From the presiding Bishop

Midnight stillness - December 2, 2019

On Christmas Eve, there always comes a time when everything is finally still. Once all the preparations and decorations, extra choir rehearsals and Christmas pageants, shopping and holiday parties have been completed, peace descends. For me, that time always came after the 11 p.m. candlelight service. After the congregation went home, after I turned off […]

Season of doubt - November 1, 2019

When serving as a parish pastor, I would sometimes be asked if it was possible to be a faithful Christian and also doubt. Could one be a disciple and also question?  Parishioners would be hesitant to ask for fear that they would face judgment—Divine and mine. Somehow, we’ve gotten it into our heads that doubt […]

We are to be bold - September 27, 2019

This church had a meeting in August. We gathered in Milwaukee for the 2019 Churchwide Assembly. We were filled with anticipation and excitement—what would unfold during the assembly? How would we be inspired by worship and Bible study? How would we be challenged? What new insight into the work of the church would we receive?   […]

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 […]