Skip to main content

September Update

The board did not meet in August. Here's the latest update from our recent meeting with Don and Kathryn and other highlights.

From Kathryn Lohre and Don McCoid

Presiding Bishop’s Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

The Presiding Bishop intended to travel to Israel, Palestine and Jordan in late July/early August with a small delegation to visit the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Due to the war, the trip was postponed, and will likely be rescheduled in early 2015.

Word and Service Entrance Rite Meeting

Kathryn and Don attended this meeting on July 30-31. There is a one roster committee that is developing rationale for the unification of the three lay rosters (AIMs, Diaconal Ministers, and Deaconesses). The Word and Service Entrance Rite task force was established by the Church Council to recommend whether a person entering this one roster would be ordained, consecrated, and/or commissioned.

Don shared the practice of the Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church, and LWF Churches. The distinction between Word and Service and Word and Sacrament ministers continues to be an area that needs further clarification and understanding. Ordination to Word and Service would not give a person who is ordained sacramental privileges (e.g., presiding at Holy Communion).
This is an important time to look at lay ministry in the ELCA. The question of how a person would enter this office has divided opinions.

Conference call with ELCA College/University Presidents

On August 8, Presiding Bishop Eaton convened a conference call of those ELCA college/university presidents who attended the Interfaith Understanding conference held at Augustana, Rock Island in June. This was an opportunity to reflect on the conference, and to consider next steps. It is hoped that the annual meetings of the presidents, as well as the Association of Teaching Theologians, might include interfaith understanding one the agendas for their 2015 meetings. Several colleges will be participating in a Lily grant to the Interfaith Youth Core for deepening and expanding interfaith engagement on Lutheran campuses.

Formula of Agreement Ecumenical Officers’ Conference Call

On August 13, Kathryn participated in a conference call with Robina Winbush (PCUSA), Karen Georgia Thompson (UCC), and Wes Granberg-Michaelson (RCA) regarding next steps for FOA reception. Three major tasks emerged: bringing together staff colleagues who work on candidacy/ordained ministry placement and call; bringing together heads of communion to assess where we move forward together – in light of significant ecclesial and ecumenical changes, as well as the breadth of full communion relationships each church now has; and connecting staff colleagues who are working on the 500th observance of the Reformation, noting the intersections with the Reformed-Catholic Dialogue. It is hoped that meetings of staff colleagues and heads of communion will take place in 2015.

Note: We received a request from the PCUSA for an appointee to serve a term on their General Assembly Committee for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations. Chris Olkiewicz has confirmed his willingness, and been affirmed by his bishop, the presiding bishop and his beloved family, to serve in this capacity. Thanks, Chris!

NCC Executive Committee Meeting

The NCC Executive Committee met at the Coptic Village Retreat Center in Big Bear Lake, California, at the gracious invitation of Bishop Serapion. For the first time in over a decade, the NCC has a considerable budget surplus. This will allow for critical staff positions, including communications and development, to be built back into the structure, along with Ann Tiemeyer’s successor as Associate General Secretary for Action and Advocacy. These jobs have been posted at – please spread the word.

The Committee spent the majority of its time considering faithful responses to Ferguson, Syria, Israel/Palestine, and the unaccompanied minors crisis at the border. Chairman Roy Medley and Jim Winkler took part in an ABCUSA sponsored prayer vigil at the border later that same week.

Planning for the 2015 Christian Unity Gathering was also part of the Committee’s work. Evaluations for the first CUG were very positive. One significant concern was the need for additional working time for the Convening Tables. The format for the 2015 CUG will seek to address this by providing significant time in groups and minimal time in plenary. There will be major public events related to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide at the National Cathedral.
The Coptic Church provided remarkable hospitality for the Executive Committee, with lay leaders from the greater Los Angeles areas volunteering to provide rides and cook meals (including traditional Egyptian fare.) Please consider Coptic Village for your next retreat (aka Majestic Moose Lodge).

Declaration on the Way (to Unity)

This special task force of ELCA and Catholic scholars met in Chicago on August 26-28th. The goal of our work is juridical reception of the convergences/differentiated consensus by both the LWF and the Vatican.

Unresolved differences will be separated from the juridical reception proposal, as well as pastoral implications of the extensive agreements. An example of the pastoral implications would be the sharing of the Eucharist. While there will be theological agreements in the juridical reception of the agreements, the Eucharistic sharing will be presented separately.
The next meeting will be a conference call on December 1 to receive updates from each of the three working groups (Eucharist, Ecclesiology, and Ministry). The meeting in Washington on January 28-31 will be a significant one in order to develop a final draft that could be shared with the LWF and Vatican.

Interfaith Youth Core

On August 27 Kathryn went downtown Chicago for a meeting with Eboo Patel at the offices of the Interfaith Youth Core. The purpose of the meeting was to deepen relationships, discuss the details of the Lily grant referenced above, and to identify possible areas of partnership, including the Interactive Learning center at the 2015 Youth Gathering. A joint working group made up of members from the Lutheran-Jewish and Lutheran-Muslim Consultative Panels had earlier submitted its proposal for inter-religious engagement, which were accepted by Youth Gathering leadership. Ideas include: “speed faithing,” art installations, living room discussion space, etc. IFYC may partner with our office in order to bring in college-age leaders from ELCA colleges to serve as hosts and guides for this interactive learning.

Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Convention

On August 29, Kathryn accompanied Bishop Eaton to Detroit for the 51st annual ISNA Convention. This event is primarily a gathering that inspired and unites Sunni and Shiite Muslims in the US. The theme this year was, “Generations Rise: Elevating Muslim American Culture.” Bishop Don Kreiss of the Southeast Michigan Synod joined us there for the afternoon. We enjoyed time meeting the participants of the first-ever Interfaith Seminarian Seminar, an educational program for Jewish, Christian, and Muslim seminarians sponsored by the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign. The ELCA was pleased to have Kristen Klade, a seminarian at LSTC, participate in the program. We shared the Christian-Muslim Talking Points resource.

We observed the Friday Jummah prayers in a large hall as guests. Long rolls of corrugated cardboard had been rolled out to be used as prayer rugs. A large inflatable minaret belonging to the Muslim Boy Scouts of America stood near the stage where the outgoing ISNA president, Imam Magid, offered the sermon.

Afterward, during the opening plenary Bishop Eaton offered greetings to the Convention. She lifted up our longstanding partnership, and the need to stand together against extremism of all kinds. She shared Luther’s explanation of the 8th commandment, and our responsibility to defend the neighbor.

Before the event began, our offices began to receive some contacts from concerned individuals who had learned that she would be addressing the Convention. We were able to share an audio recording (attached to this report) of Bishop Eaton’s address, along with an explanation of our partnership, that seemed to address the concerns being raised.

Simone Sinn, Lutheran World Federation

On September 3, Kathryn hosted her counterpart from the LWF, Simone Sinn, who was in town for the hermeneutics conference being hosted at LSTC. Simone is the LWF Study Secretary for Public Theology and Interreligious Relations, with particular expertise in Christian-Muslim relations in Asia. We were able to share some of the issues and hopes we are facing, and it was a very good opportunity for relationship building.

National Workshop on Christian Unity

Rocky Piro and Kathryn attended the NWCU National Planning Committee meeting in Charlotte, September 8-10.

Reminders & Resources

LWF interfaith panel – to be streamed on September 18. On July 15, Kathryn participated in an online recording session for an international panel discussion on inter-religious relations as part of an LWF virtual conference on transformative diakonia, “Called to Be Transformed and Transforming.” The other participants were Ms. Helen Haggai, TEKAN Peace Desk in Jos, Nigeria , and Mr. Lusungu Mbilinyi, Zanzibar Interfaith Center, Tanzania. The session was moderated by the Rev. Dr. Simone Sinn, LWF Study Secretary for Public Theology and Interreligious Relations. The virtual conference will take place on September 18. For more information and to register see:

The ELCA-UMC one day formation template has been professionally designed and formatted, just in time for the 5th anniversary of the full communion agreement this year. The PDF is on the ELCA website or simply click the link at the top of this page.

“Why Follow Luther Past 2017? A Contemporary Lutheran Approach to Inter-Religious Relations” was prepared by the ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations as a contribution toward the 500th observance of the Reformation. Please continue to lift this up through your work. It is available for download at and we also have a limited number of copies that we could share with you, upon request.

Board highlights

National Workshop News

The 2014 Workshop ended with a financial deficit, due mainly to hotel expenses regarding media usage.

There is a new Webmaster (Rick Caporelli) for the Workshop. Network registrations will be fully integrated into the NWCU website. He is also creating a database of past workshop participants. This will help with communication, PR, etc.

Charlotte 2015

Funding resources were discussed. Could Thrivent sponsor a breakfast (such as Graymoor)? Rocky will explore this with some of our local LEIRN members. Are there individuals or groups within the ELCA who might have resources to support the Workshop? We will include this topic in future LEIRN conversations. The NPC will also be looking at other sources, such as Lilly.

A fifth network, “Evangelicals,” is forming for this year's Workshop. There will be six seminars instead of nine. Amy-Jill Levine will be one of the keynote speakers.

There will be two combined Network Plenaries – EDEIO (Episcopalian) & UMEIT (United Methodist) will join, having Tex Sample as a resource; LEIRN (Lutherans) & CADEIO (Roman Catholics) will join around the topic of “Reforms and Reformation.” Mary Finklea & Tim Philabaum have agreed to join the Roman Catholic cohorts to work on this plenary. One of our LEIRN plenaries will be devoted to the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign.

An evening event (Wednesday) is being planned to explore how Christians from different Christian traditions work together on the inter-religious front.

Jim Langley and Pierson Shaw are serving as local ELCA people for this Charlotte Workshop.

Registration is set to increase by $25.

Thanks to Tim Philabaum for submitting the minutes. Next meeting: October 24, 2014.


Popular posts from this blog

Staff Report to the LEIRN Board

January 2018
…and just like that, 2017 is now in the past. We can see clearly in hindsight how the joint commemoration service and stadium events in Sweden on October 31, 2016 set the stage for a remarkable year of public acts of ecumenical relations, reconciliation, and cooperation globally, and in our local settings. Thank you, LEIRN, for your significant role in all things 2017. You have been instrumental in planning, prodding, supporting, promoting, participating in, and leading various initiatives, events, and long-term efforts. You helped this anniversary to be markedly different, and in doing so you greatly enhanced our church’s ecumenical self-understanding and witness for the future as we seek to walk together with our sisters and brothers in Christ and neighbors on the way to unity, justice, and peace. In Conflict to Communion, we are reminded that, “In view of 2017, the point is not to tell a different history, but to tell that history differently.”…

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…