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February 2014 Update

From Kathryn Lohre and Don McCoid

Declaration on the Way

January 29-31 was the first meeting of scholars from the ELCA and appointees from the Catholic Conference of Bishops to work on a Declaration on the Way (to unity). Papers were shared in three areas that will make up the Declaration: Ecclesiology, Ministry, and the Eucharist. Significant progress was made and assignments were made to continue working on a declaration that will form the basis for a document that will seal agreements on these important areas. The Vatican is aware and supportive of this work. It is hoped that both the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation will receive this Declaration as a contribution to the anniversary of the Reformation.


The group met in Washington, D.C. February 20-23. This formal dialogue between the ELCA and the USCCB is addressing authoritative sources in our churches that lead to decisions, especially moral and ethical concerns. This subject was chosen after the Catholic Church requested more conversation and theological consideration about authority and decision making in our churches.

Christian Churches Together

Bishop Eaton attended the meeting of the heads of communion of CCT. Bishop Burkat, Judith Roberts, and Don McCoid attended the annual meeting of CCT in Newark, New Jersey. The main emphasis was mass incarceration. Speakers made presentations about some of the major issues and the racial dimensions that lead to incarceration and unequal judicial sentencing. Interaction among the five families (Catholics, Orthodox, Mainline Protestants, Historic Black, and Evangelical/Pentecostal Churches) provided an opportunity for faith sharing.

Jewish-Christian Relations

Preparations for the leadership “Summit” of Jewish and Christian leaders being held in late March are well underway. This meeting was organized in response to the tensions that surfaced after 15 Christian leaders sent a letter to Congress in October 2012 calling for an end to unconditional US military aid to Israel. The meeting will focus on tending to relationships, particularly when we hold divergent views. At Bishop Eaton’s request, the Rev. Mark Hanson will continue to serve as co-convener with Rabbi Steve Gutow of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and Bishop Eaton will participate as well.

The ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish has prepared and published a resource entitled, “Why Follow Luther Past 2017? A Contemporary Lutheran Approach to Inter-Religious Relations,” as a contribution toward the 500th observance of the Reformation. The resource acknowledges the challenges of Luther’s anti-Judaic legacy and goes on to offer four of Luther’s key principles that can helpfully be applied to contemporary inter-religious relations. Download the resource here . . .

Board meeting highlights

The entire meeting was spent finalizing the schedule for the LERN Annual Meeting, held in conjunction with the National Workshop on Christian Unity in Albuquerque, April 28 - May 1. A pre-Workshop blogpost will follow here soon with a schedule of LERN events and other NWCU information. If you are making travel arrangements now, note that the first LERN meeting begins at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, April 28. See you in Albuquerque!


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Reformation 500 Commemoration Events

We are now posting sermons and bulletins from Reformation 500 commemoration services and events in the Reformation 500+ section above. If you have a sermon manuscript, a bulletin, or other material that you would like to share, email it to me at Let us see what you did and inspire us with your witness to Christian unity!

With thanks,

Chris Olkiewicz
Dear Members and Friends of LEIRN:

The National Workshop on Christian Unity fast approaches. During our LEIRN meeting on Monday afternoon we will be reflecting on the significance of the year past during which we commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. You are invited to bring something for show and tell! It might be an image, the worship folder from a local liturgy, the brochure or poster from a lecture or symposium — any physical item from a local event to give us a sense of the breadth and richness of activities from this significant year. If you prefer, you may email me a photo or file prior to the Workshop, and I will incorporate it into a slideshow to be projected during our meeting. Send any items to me at We will also ask you to say a brief word about your event.

If you are planning to register for the NWCU, be aware that registration fees and room rates increase after March 23. Act soon to take advantage of these discounts. I hope to see you n…