From the presiding Bishop

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 […]

So now what? - September 28, 2018

This month marks the 501st anniversary of the Reformation. Last year it was all Reformation all the time. It was our year!  News, media and the public paid attention. Hundreds of Reformation-themed events took place. Documentaries were produced and joyful liturgies with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters were held. I have lost track of […]

So now what? - September 28, 2018

This month marks the 501st anniversary of the Reformation. Last year it was all Reformation all the time. It was our year! News, media and the public paid attention. Hundreds of Reformation-themed events took place. Documentaries were produced and joyful liturgies with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters were held. I have lost track of […]

Fear not - August 31, 2018

I’m leaving for my first trip to Holden Village, a retreat center near Chelan, Wash. I’ve heard about this Lutheran Shangri-La for years. I have sung and played the Holden Evening Prayer in many settings. I’m excited. The theme verse for the week I’ll be in residence is “Fear not,” which is part of a […]

We are the branches - August 3, 2018

Is it possible to be Lutheran and an ecumenist? Of course, the answer is yes. The ELCA has continued the work of our predecessor churches—the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, the American Lutheran Church, and the Lutheran Church in America—all of which engaged in dialogues with other denominations. When the ELCA was born, its DNA […]

Serving the neighbor in need - July 6, 2018

Editor’s note: This is a reprint of the June 2017 column from the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. These are politically charged times. This very sentence in the presiding bishop’s column is likely to raise eyebrows. Across this church I’ve heard stories of parishioners disturbed by the Gospel read on Sundays, […]