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—Board of Directors of the WordAlone Network summer meeting

by Jaynan Clark Egland (President, WordAlone Network)

News: July 13, 2005

The board of directors of the WordAlone Network met in the Minnesota Twin Cities recently for their third quarterly meeting of the year. A majority of the time for the two-day meeting was spent on finalizing our plans for a WordAlone presence and voice at the upcoming churchwide assembly in Orlando, Aug. 8-14.

Luther Johnson, the WA synod contact for S.W. Minnesota Synod, appointed earlier by the board to be the floor manager and organizer for the Network in Orlando, updated the board on pre-assembly work already completed. photo of Jaynan Clark EglandHe raised strategy questions relating to renewing worship, new ecumenical agreements, restructuring proposals and governance changes. A contingent of WordAlone individuals who plan to support voting members will be in contact and conversation pre-Orlando. They will be invited to Bible studies and educational forums hosted by WordAlone in Orlando.

Association task force leader Randy Freund and Dennis Bielfeldt, a planner for a Lutheran House of Studies, reported to other board members on the creation of the association of churches, which make a common confession, and the birthing of a Lutheran Theological House of Studies. The board took time for further consideration of these directives from the annual convention of WordAlone last April. These exciting directives from the membership of the Network already have found support and initial membership from seven churches in five states from New Jersey to Texas to Minnesota and New York.

The need for faithful theological study and the gathering together of local churches sharing a common confession seem to be two new areas of work within our three "Rs" of Reform, Renewal and deeper theological Reflection that are capturing the imaginations of the faithful across the country even in areas where the Network has not had a strong presence in the past.

A joint meeting with the board of directors for Solid Rock Lutherans was held on Saturday morning. The boards discussed strategy and upcoming activity for the churchwide assembly in addition they took a look at what has been accomplished thus far in the gathering of churches to form an association. Consideration was given to how Solid Rock Lutherans can work with the Network to encourage the many, diverse renewal movements to consider becoming part of such an association. Plans for the fall theological conference on ecclesiology (who and what are the church) to be held at Brooklyn Park (Minn.) Lutheran Church Nov. 6-8 were taken up. The first meeting of the churches who have signed The Common Confession and subsequently joined the association will be an important and integral part of the fall conference.

Two members of the WA hymnal task force, Gracia Grindal and Luther Johnson, gave an update on the development of the Lutheran Hymnal for Church and Home. The task force is finishing work on the services and deciding on the list of 30 hymns that will be included. They have a web site: which has a blog and some critiques of the Renewing Worship project.

The WordAlone board appointed a committee to review the work of the Theological Advisory Board and to give further consideration to what the future of the advisory board might look like in relationship to the Lutheran House of Studies.

Treasurer Irv Aal brought the financial report to the members of the board revealing that WordAlone is "in the black" but only because expenses have been cut and not because giving has been overly generous. As we have experienced as a movement in past years, we are entering lean months for giving. Knowing that non-profits and churches often experience late spring and summer shortfalls does not help nor diminish the need for funding. With the churchwide assembly now only one month away, the need for funds to cover the expenses to have our staff present and to continue according to plan with our educational forums, materials and DVDs is crucial. Plans to make available guest speakers to address churchwide assembly voting members regarding the unheard voices of the international Lutheran churches and the ex-gay community can only move forward as funds become available.

Please remember that even though vacation time is here for many, the remaining months of 2005 are a time for critical work for WordAlone. As a movement within the ELCA committed to renewal and reform, we need to speak out as a movement in Orlando, whether there are ears to hear or not. We also are determined to move forward with the work you directed us to do at our last convention; to help create an association of churches and begin plans to secure faithful theological study for the future through a Lutheran House of Studies.

Our good Lord has given us faith and vision, may we also have the means to do the work we've been called to.

In Christ,

Jaynan Clark Egland