The new year provides an opportunity to look into the future as well as consider the past.

Let’s start with 2015.

For 21 years, Richard Bansemer crafted the crossword puzzle that appeared in The Lutheran. When he started with the January 1995 issue, the magazine noted wryly that “when he’s not creating crosswords, Richard Bansemer is bishop of the ELCA Virginia Synod.” He retired from that day job in 1999 but continued cranking out the puzzles through last month. Untold thousands were challenged as well as entertained by his work, to which the magazine staff gives heartfelt thanks to this good servant of the church. Filling his spot starting this month (page 47) is Andrea Pohlmann Kulik, manager of editorial services at the magazine.

The news from 2015 carrying over into 2016 is lead columnist Peter A. Marty agreeing to continue writing for The Lutheran for an additional six months. Marty took over the position in July 2010. He will conclude his “A lexicon of faith” column with the June issue, ending a six-year run of extraordinary columns. It has been a privilege for this magazine to publish his work.

We’ve also settled in on our cover stories for this year, starting this month with cleaning out the congregational closet for the new year and moving in new directions (page 16). That will be followed in February with reports from congregations where multiculturalism and diversity are thriving and in March with readers sharing stories of how they were — or weren’t — welcomed at church.

Then comes April, an appreciation for the gift of water; May, a celebration of faith and its connections in our workplaces; June, religion as a way to have sustained happiness throughout life; July, a look at the global Lutheran community; August, community organizing as mission; September, coverage of the 2016 Churchwide Assembly to be held Aug. 8-13 in New Orleans; October, civil discourse during election campaigns; November, an examination of hunger as a result of inequality and not scarcity; December, worship in nontraditional ways and/or places. And for good measure, the January 2017 issue will lead with an acknowledgment of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and a look at whether the ELCA is still a reforming church.

Finally, this marks the 29th year of publication of The Lutheran. In various forms the magazine has been around since 1831 through some 40 publications of Lutheran denominations that merged over the years to become in 1988 the ELCA. For 185 years a magazine has been an integral part of Lutheranism in America. May that continue.

Daniel J. Lehmann

I am a lifelong Lutheran with decades of experience in secular journalism. Like many of you, I’m interested in the theological and historical roots of our faith and how that plays out in the contemporary world. I want to know what our church members and leaders are thinking, what other Lutherans are doing, how religion in general influences and is impacted by culture.
My favorite reading materials are newspapers, specialty magazines and non-fiction. I work hard, but never skip vacations in order to regroup.
I’ve been blessed with a spouse of 40 years, two children and seven grandchildren. My church is a focal point of life in Chicago. I answer my own phone, and respond to e-mail and letters (but usually not spleen-venting tirades).
And I'm a fan of the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks and Bulls, as well as the Art Institute, Field Museum, the lakefront and Millennium Park. Chicago's my kind of town.

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