in late November, early December to present initially to Bishop Eaton and the WSC-AR leadership. Interestingly, WSC-AR has had an ongoing bi-lateral dialogue with the USCCB since 2006. See: 

From Conflict to Communion

The report may be accessed here:

Feel  free to access it, read it, and seek local conversation. One bishop bought three books to share with bishops on his territory and invite conversation.

Board Meeting Highlights

From Conflict to Communion

The board discussed the Introduction and Five Ecumenical Imperatives and plans to discuss one of each of the remaining chapters at future meetings until we have worked our way through the document. The board encourages all LERN members to read From Conflict to Communion, especially the five imperatives (found in the last chapter) and bring the document to the attention of his or her bishop. Discussion of the report among local Lutheran and Catholic bishops could be a helpful way to begin shaping local commemorations for 2017.

LERN Ecumenist Award

All members of the network are encouraged to submit applications for this year's LERN Ecumenist Award. The award is given to someone who has made significant contributions toward advancing the ecumenical vision of the ELCA (which may be found here: Ecumenism: The Vision of the ELCA). Written nominations should be made to LERN President Chris Olkiewicz ( by February 1, 2014. The award will be presented at the National Workshop on Christian Unity in Albuquerque in April 2014.

Next Meeting -- December 20, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Update - October 2013

From Don McCoid and Kathryn Lohre

NCC Governing Board

The Governing Board met at the churchwide offices September 23-24. The Search Committee for the new GS/President narrowed the pool of candidates. The first day of the meeting was an ecclesiology consultation to explore the role of conciliar life in a rapidly changing ecclesial, ecumenical, and inter-religious context. The second day opened with a prayer service commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, after which the Board conducted its business, including a first reading of the new bylaws. The Board will meet again in November to adopt the new bylaws, to move into the new Governing Board of Heads of Communion, and to elect a new GS/President.

North American Academy of Ecumenists

The Academy met at our churchwide offices at the end of September. There are several ELCA persons in leadership. The theme was THE EMERGING FACE OF BEING ONE: Exploring Various Models of Christian Unity. There were very diverse presentations, including the Mormons.

Visitor from Finland

The Rev. Jukka Keskitalo, director general of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, made a visit to the Lutheran Center with his colleague in late September. He oversees the central administration of the church. We enjoyed time for fellowship and sharing about the churches, including the topics of the churches’ mission in the modern world, and the churches’ models for working in a time of rapid change.

Declaration on the Way

An organizing meeting for the Declaration on the Way was held by conference call on September 30. Assignments were made in the three areas: ecclesiology, ministry, and the Eucharist.

Conference of Bishops’ Meeting

This early-October meeting centered around Bishop Hanson’s last meeting and the installation of Bishop Eaton. Bishop Hanson provided a strong emphasis on ecumenism. With the number of new bishops, it is obvious that there is a change in the Conference.

Bishop Eaton

Presiding Bishop Eaton's installation was attended by a number of ecumenical and inter-religious guests, including full communion partners, global leaders (including the newly-elected Archbishop of Sweden, Antje Jackelen) and inter-religious partners including David Inlander representing the AJC, Amarjit Kaur representing the World Sikh Council – America Region, and Sayyid Sayeed representing ISNA.

As a follow-up, the WSC-AR asked if we would have interest in a preliminary conversation about a possible Lutheran-Sikh bi-lateral dialogue. We discussed this exciting opportunity with Bishop Eaton, and she has given her blessing for us to proceed in having the preliminary conversation.


The Committee on Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs of the USCCB held its meeting at the Lutheran Center on October 8. Bishop Eaton was invited to bring greetings.

Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign

A call-in for synod bishops and leaders was held on October 15. Bishops and/or synod leaders from Nebraska, Montana, SE Michigan, and SEPA were present. In addition to learning about the campaign and its resources, there was an opportunity for sharing from local contexts. The LERN board is invited to consider whether a similar call in would be helpful for its work.

