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.

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