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November/December Update

Dear Friends:

Here is the most recent update from Kathryn and Don and the highlights from our recent board conference call, which featured a conversation with Marcus Kunz, the ELCA's Executive for Theological Discernment, about Churchwide observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. We are planning to devote significant time to that topic at our annual meeting at the NWCU in April. Stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, put April 20-23 on your calendar, and look for National Workshop flyers to arrive soon.

In Christ,

The LEIRN Board

From Don McCoid and Kathryn Lohre

Full Communion Partners 

Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee

The Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee (LECC) met in Detroit November 5-7, hosted by the ELCA SE Michigan Synod, and Bishop Don Kreiss as the new ELCA co-chair. The Committee’s work focused on conversation around CCM going forward, the challenges and opportunities. Integral to this was conversation was time spent with local clergy leaders learning about vibrant joint ministries, including the Spirit of Hope Church, a joint ministry of the TEC and ELCA, one of the four congregations making up the Detroit Cooperative Parish, and Advent Episcopal Church in West Bloomfield, which shared space with Sylvan Lake Lutheran Church. 

ELCA-UMC Coordinating Committee

The coordinating committee met November 13-14 in Chicago. Staff counterparts Stephen Bouman (ELCA) and Doug Ruffle (UMC) offered presentations about each church’s respective work in congregational vitality and evangelical outreach, and engaged in conversation with the committee about possible points of joint work.  A week later, Stephen and Doug had a follow up meeting to continue the conversation, and set a date in early 2015 for their next face-to-face meeting to further connect their staffs and to develop concrete next steps. Stacy Martin (ELCA) and Susan Henry-Crowe (UMC) also offered presentations about each church’s advocacy work separately and together in ecumenical and inter-religious coalitions. They participated in discussion with the committee about possible points of convergence for the future. A celebratory worship service was held during the meeting. Bishop Wayne Miller (ELCA Metro Chicago) preached, and Bishop Sally Dyck (UMC Northern Illinois Conference) presided. Please continue to use the anniversary to lift up the formation template.

Bi-Lateral Conversations

From Conflict to Communion Study Guide

The study guide was developed by the Pittsburgh dioceses and the SW PA Synod. Your review would be very much appreciated.  We have a meeting next week in Pittsburgh, so any input would be very helpful. It is found attached along with this report.


National Council of Churches Governing Board Meeting

The NCC Governing Board met in St. Louis November 17-18, hosted by the Washington Metropolitan AMEZ Church. This meeting of heads of communion, ecumenical officers, and local clergy and activists was focused on the churches’ response to and presence in Ferguson. During the Board meeting, the Governor of MO declared a state of emergency. The Board prepared a statement which was read in a press event at Wellspring Church (UMC) in Ferguson. 

500th Observance

The LWF will be publishing a website of resources in early 2015, which will include a liturgy for 2017. Some resources are already available, including the 2014 worship service on the theme, “Salvation – Not for Sale,” flyer, logos, and general information.

Inter-Religious Relations

Jewish-Christian Roundtable on Pastoral Issues

The NCC and the National Council of Synagogues co-sponsored the national Jewish-Christian Roundtable on Pastoral Issues November 12-13 in Washington DC. Kathryn Lohre, Darrell Jodock, and Don Green were present for ELCA. The theme was “How we welcome the ‘other’ in our congregations.” There were two text studies – one from the Hebrew Scriptures and the Talmud, and the other from the NT Scriptures and the Patristic Fathers. All presentations focused on the challenges and imperatives to welcome the other, with particular reference to LGBT persons, the incarcerated and their families, returning veterans (including those with PTSD), and interfaith spouses and families. There was strong enthusiasm, and agreement to plan a next meeting of the dialogue. The Middle East Issues Roundtable, originally scheduled to meet in conjunction with this Roundtable, was once again suspended. 

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Declaration to the Jewish Community adopted by the ELCA Church Council. There is a brief news article lifting this up in the current issue of The Lutheran.

National Muslim-Christian Dialogue Planning Team

On October 20 the planning team for the National Muslim-Christian Dialogue met at The Lutheran Center. This round of the dialogue will be co-sponsored by the NCC and the Islamic Circle of North America, and it will be held in conjunction with the ICNA convention in May 2015 (Memorial Day weekend). Draft themes include: mass incarceration; issues around violence against minorities by law enforcement and continued racial profiling; and changing the conversation around extremist ideology, and how to bring such conversations into our local communities. 

Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign Steering Committee

The Steering Committee met in DC November 19, and Kathryn participated by phone. A major business item had to do with developing a plan for creating a local media response with the efforts of national denominational agencies. The work the ELCA has been able to accomplish in this regard – with Bishop Gonia and Bishop Girlinghouse writing op-eds and developing events in response to local anti-Muslim incidents – formed the basis for a proposed policy. (Thanks, Nathan, for your help in this work!) 

David Grafton’s Course

On December 1, Kathryn skyped in to be a guest lecturer in David Grafton’s course at LTSP on "Luther, the Jews and the Turk.” She shared historic information and recent updates about Lutheran-Jewish and Lutheran-Muslim relations, and led the students in discussions of two case studies. 

Board Highlights

We were joined by Marcus Kunz, Executive for Theological Discernment, for a discussion of the ELCA’s initiative to commemorate the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Marcus emphasized that 2017 is an important milestone and wonderful opportunity to make an evangelical witness in the world at a time when many people will be paying attention to the church. The anniversary is not an occasion to celebrate our Lutheran-ness, but an opportunity to witness to who we are in Christ.

The commemoration can be seen in at least two relational spheres: within and among congregations, and in a wider public sphere because of the media attention that will come. There will also be a global dimension: inter-Lutheran, ecumenical, and inter-religious.

The ELCA’s initiative is being shaped by three principles:

Respect for interdependence. The initiative is not owned by any one expression of the church — Churchwide, synods, congregations. All are engaging it in different ways. Other groups and institutions will also be involved.
Affirmation of local creativity and initiative. The ELCA observance is not a top-down thing. Initiative will come from everywhere.
Good, effective communication. Good communication is important so that all have an opportunity to use and share resources. Communication needs to be two-way: both sharing and receiving. Anything that LEIRN develops or plans that can be shared with others should be communicated to Churchwide.

The Churchwide organization will be planning some events that no one else is in a position to plan (i.e., 2015 Worship Jubilee and 2016 Grace Gathering—to inspire and equip congregational and synodical leaders for local observances, to be held in conjunction with the 2016 CWA).

There will be some limited funding to help support initiatives.

Received report from Kathryn and Don (attached).

Discussed NPC/NWCU planning work. The Workshop brochure should be available soon. Please begin sharing information early. Additional plenary ideas may be communicated to Rocky. At this time, three trajectories are on the table: Shoulder-to-Shoulder, 500th Anniversary initiatives, update from Don and Kathryn. Cheryl Pedersen may be in attendance and could incorporated into one of our sessions. Bishop Eaton and two synodical bishops will be participating in opening worship and could possibly be pulled into the Monday afternoon plenary. Additional planning work, including on the LEIRN/CADEIO joint plenary, will happen at the Delray Beach meeting in early February.

Board members are encouraged to follow up on vacancies in their region and encourage the appointment of EIRs where possible.

Next meeting: January 16, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. Central


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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…