Episcopal Church Executive Council

The Executive Council met at the ELCA offices from October 15-17. Various staff members presented to committees. Bishop Hanson offered a welcome that included how close our two churches are and what we are doing together in mission and ministry.

From Conflict to Communion

This report from the Lutheran-Catholic Commission on Unity may be downloaded from LWF:

Feel free to access it, read it, and seek local conversation. One bishop bought three books to share with bishops on his territory and invite conversation.

Christian-Jewish Leadership Summit

The summit has been set for March 27. Bishop Hanson will continue as co-convener with Rabbi Steve Gutow, and Bishop Eaton will also participate. We are very encouraged that this date has been set.

Board Meeting Highlights

Shoulder-To Shoulder

Several Bishops were trained at a one-hour phone session this past week through this organization that promotes Christian/Muslim relations. Shall we do a Board and/or Network also receive such resourcing?

We discussed the possibility of such resourcing to be available at a National Worship, possibly as part of our LERN Plenary, or as part of the Lutheran/Episcopal/Methodist Joint Plenary. Rocky will explore this option with the heads of the other Networks. Also, Kathryn will facilitate a phone-workshop with the Board.

From Conflict to Communion

We decided as a Board to read this document on Lutheran / Roman Catholic relations, and discuss it at the November board mtg. Don suggested that we first read the Foreword, and then the Five Imperatives (at the end of the document), then read the document. Tom is suggesting that LERN and the Catholic and Diocesan Ecumenical Officers Network have some time at a National Workshop to converse together using this document as a key piece.


At this next National Workshop, the schedule will be changed, so that our joint plenary (Lutheran/Episcopalian/Methodist) will take place when CADEIO has their continuing education sessions, so that we (LERN) can be in attendance with their (CADEIO) Plenary. This is a beginning for Lutheran / Roman Catholic conversations for the next three National Workshop events.

Financial Concerns

Wayne asked that as we look toward the next National Workshop, we explore options to help fund LERN members’ travel to the Workshop. Too many of our group are not financially supported, and cannot attend due to finances. One option is to create a format in which ecumenically-minded laity in our synods could support their local LERN members. 

On a different level, we are becoming more electronic, so possibly LERN members who are not present at a National Workshop will be able to be present, receiving the “streaming” of the session. This will be on the agenda in November.

Kristi & Eileen reported that we have $855 in our LERN account. 

The LERN Blog

Chris is seeking articles for the blog. Please contact him with ideas or submissions ( There have been almost 500 visits to the blog already. 

Next Board Phone Meeting - Friday, November 15, 2014

Friday, October 11, 2013

NWCU 2014 - Save the date!

Mark your calendar for the
National Workshop on Christian Unity
Albuquerque, New Mexico
April 28 - May 1, 2014

St. Paul asks, “Has Christ been Divided?”

We’ll discuss this question in workshops, Bible study, and worship
together with nationally recognized speakers.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Hanson Report Highlights Ecumenical Initiatives


October 4, 2013 

Hanson delivers final report as ELCA presiding bishop
Living Lutheran:

