“Much more that unites us”

At the Oct. 31 prayer service of the joint Catholic-Lutheran commemoration of the Reformation in Sweden’s Lund Cathedral, Pope Francis and Lutheran World Federation General Secretary Martin Junge spoke about the unity in Christ that Lutherans and Catholics have together. There is “much more that unites us than that which separates us,” Junge said. “This is why we are here at this joint commemoration: to rediscover who we are in Christ.”

Full communion leaders offer Advent devotions

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton and bishops from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church have prepared a series of devotions for Advent. “May our prayers united be a modest but hopeful sign of what our churches can do together as we bear witness to the One who first reconciled himself to us,” the leaders said in a joint statement. The devotions are available at elca.org (search for “Advent devotions”).

Whitt named president of Lenoir-Rhyne

Trustees of Lenoir-Rhyne University, Hickory, N.C., announced Oct. 24 that Frederick K. Whitt has been named the school’s 12th president. Whitt comes to Lenoir-Rhyne from Appalachian State University’s Beaver College of Health Sciences in Boone, N.C., for which he served as founding dean. “I have always had great respect for Lenoir-Rhyne,” Whitt said in a statement. “The bedrock principles that are unique to Lenoir-Rhyne are values I enthusiastically embrace and support.”

Starbucks cup: Cue the “War on Christmas”?

Yes, Virginia, there are people brandishing pitchforks because the new Starbucks cup is green and doesn’t have a snowflake. On Nov. 1, the coffee chain rolled out a cup covered with cartoon faces. For some, this was the first salvo in what they see as the company’s “War on Christmas.” But the outrage—primed after last year’s brouhaha over the company’s plain red cup—is premature. Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz indicated the design was a reference to the election, not the coming holiday.

Reformation exhibit highlights art as tool

Martin Luther recognized that images had the power to teach—a powerful form of communication the church could use. Nearly 500 years later, three museums across the United States, in cooperation with four German institutions, are using art once again to communicate the lasting impact of Luther and the Reformation. “Martin Luther: Art and the Reformation” opened at the Minneapolis Institute of Art on Oct. 30 and will run through Jan. 15. Visit new.artsmia.org/luther for more information.

ELCA Youth Gathering announces 2018 theme

The theme of the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering is “This Changes Everything.” Based on Ephesians 2:8, the theme emphasizes grace as a foundational and distinctive piece of the Lutheran faith. The 2018 logo incorporates the coming together of a mosaic to reflect the diverse host city of Houston, as well as the idea that we are a church in which all are imperfect and incomplete, yet each belong in God’s masterpiece. Find out more at elca.org/gathering.

Christ’s reputed tomb unsealed

Researchers investigating the site where Jesus Christ’s body is traditionally believed to have been buried appear to have confirmed that portions of the tomb are still present today, having survived centuries of damage, destruction and reconstruction of the surrounding Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City. By Oct. 28, after researchers had worked for 60 hours, the tomb’s original limestone burial bed was revealed intact, which scientists and historians have long wondered about.

Reader call: Body in worship

This Lent, Living Lutheran will feature the spiritual practices that engage the body in worship. How do you engage your whole self—body, mind and soul—in worship to God at home or in your congregation? Do you do liturgical dance? Practice tai chi? Host a foot-washing ceremony? How about children/youth in your congregation? Send 300 words or less, plus your name, phone number and home congregation, by Dec. 21 to erin.strybis@elca.org for consideration.

Italian quake destroys historic Catholic landmarks

The strongest earthquake to strike Italy in more than three decades claimed no lives but struck at the heart of the country’s vast religious and cultural heritage. The Oct. 30 quake, which measured 6.6 magnitude, felled several significant churches, including the 14th-century Basilica of St. Benedict in the main square of Norcia. “With Norcia destroyed, it is as though the pulsating heart of Europe’s faith and artistic traditions has stopped beating,” Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Vatican body responsible for culture, said.

Kickstarter-backed $1.4 million Bible completed

Bibliotheca, a Kickstarter-funded effort to create a four-volume, single-column Bible, has been completed. The project, which raised $1.4 million from 15,000 supporters, is scheduled for delivery in December. Bibliotheca formats biblical text in the style of a novel, and uses a new revision of the American Standard Version translation. Since the launch of the project, several multi-volume reader’s Bibles have also been printed by major publishers. The campaign was one of Kickstarter’s top 10 most successful in 2014.


“I think the work that was done here can definitely continue to be a model that we look at, as far as how we cross those borders for the Abrahamic faiths or how we engage in the conversations that we have with people of all different religions. I think we’ll start to find what we found here: We have more in common than opposing.”
—Khadijah Islam, Journey Lutheran Church, Holmen, Wis., reflects on “Declaration on the Way,” which outlines 32 statements of agreement between Lutherans and Catholics, during the ELCA’s Oct. 27 webcast.


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