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November Update

From Kathryn Lohre and Kathryn Johnson

DOTW Follow-Up/500th Synod Events

Kathryn J has been participating in several events concerning ecumenical aspects of the 500th Reformation anniversary.

On Sunday, she preached for a service at St. Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines, Iowa, which was based on the Common Prayer used at Lund but adapted to the local context in music, prayer, and participation. Both ELCA Bishop Michael Burk (Southeast Iowa Synod) and Catholic Bishop Richard Pates (Diocese of Des Moines) were present, and our own “Pastor Chris” had a key role in presiding and planning.

In September Kathryn spoke to the Theological Conference of the Rocky Mountain Synod, and in October was in Michigan for leadership retreat of the regional LARC group, whose worship also included a modification of the Lund liturgy.

In the works are plans for a study guide for The Declaration on the Way for local use and a brief liturgical resource to help pastors prepare, practically and theologically, for welcoming with a blessing those worshippers – including Roman Catholics following the guidelines of their church – who do not receive the elements.

Pluralism Project 25th Anniversary

In late September, the Pluralism Project at Harvard University celebrated its 25th anniversary. Founded in 1991 by Prof. Diana L. Eck, the Pluralism Project is the premier research organization on the changing religious landscape in the United States. Kathryn Lohre, who served on the staff of the Pluralism Project between 2000 and 2011, the last five years as assistant director, participated in the public conference and spoke on a panel about religious pluralism and the promise of peacebuilding. Her remarks focused on Lutheran-Muslim relations in an era of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry. She was also present for a series of advisory council meetings before and after the event. You will find many excellent educational and dialogue resources at

Four-Way Meeting

In late September, the heads of churches and staff of the Anglican Church of Canada, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, The Episcopal Church, and the ELCA had their annual meeting at the Lutheran Center. Updates from the churches were shared – including the significant events of the ACC General Synod and the ELCA Churchwide Assembly. Bishop Curry was welcome to the table for the first time. The group finalized the 2016 Advent Devotions, focused on the LWF 2017 theme,” Liberated by God’s Grace,” and subthemes. These were made available online on October 31 and are available at:

Bishop Eaton’s Webcast

Bishop Eaton’s webcast on October 27 was devoted to ecumenical witness and the Reformation anniversary. Joining the Bishop for the discussion were Martin Marty; Sr. Susan Wood, a Catholic member of the DotW task force who was with us for the Churchwide Assembly; and Khadijah Islam, a college student and voting member of the CWA who had spoken memorably at the hearings. There were also short video clips from the CWA and from three of the ecumenical guests present for the vote on the Declaration, who spoke about its ecumenical significance. For the first time for one of these webcasts, Facebook was used as the platform, and live questions from 3 congregations were received as well as those from social media. Click here to watch the recorded webcast.

Joint Ecumenical Commemoration of the Reformation in Sweden, October 31

The staff of the Lutheran Center were invited to participate in a viewing party of the live-stream. Colleagues from across the units and offices of the church gathered together to experience and reflect upon the remarkable events which took place.

The day’s events included first a Common Prayer in Lund Cathedral, led by Pope Francis and LWF President Munib Younan and General Secretary Martin Junge; the procession was led by a Salvadorean cross created for the occasion and involved women and men from every continent and many generations. Bishop Eaton and LWF treasurer Christina Jackson-Skelton represented the ELCA, and Dr. Dirk Lange from Luther Seminary had ably shaped the liturgy. Also present because of former LWF roles were Presiding Bishop Emeritus Mark Hanson and Kathryn J. Later an event in Malmö sports arena included commitment to common work for the suffering and included music and testimonies around a large illuminated floor cross; Rocky and Beverly Piro were among the ELCA participants in this event.

Videos are available at; you might especially enjoy the press conference, which includes discussions of DotW and Eucharistic hospitality:

Engaging Others, Knowing Ourselves Update

The final report for the Peeler Grant was submitted in October. This grant, from the NC Synod, supported the publication of the case studies book, Engaging Others, Knowing Ourselves, and has provided ongoing support for distribution efforts. With the remaining funds of the grant, we were able to purchase a number of additional copies. We will be able to provide a complimentary copy to each LEIRN member at the 2017 National Workshop on Christian Unity. As you know, Bishop Eaton invited the church into conversation about our inter-religious calling and commitments in her remarks at the Churchwide Assembly. This book was lifted up as a key resource. Now is the time to contact your synod assembly planning teams to offer your support for possible workshops. You will find the workshop templates here: Staff are also available to support the utilization of this resource.

Christian Churches Together

CCT’s annual convocation in 2017 will be held in Anaheim, California, January 31 – February 3. The theme will be “500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation: Signs of Hope & What Divides Us Today.” Racial justice and Lutheran-Catholic relations will be two foci. The Declaration on the Way will be discussed in plenary. Bishop Eaton will be present, along with Bishop Suzanne Dillahunt who serves on the Steering Committee, and staff. LEIRN representatives are welcome to participate. For more information see:

Formula of Agreement

Ecumenical Officers and worship staff of the Formula of Agreement churches have begun planning for a worship service in celebration of the 20th anniversary, to be held in Cleveland, Ohio on the afternoon of March 26. Heads of communion, ecumenical officers, local judicatory leaders, and local clergy and lay leaders will participate. This will be held in conjunction with a heads of communion meeting the next day, which will explore the next chapter of our life together as full communion partners.

Churches Uniting in Christ

In October, the Coordinating Council of Churches Uniting in Christ met in Dallas, Texas at Perkins School of Theology. The Council issued a statement of support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The majority of the meeting was spent planning for a national worship service of recognition of ministries that will be held on the evening of June 4 in Dallas. Heads of communion, ecumenical officers, local judicatory leaders, and local clergy and lay leaders will participate. This service is one of the significant mandates of the CUIC plenary held in January 2016. A public forum on race relations will be held on June 3, along with a pulpit exchange between local clergy and national CUIC leadership on the morning of June 4. If you are interested in more information contact Kathryn L.

Board Highlights

  • Several board members are currently researching options for a guide to Reformation-related travel that would help travelers to reflect on their experiences in the context of the modern ecumenical movement.
  • An update of the LEIRN handbook and governing documents is underway and will include the addition of sample job descriptions showing various possibilities for configuring the work of a LEIRN representative.
  • A new process for maintaining the LEIRN roster is being considered. If you have updated contact information to share, please send it to LEIRN Secretary, Tim Philabaum at
  • Save the dates for the National Workshop on Christian Unity, May 1-4, in Minneapolis. Registration information will be available at soon.
  • The next meeting of the board will be December 15.


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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…