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'A lot has been happening'

by Jaynan Clark Egland (President, WordAlone Network)

May 9, 2003

[Editor’s note: This is an edited version of Egland’s report to the April WordAlone convention April 25-26 in Roseville, Minn.]

I have been given time to report on what our Network’s been up to. Much has been accomplished!

Or—what’s been accomplished? A lot has been happening! Or—is anything happening? It depends on whom you are talking with or listening to.

The Network and my second finger have a lot in common.

I crushed the joint of my second finger way back on the 31st of January. Since then it’s been splinted, cut up and had four pieces of metal inserted in it from every direction. Months of not being free to move—stiff, rigid, held in place—not free. It will take a long time after the metal is removed before it will be able to function.

The Network is an ever expanding number of Lutheran believers—members of congregations and chapters—all of whom have experienced being splintered, pinned, unable to move and having to function within an ever increasingly rigid institutional church. Once freed, it will take a long time and lots of exercise and effort for it to function fully again.

The WordAlone Network is your community—your gathering place to celebrate your freedom in Jesus Christ.

WordAlone’s mission is: “We are a grassroots network of individuals and congregations committed to the authority of the Word as manifested in Jesus the Christ, advocating reform and renewal of the church, witnessing to the authority of the Word and working for representative governance, theological integrity and freedom from a mandated historic episcopate.”

The Network is not two full-time and three part-time employees in an office in Minnesota. The Network is not 12 members of a board of directors.

The WordAlone Network is you. That is not the lip service from an institutional church that allows no representation. This is the reality of who we are. We are congregations, we are chapters and we are individuals in need of renewal.

We are in a constant state of Renewal:

  • We are a gathering of senior pastors of vibrant, missional congregations working to expand the network one congregation at a time.
  • We are a lay leaders’ task force developing our strategic long-range plan.
  • We are an educational task force producing educational materials and DVD’s to address the wider church.
  • We are a marriage and family task force struggling with the issues of marriage and sexuality, preparing materials and engaging folks in debate.
  • We are emerging task forces concerned with:
    • Lutheran/Roman Catholic dialogue
    • stewardship and budget of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
    • call and candidacy processes
  • We are the drafters of a new—soon to be available—pamphlet, “The Freedom of the Call Committee.”
  • We are members of the national Association for Church Renewal (ACR) working together with other renewal groups from other mainline denominations.

We are the Reformed ones – in a constant state of Reform:

  • We are nine Regional Coordinators across the nation.
  • We are the 43 synod political organizers and coordinators with the goal of having one in all 65 ELCA synods.
  • We are a constitutional task force—developing and producing resolutions to introduce significant reform of the structure of our church.
  • We are those prayerfully engaged in efforts to elect a bishop free from an imaginary historic episcopate and free for reforming mission.
  • We are waukeetalkee, an e-mail list for those elected to attend the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee in August.
  • We are those who will gather at the synod and churchwide assemblies to do not the “business of the church” but to introduce reform on every floor.
  • We, as reformers, are engaged in on-going conversation with other Lutheran agencies, with hope for future, strategic alliances and partnerships.
  • We, as reformers, brought three requests to a meeting with the presiding bishop—inviting him to speak here and address the Network, asking for the information on the voting members to the churchwide assembly and requesting permission to display materials at the churchwide assembly. The answers? No. No. No.

We press on as those who Reflect theologically—in a constant state of Reflection:

  • We are the international theological advisory board, the finest theologians from across the U.S., Europe and Africa—those who produced the “Admonition for the Sake of the True Peace and Unity of the Church” (and the accompanying documents). It is now translated into German and distributed widely across the global church. We pursue more and more support and signatures.
  • We are one of two groups that specifically endorsed the Biblical and theological conference dealing with sexuality held in Kansas City last October.
  • We gather for two major events a year to continue our education and our growth in Christ.

We are the WordAlone Network—working together for Renewal, Reform and deeper theological Reflection within the ELCA—and throughout the Lutheran confessional church.

We are finally in the black in these fragile economic times.

But we are lighthouses within our communities—introducing the world to the Light of the World—one person at a time!

This is renewal. This is reform. This is worthy of our reflection.

Working. Working. Working. [moving her hand and splinted finger as she was speaking]

Finally free to do all this and more . . .

We are Free—to Be!