Board of Directors of the WordAlone Network met for its fall session at Tea, a
community outside Sioux Falls, S. D., a rural but developing area. The following
Sunday, many of the members of the board went out to preach and teach in local
churches, both rural and urban. Two "traveling" board meetings a year are held
away from the Minnesota office, and serve as great opportunities to energize the
churches, chapters and individuals from those areas.
Before going out to share the Word, the directors were confronted with the
reality that there is no "business as usual" for the Network any longer. Though
correspondence continues, the Network News is published, the website updated
with regular articles and announcements, chapter and churches meet locally and
annual events are held, still there seems to be an increased urgency to "get on
Within the Network a general attitude of tiredness seems to be encroaching
because we haven't "fixed it yet." To meet the challenge of energizing
volunteers across the map to engage in a work of witness and proclamation--and
which labor often is criticized and its results are not recognized easily--is a
continuing challenge to the volunteers and staff in leadership roles. Lutheran
Christians still care deeply about the state of the "church" but they seem to
think the institution should have woken up long before now. In light of the
continuing need for future-oriented actions that will help all of us to reflect
theologically and to engage in reform and renewal, the board engaged in the
- Heard reports from the director of the house of studies, Dennis Bielfeldt,
and voted to move forward on the convention directive to establish an accredited
and autonomous house of studies to equip the next generation of pastors, lay
leaders and professors. It is a huge task before us that will not be
accomplished with our present staffing and resources; thus, proposals for moving
all educational efforts under the direction of the house of studies team and
increasing staff were accepted. In addition, the board met with an endowment
planner and is considering fundraising efforts for the long-term endeavor of
establishing a Lutheran confessional house of studies. Plans to offer classes at
one or more of the multiple sites still are looking hopeful for the fall of
2007--though laying groundwork for using some facilities of various institutions
and accreditation procedures are time consuming tasks.
- Learned that if "applied for" ordination by-law exceptions are approved, the
number granted in 2006 would equal the highest number since the passage of
Called to Common Mission, the full communion agreement between the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America and The Episcopal Church. It is noteworthy that the
students would be approved by synods that, historically, have not yet dealt with
the process. A gathering of students at Luther Seminary began meeting on a
regular schedule this fall essentially as a WordAlone chapter. This should help
to increase awareness and help educate confessional students about problems with
the full communion relationship with The Episcopal Church that mandated the
human tradition of the historic episcopacy.
- Discussed a resolution questioning the current agreement with The Episcopal
Church that will be available to offer at synod assemblies in hopes it will be
passed along to the churchwide assembly in August 2007.
- Reviewed other resolutions dealing with the authority of the Word, ministry
standards and representative governance that will be forwarded again in order to
keep such "institutional questions" in front of the voting members.
- Learned that elections for presiding bishop, secretary, church council
members and other committees are being targeted for possible elections or to
provide opportunities for WordAlone members and friends to speak to the voting
members and bring our concerns forward.
- Accepted very hopeful reports of our work with the other reform groups under
the label of Lutheran CORE as the number of educated and concerned Lutherans
increases and the geography expands. Director Mark Chavez's recent move to
Pennsylvania is expected to increase our support.
- Was told efforts to get local churches to share a common confession in order
to associate with one another thus gaining a voice for proclamation as well as
enabling forward movement with our joint mission and ministry remain a challenge
for the steering committee of LC3 (Lutheran Churches of the Common Confession).
Without a catastrophe or other obvious sign of the denomination's serious
weaknesses and troubles, many churches seem to have a "wait and see" attitude.
- Reflected on how we in fact work against ourselves in waking up the ELCA
members to what some in leadership propose. As we diligently head off disastrous
actions one resolution at a time we, in effect, allow the church's members to
believe that a crisis has been alleviated or that things aren't as bad as one
might think. To work within the ELCA for reform and reflection will continue to
carry with it this double effect that makes our task even more difficult.
The fall theological conference is scheduled Nov. 12-14 at Redeemer Lutheran
Church in Fridley, Minn. The conference will consider fundamentals proposed for
the WordAlone Network. We hope that from presentations, discussions and
reflection the conference will produce a basic document for consideration by the
Network at our annual spring convention.
I want to emphasize and remind all of us that coming to terms with what is at
stake and what we are willing to go to the wall for becomes even more important
as we establish a center for theological education. Opposition and controversy
abound across the ELCA and our future-looking endeavor will be viewed by some as
a threat and, thus, the need to be even more clear on who we are, what we are
doing and where we are going.
Going to the wall for the WordAlone Network will require, of course,
remaining at the foot of the Crucified One's cross.
Thanks and blessings,
Jaynan Clark Egland, President