     ITASCA, Ill. (ELCA) -- In his final report to the Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the 4-million-member church, said several initiatives underway in the denomination will have a "significant impact on the future of this church." One such initiative is the ELCA's conversation with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the possibility of the "Declaration in Via" -- declaration on a path to unity.
     Meeting here Oct. 3-8, the ELCA Conference of Bishops is an advisory body of the church that includes 65 synod bishops, the presiding bishop and secretary. The Rev. Jessica R. Crist, bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod, chairs the conference.
     Hanson told the conference Oct. 4 that a "quiet conversation" between a small group of U.S. Catholics and ELCA theologians, which will center on ministry, Eucharist and study of the Christian church (ecclesiology), will hopefully culminate in a declaration to be shared with The Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican by 2017, the year in which Lutherans worldwide will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The federation is a global communion of 143 member churches in 79 countries worldwide. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.
     In 1999, Lutheran and Catholic leaders signed the Joint Declaration on doctrine of Justification -- a significant achievement in the history of Christian ecumenical relations. Signed by representatives of Federation and the Catholic Church in Augsburg, Germany, the agreement declares that The Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church have reached a common understanding on justification, agreeing that believers are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and not by works.
     "Two things to remember about the [declaration] are the seeds, that gave life to that, were planted in a quiet dialogue in the United States. Similarly, [today] we are testing a new conversation, planting those seeds and harvesting them," Hanson told the conference.
     "In my first visit to the Vatican and meeting Pope John Paul II, I shared that as long as I have breath . I will work tirelessly until we experience our unity at the table of the Eucharist. It is the vision, the gift and the task that is ours," he said, adding that the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop-elect, has encouraged Hanson to continue in this dialogue on behalf of this church.
     Other significant initiatives before the church include the first meeting of a committee on ecclesiology, which is charged with leading the ELCA in a conversation about "how we understanding the nature and purpose of this church."
     "How do we understand God's thought and purpose of creating this living body we call this church, and what does God have in mind for us?" he asked.
     Among the initiatives, Hanson cited this church's conversation on theological education, and "how will we raise, form and support leaders for the future of this church -- not just pastors, but leadership broadly and widely understood as a shared communal call."
     The presiding bishop also cited conversations with the U.S. Jewish community to establish "new norms for how we are in relationship," considering differences and opportunities.
     Another initiative underway is the work of a steering committee of the ELCA's first comprehensive fundraising campaign approved by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh this past summer. Hanson said that members of the steering committee are an "amazing gathering of people who love this church and see in this campaign" the priorities that ELCA members are "passionate about, as we continue to move forward."
     As he approaches the conclusion of his term, Hanson said there remains some "unfinished business," citing this church's renewed resolve in its engagement in the Middle East through the Peace Not Walls campaign, as well as mission funding.
     Hanson's second six-year term as ELCA presiding bishop will conclude Oct. 31. Eaton, bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod, will be installed as ELCA presiding bishop Oct. 5 at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel in Chicago and will take office Nov. 1. She was elected at the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
     "The privilege of serving as presiding bishop has been beyond measure," Hanson told the ELCA Conference of Bishops at the conclusion of his report. "These have not been 12 easy years. We have experienced diminished resources, declining membership . and yet, none of that has diminished the deep reservoir of joy that I have found in this calling, [and] the joy of serving the gospel."
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.

For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper, Manager of Public Relations

Friday, September 27, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Update - September 2013

From Don McCoid & Kathryn Lohre

LWF North American Regional Meeting

Martin Junge, General Secretary of the LWF, met with representatives of the ELCIC and the ELCA, our North America Committee of the LWF, on September 12.  We looked at possibilities of an expanded region including Latin America.  This would take some time to develop. We also discussed relationships and next steps with the Ethiopian Church.  We covered a range of concerns including Syria and a project for North America that would be included as a LWF development project.  It was a very informative and good meeting.

Chapter 3 of the Constitution (Ecclesiology) Meeting

On September 13, we had our first meeting on ecclesiology. This is in response to looking at the ELCA constitution that is very good in naming the three expressions of the ELCA (congregations, synods, and churchwide), but is limited in considering the wider expression of the church (LWF as our communion of churches and the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church).  Lowell Almen provided a wonderful history of developments within the United States, as well as information surrounding the constitutional developments when the ELCA was formed. I guided the group through the World Council of Church’s ecclesiology document that will be considered later this year.  We have a good step and good group for this study on ecclesiology.

ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations

The Panel is meeting today at The Lutheran Center.  Agenda items include an update on the planning for the Leadership Summit (the invitation has gone out with a date search for early 2014); reflection on CWA actions that impact Jewish relations; face-to-face dialogue with Rabbi Mikva of CTS on the role and potential of encouraging young adult participation in Christian (Lutheran)-Jewish dialogue; and about educational materials needed for “ordinary folks.” Michael Chan, a new assistant professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary, will join the Panel for the first time. The Panel has drafted and submitted a charter re. its self-understanding and work for consideration by the ELCA Church Council in November. Please note that there is a new educational resource available through the Shalom Hartman Institute in cooperation with Muhlenberg College entitled, “New Paths: Christians Engaging Israel.” Dr. Peter Pettit has been a leader of this project.

