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Sermon at Common Prayer

Below is the sermon preached by Dr. Kathryn Johnson, Director for ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations, at a common prayer service in Des Moines, Iowa on November 6, 2016 to inaugurate the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

This is truly a remarkable day!
It’s a time for thanksgiving, repentance, commitment and hope. We gather here amid so much that is familiar: well-loved hymns, a well-known text, prayers for one another and for the world, the greeting of peace. We know how to be with one another on such occasions, for over the course of our lifetimes most of us have had many opportunities for such common prayer for Christian unity. But today is distinctive; today is surprising. Today offers to us a strong sense of hope and new beginning, and it calls on us not to miss taking the next steps toward the doors cracking open before us.

We see the distinctiveness at once when we ask why we are here today: not during Week of Prayer for Christian Unity or on Pentecost or another of the festivals of the Church, but on this unconvincingly Novemberish day in 2016. We are here today because soon it will be 2017, the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of the Lutheran movement, when Martin Luther famously posted 95 provocative theses for discussion in Wittenberg, Germany – and since that posting was on All Saints’ Eve, October 31, the commemoration year began last Monday and will run until next October. And what a beginning that was! Continue reading . . .


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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…