Elife May 22

Adopted by the ELCA Church Council

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May 2022
Dear partners,

Greetings of peace and prayers for continued health.

A week ago, our Muslim neighbors ended the holy month of Ramadan with the joyous celebration of Eid al-Fitr. For much of April, Christians and Muslims journeyed through their respective periods of fasting, prayer, and reflection, as Lent and Ramadan coincided. During this holy time of confluence between Christians and Muslims, The ELCA Church Council unanimously adopted “A Declaration of the ELCA to the Muslim Community” affirming our friendship and solidarity with Muslims, nurtured over time through meaningful cooperation, dialogue, and common action.

This latest declaration stands alongside “A Declaration of the ELCA to the Jewish Community” and as a concrete expression of “A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment.” More than a corpus of statements, these declarations remind us of who we are in relationship to our neighbors, and who we strive to be. Grounded in real relationships, they are more than aspirational; grounded in reality, they reflect commitments not yet fully realized. Within the next month, new resources will be published to support these inter-religious efforts, including a preaching guide that affirms our church’s commitments to Jewish relations and a set of pastoral guidelines for ministry in a multi-religious world.

In the northern hemisphere, we are finally experiencing the fullness of spring — a fitting metaphor for our church’s inter-religious relations. What a vibrant time to be a church that embraces the unique joy encountering, knowing, and loving our neighbors of other religions and worldviews.

In hope,

Kathryn Lohre
Kathryn M. Lohre
Executive, Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations & Theological Discernment

The 2022 ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations Annual Staff Report is now available for download at elca.org.

Elife Banner Inter-Religious Relations
Report of the Fifth Phase of the Lutheran-Roman Catholic International Commission on Unity

The Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity have issued a joint press release announcing the online publication of “Baptism and Growth in Communion,” the report of the Fifth Phase of the Lutheran–Roman Catholic Commission on Unity. The report includes six commitments that serve as a road map for ongoing dialogue and cooperation between Lutherans and Catholics. You can download a copy at lutheranworld.org.
World Council of Churches Launches 2022– EAPPI Easter Initiative for Palestine and Israel

The World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel has developed its 2022 Easter initiative to connect the sacredness of Jerusalem with what is sacred to human beings: home, worship, family, identity, solidarity, and human life and dignity. Learn more about this initiative and download its resources at oikoumene.org.
Upcoming Ecumenical Events:

55th Strasbourg Seminar Registration Open Through May 31

The Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg will continue with an online format for its 2022 summer seminar, “Separately United — Ecumenism in the Digital Space,” July 4-8. Registration costs 150 euros (approximately $170 USD) and is open through May 31. You can learn more by visiting the seminar’s website.

World Council of Churches Assembles in Germany

The 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches will take place Aug. 21 to Sept. 8 in Karlsruhe, Germany, under the theme, “Christ’s Love Moves the World to Reconciliation and Unity.” Learn more at the assembly webpage on oikoumene.org. Thematic and liturgical Bible studies are available for prayerful preparation.

Elife Banner Inter-Religious Relations
“A Declaration of the ELCA to the Muslim Community” Adopted

On March 31 the ELCA Church Council adopted “A Declaration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to the Muslim Community.” This declaration reaffirms the ELCA’s love and respect for our Muslim neighbors and reflects our church’s inter-religious commitment to work together in our shared communities for the common good. Mark Swanson, chair of the ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Muslim Relations, recently introduced the document on the EIR Perspectives blog.
Countering Anti-Judaism and Anti-Semitism

The Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community at St. Olaf College recently held its spring symposium, “Luther’s Legacy of Anti-Judaism and Contemporary Jewish-Lutheran Relations.” The conversation featured Rabbi Ryan Dulkin, a visiting assistant professor of religion at St. Olaf, and Kathryn Lohre, Executive for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations and Theological Discernment for the ELCA and delved into the impacts of Martin Luther’s anti-Judaism and explored contemporary Jewish-Lutheran relations.

Forthcoming ELCA Inter-religious Resources

The ELCA will soon publish a guide titled “Preaching and Teaching With Love and Respect for the Jewish People,” which will assist preachers in navigating difficult texts. Additionally, the ELCA will soon publish “Pastoral Guidelines for Ministries in a Multi-Religious religious World,” which will address various aspects related to worship and pastoral care in multi-religious settings. Look for these in the coming months on elca.org.
Confluence of Religious Holy Seasons

For the first time in over three decades, we witnessed a confluence of major holy days and seasons from many of the world’s most prominent religions. This unusual convergence offered us an opportunity to connect faith traditions and remember our interconnectedness as humans.

Kristen Opalinski, Manager for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations for the ELCA, reflected on this in a recent contribution to the EIR Perspectives blog.

Various organizations lifted up this time as a special moment for unity, including Shoulder to Shoulder. The Chicago Sun-Times published an op-ed on the need for inter-religious learning, written by Sara Trumm, Director of A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and Hind Makki, an author and Educator with the Institute for Social Policy & Understanding in Chicago.
Welcoming the Stranger, Living as Neighbors

On April 8, the Rev. Anne Burghardt, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, joined Waseem Ahmad, Chief Executive Officer of Islamic Relief Worldwide, and Mark Hetfield, President of the international Jewish humanitarian agency HIAS, to discuss the inspiration behind a joint pledge to increase interfaith cooperation, which arose from the Global Refugee Forum in 2019. The conversation was a precursor to the international conference their organizations will co-host in Geneva on June 20 and 21, bringing together grassroots practitioners of faith-sensitive refugee protection and response. Read more about the webinar at lutheranworld.org.

Interfaith Response to the Conflict in Ukraine

A historic visit of religious leaders to refugee camps in the city of Chernivtsi, Ukraine, took place April 12. This was the first time an interfaith delegation undertook a mission of friendship and solidarity by entering a nation at war. You can watch a recording of the event at FaithInUnkraine.com.

On Feb. 24, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and other U.S. religious leaders united to call for peace for Ukraine. In their statement they urged those perpetrating the violence to turn to the way of peace through dialogue and for their congregations and communities to unite in prayers for peace. The full statement can be read at elca.org.
Subscribe to the Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Perspectives blog today and let us know if there are events, projects or ministries that would make for a good story to share — email EIRinfo@elca.org.

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