NCC Governing Board

The Board will meet Monday-Tuesday September 23-24 at The Lutheran Center. The Search Committee for the new GS/President will meet Sunday night preceding the Board meeting, seeking to narrow the candidates in a process that is anticipated to culminate in an election at the November Board meeting. On Monday morning the Heads of Communion will meet to discuss their future role as Governing Board. Following that meeting, the current Governing Board will convene for a day-long ecclesiology consultation. The purpose will be to explore the role of the Council in a rapidly changing ecclesial, ecumenical, and multi-religious landscape. The Board will conduct its business all day on Tuesday, during which time action will be taken with regard to spin-offs, a first reading of the new by-laws will take place, and a progress report from the search committee will be received. The Board will also celebrate the joint occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington through a prayer service (at which the Rev. Neichelle Guidry-Jones of Trinity UCC Chicago will guest preach) and through adopting a statement entitled “Pursuing the Dream.”

Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign Call-In

Shoulder to Shoulder: Standing with American Muslims; Upholding American Values has worked with us to create an opportunity for synod bishops and leaders to learn more about the Campaign, and how to get involved at the “local” level. S2S will host a one-hour call-in on October 15. The call will focus on three main goals:

  1. Introducing Shoulder-to-Shoulder’s goals for a national network
  2. Asking you for feedback about what you would like to see from a national support body and what would be most beneficial in the work to end anti-Muslim sentiment
  3. Formally inviting interfaith, faith-based and religious organizations to join the Shoulder-to-Shoulder Campaign as Community Members
You can also Sign up for Shoulder-to-Shoulder’s biweekly eNewsletter for resources, information and up-to-date opportunities regarding anti-Muslim sentiment.

Board Meeting Highlights

News regarding Presiding Bishop-elect Eaton

The Board was thrilled that Presiding Bishop-elect Eaton asked Don McCoid to stay on, working with Kathryn in the Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations office.

There will be thirteen “ecumenical” and “inter-relgious” leaders present at Bishop Eaton’s Installation, and at least five of our global partners.  Eileen is instrumental in organizing what is needed for them.

Financial Update

We now have our own account, with $810 in that account.  The Board will use this money for scholarships, or for other needed items.

The EIR Office helped to pay for the Lutheran’s expenses at last year’s National Workshop Luncheon.

Participants attending next year’s National Workshop will be able to pay their LERN dues electronically.

National Planning Committee News  - Rocky Piro

The National Planning Committee and the Local Planning committee are consolidating.  After 2014 there will just be a National Committee, with local people present.

The schedule at the Workshop will be similar to what has been in the past few years, including three times that LERN will meet as a Network.  The question was raised, “What do we do with non-Network people?”  Answer: the schedule will have alternating business/informative sessions alternating between Roman Catholics and Protestants, so that when one group has a business meeting, the other group (s) will have seminars, and then visa-versa.  Thus attendees who are not connected to a Network may attend seminars throughout the Workshop.

There is a commitment to continue having a joint plenary.

What do we want to do with our LERN plenary time?  We will be exploring that question in the months ahead.  It could be something appropriate to the local (Albuquerque) needs, EIR Information, Shoulder to Shoulder, Network Mechanics, theological training, etc.

Letters of Thanks

On behalf of the LERN Community a letter of thanks was sent to Bishop Hanson, and a letter of congratulations was sent to Bishop Eaton, both on Monday, September 23.


The Blog, sponsored by President  Chris Olkiewicz, is up and running.  The report from EIR will be posted there, as well as these minutes.  An e-mail will be sent to members of the Network, notifying them that the minutes are located there on the blog.

