Dear Members of the Lutheran Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Representatives Network,
As you are likely aware, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has been looking toward our future in a process named “Called Forward Together in Christ.” Many of you have no doubt offered feedback about future directions through conversations at your synod assembly or in another setting or by participating in the online survey. The LEIRN board engaged the process in June and offered input on behalf of the network.
A future directions paper that summarizes the input gathered from across the church is now available at http://www.elca.org/future. Two statements in the section entitled “Key Messages From Across This Church” reflect the importance of ecumenical and inter-religious engagement to our self-understanding:
“Ecumenism is at the core of the ELCA’s confessions and beliefs. We are committed to our full communion partners and to dialogue with ecumenical partners locally and globally.”
“We engage in dialogue and collaboration with other faiths for the sake of justice, reconciliation and peace in the world” (p. 9).
Yet when proposed priorities for the ELCA to 2021 are articulated (p. 17), ecumenical and inter-religious work are not specifically reflected. This may be cause for some concern. If ecumenism and inter-religious work are, indeed, central to our D.N.A. as a church, as the findings above suggest, then it would seem important to state them explicitly as priorities for our forward direction.
Feedback on the proposed priorities is welcome and being received until September 9 at http://www.elca.org/future or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I encourage you to offer your feedback and specifically to call for the ELCA to deepen and expand its ecumenical and inter-religious commitments as stated priorities for the future direction of this church.
The resounding affirmation of Declaration on the Way at the 2016 Churchwide Assembly is but one manifestation of the vibrant ecumenical and inter-religious witness of the ELCA. As one committed to that work and witness, please take a moment to assure that your voice is heard at this important moment in the life of our church.
The Rev. Christopher Olkiewicz
President, Lutheran Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Representatives Network