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 (revcdo@gmail.com). 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: http://www.livinglutheran.com

     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

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