Future articles for the blog may include:
Week of prayer for Christian Unity
Information about the National Workshop
Ecumenical Advocacy Days
Info about ecumenical events in Strasbourg, Rome, etc.

Next Board Phone-Meeting – Oct 18 (tentative)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Welcome to the Lutheran Ecumenical Representatives Network blog! This is the place to find:
  • Monthly updates from Don McCoid and Kathryn Lohre about the work of ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations
  • Notes from the monthly meetings of the LERN Executive Board
  • News, information, and feature stories related to the work of LERN
If you are a network member or already on the LERN mailing list, you will still receive an email from Tim when the monthly updates are available. The only difference is you will find them by following the link here rather than as an attachment to Tim’s email. You may also sign up at right to be notified via email whenever new content is posted.

The blog will replace the print newsletter LERNing. If you would like to suggest a topic for an article, or even better, write something to appear here, please contact any member of the board:

Chris Olkiewicz, President -
Mary Finklea, Vice President  -
Tim Philabaum, Secretary -
Nathan Allen -
Owen Williams -
Rocky Piro, Past President -
Kristi Weber, Treasurer -

Please let us know what you think about this new way of communicating, and share the blog address with anyone whom you think would be interested. It's not for LERN members only. All are welcome!

Update - August 2013

The Rev. Donald J. McCoid
Kathryn M. Lohre

  1. UCC General Synod, Long Beach, California, June 28-29 – Kathryn attended the UCC General Synod in both her ELCA and NCC roles. Three UCC officers, including General Minister and President Geoffrey Black, were re-elected by the Synod. The five officers presented their “Bold Inspirational Goals” or BIGs to the Synod, as the UCC seeks to shape its vision for the future. The Synod passed a resolution re. divestment from fossil fuels, an historic first among churches in the US. Other issues addressed by the Synod included: immigration reform, bullying, racial justice, and gender justice. The Synod was held in the days immediately following the Supreme Court action to strike down DOMA, clearing the way for marriage equality to return to California. A same-gender marriage was celebrated by those gathered, receiving significant media attention.
  2. Lutheran-Moravian Coordinating Committee, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, July 14-16 – Kathryn attended the LMCC meeting held in conjunction with the Moravian Music Festival in Bethlehem, PA. Bishop Zeiser hosted the committee. The co-chairs from the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee, and members of the Episcopal-Moravian Coordinating Committee were also present for parts of the meeting. The meeting kicked-off with the opening worship of the Music Festival, which was a Love Feast celebration of the three full communion relationships. Leaders from each of the churches were present. There were opportunities throughout the meeting for learning about the Moravian tradition through historic sites in Bethlehem. The LMCC’s work focused on developing an historic timeline of the Committee’s work since its inception; reviewing a 6 year plan and terms of service; possible future connecting points with LECC and MECC; and visits to local sites of shared ministries. The most inspiring visit was to a Moravian Hispanic ministry that is being hosted by an historic Lutheran congregation that was originally formed to serve the needs of eastern European immigrants. A time of sharing amongst the three judicatory leaders, who are in very close, intentional relationship, was also a time of immense richness, serving as a model for possible reception of full communion agreements in other places.
  3. Delegation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, July 24-25, Chicago, Illinois – Bishop Hanson hosted a delegation from the ELKB at the Lutheran Center, including OberKirchenrat Michael Martin, Kirchenrat Ivo Huber, and the Rev. Anne Burghardt (Department of Theology and Public Witness). Several ELCA staff members met with them to share about the work of the ELCA, including EIR. Over lunch with Bishop Hanson, we shared updates about our ecumenical and inter-religious work, and heard about the emerging role of Islam in Bavaria. They had a particular interest in hearing about the challenges in relationship with Mekane Yesus, and Bishop Hanson offered an update from the recent LWF Council Meeting. The delegation came to us from Elkhart, Indiana, where they had been hosted by the Mennonites.
  4. ELCA Churchwide Assembly, August 12-17, Pittsburgh, PA –  The center of the Assembly was the elected of the Presiding Bishop. While Bishop Hanson had a wide margin on the first ballot, he did not have 50% of the vote.  This shifted as other ballots were cast.  Bishop Eaton surged ahead on the 3rd ballot and she continued to increase her margin.  We wish to give Bishop Hanson our deep appreciation for the support that he offered to ecumenical and inter-religious relations, as well as his leadership as our Presiding Bishop.  Bishop Eaton has been supportive through her role on our EIR Liaison Committee and as a member of the ELCA-TEC Coordinating Committee.   She has asked Don to stay through this transition time as we support Kathryn and as we look forward to Kathryn returning to full time work.

