Wednesday, September 4, 2013

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 www.ncccusa.org 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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