From the presiding Bishop

Our common witness - August 2, 2019

One of the distinct privileges of this call as presiding bishop is seeing the church at work at home and around the world. The Lutheran movement is alive and well, speaking the gospel in a distinctive voice. Sunday after Sunday the good news is proclaimed in accordance with Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. In hundreds […]

We belong to the Truth - July 1, 2019

“Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or “No, No’ ” (Matthew 5:37). When I was a girl, dinner table discussions in our family were lively. We could state our position on an issue, but then we had to be ready to back up our argument with facts. In that pre-Google time, the World Book Encyclopedia […]

Gathering, word, meal and sending - June 12, 2019

Liturgy is important—not each constituent part—but the basic structure of corporate worship: gathering, word, meal and sending. It’s a discipline Lutherans willingly undertake because it helps individuals and the entire community express our connection with other Christians throughout the world and across the ages. When we gather, it’s not simply a group of like-minded individuals. […]

Questions in life - April 26, 2019

The good people at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Living Well Center for Vocation and Purpose invited me to address the school on the topic “Lives Worth Living.” Yikes! This is one of The Questions in life—right up there with “What is the meaning of life?” and “What is true, beautiful and good?” and “Where do socks go […]

All created things - March 29, 2019

God’s entire divine nature is wholly and entirely in all creatures, more deeply, more inwardly, more present than the creature is to itself (Martin Luther). I am formed by the Lutheran movement, so I tend to look for law and gospel, judgment and promise in everything. This quote from Luther is no exception. It does […]

Spiritual and religious - March 1, 2019

Is “Lutheran spirituality” an oxymoron? When we consider Martin Luther and the early reformers, we think of great theologians, prolific writers and musicians. We are well aware of Luther’s earthy language and direct communication. But spirituality? Luther as mystic? Not so much. And yet, Luther was a deeply spiritual person who also cared for the […]

What is God up to? - February 1, 2019

What is to be done? Our congregations are growing older and smaller. At least 40 percent of our congregations have an average weekly worship attendance of 50 or less. ELCA membership decreases by 70,000 people a year, or roughly the loss of a synod per year. Clergy retirements outnumber new candidates for ministry. Financial pressures […]

Happy New Year! - December 28, 2018

Editor’s note: This is a reprint of the January 2017 column from the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Ah, a new year! It opens up before us with infinite possibilities like brand new notebooks at the beginning of the school year or the beginning of football season in Cleveland—everyone has a […]

From cradle to grave - November 30, 2018

Christmas comes at a descending time. The old year is coming to an end, the new year is not yet here. It is too late to accomplish goals set on the previous New Year’s Day, and just enough time to realize that whatever shape or state you are in will be the shape or state […]

In the wilderness - October 26, 2018

In the Hebrew Bible the book of Numbers is called “In the Wilderness.” It starts with great hope. God delivered God’s people from Egypt, from bitter slavery, grinding toil and infanticide. What a delivery! The entire people—ancients, infants and everyone in between—escaped from one of the world’s superpowers, walked dry-shod through the sea and went […]