The witness of our ecumenical and inter-religious leaders at the Assembly was a highlight that was well received by our voting members.  Those who addressed the assembly provided a strong endorsement of our ecumenical and inter-religious partnership.  A reception on Thursday evening provided an opportunity to interact and share our continued vision.  Bishop Hanson’s remarks were focused.  He considered this the highlight of the assembly and his legacy.
In addition, there was a fine memorial that was adopted on the Middle East and also Immigration Reform.  The Social Statement on Criminal Justice was passed by the widest margin that we have ever had for a social statement.  Bishop Chris Boerger was elected Secretary.
Other updates:
  • Declaration on the Way: We will have a conference call next Thursday.  Bishop Eaton has supported Bishop Hanson being the co-chair for this important work.
  • Christian-Jewish Leadership Summit: Planning is moving ahead for the leadership summit of Jewish and Christian leaders, and it is anticipated that such a meeting would take place in late 2013 or more likely in early 2014. The meeting will be co-convened by Bishop Hanson and Steve Gutow, with the principals of the other Christian and Jewish organizations participating. Bishop Elect Eaton has offered her support for Bishop Hanson to continue in this convening role, and she will also seek to be present. The meeting will focus on the relationships, and how they are tended to, particularly in challenging times.
  • The NCC is currently in the midst of a search for its next General Secretary/President. The Governing Board will seek to elect a candidate at its November 2013 meeting. Information about the search, including a profile and job description, can be found at Please pray for the Council as it seeks the right leader to carry forward the work of this transitional period, and to lead the Council as it seeks to be responsible to its legacy and responsible to the rapidly changing ecclesial, ecumenical, and inter-religious landscape.
  • The LWF Council meeting in June addressed many things, but most especially the relationship as a Communion of Churches.  With the Ethiopian Church’s action, the LWF will continue a conversation with the ELCA. Church of Sweden, and the Ethiopian Church.
  • The LWF-Vatican statement From Conflict to Communion is a real gift.  We intend to send it to our synod bishops and will copy you in what we send.  It is a statement prepared for the 2017 observance.  It has great potential for local discussion.  The Catholic Conference of Bishops will be asked by the ELCA on how to implement this important work in local settings.
  • We have a very full Fall schedule and are preparing a guidebook for Bishop Eaton to orient her on our ecumenical and inter-religious work and calendar.

From Kathryn: I would like to share a special word of thanks for your prayers and support in these past weeks, as the twins we were expecting were born two months prematurely. It has been a challenging time, but we give thanks to God that both Hannah and Benjamin are making steady progress. Both of them will be in the NICU for several weeks, likely until their original due date of October 21. We ask for your continued prayers as we walk this journey with them.

Board Meeting Highlights
  • The board will send a letter of thanks to Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson in appreciation of his support for and advancement of ecumenical and inter-religious relations. The board will send a letter of welcome to Presiding Bishop-Elect Elizabeth Eaton.
  • The Metro Chicago Synod is working with the Catholic and Episcopal dioceses to plan events in recognition of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. Their work could become a model to share with others. Kristi will keep us apprised of developments.
  • Rocky is preparing to attend the NWCU National Planning Committee meeting.
  • We noted the passing of Brother Jeffrey Gros and mourn his death.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Under construction

This blog is currently under construction. Check back soon for monthly updates from LERN and ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations and other news and information.

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