A compilation of essays and comments by concerned pastors, theologians and laypersons, challenging denominations who are denying Christ’s resurrection, ‘demythologizing’ Scripture, blessing same-sex relationships, ordaining non-celibate homosexuals.
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Change is on the scene for the WordAlone Network and the Board of Directors approved and embraced the proposed changes to move confidently forward at their quarterly meeting in Tempe, Ariz. on Jan. 20-21.
Mark Chavez, our Director, will relocate this summer to central Pennsylvania in the middle of the other significant concentration of ELCA churches to establish a WordAlone office in the East. Activity for WordAlone has steadily increased in the East, and many existing reform groups there are now working with WordAlone in the national coalition, Lutheran CoRe (Lutheran Coalition for Reform), consistent with WordAlone’s Reform “R.” Closer contact and investment in the continuing progress of WordAlone and the coalition warrants staff being present in the East.
This is an exciting, futuristic plan for eastern Lutherans wanting to engage in much needed reform, renewal and theological reflection, and it also opens up new possibilities for progress with WordAlone’s renewal “R.” Pastor Randy Freund, serving Faith Lutheran Church in Hutchinson, Minn., and chairing the steering committee for Lutheran Churches of The Common Confession, will begin working part-time for the Network out of the New Brighton office. Marsha Schmit, on the staff at Faith in Hutchinson will also work part-time in support of our financial administrator in New Brighton, Anne Gleason. The New Brighton office will continue to be the administrative hub for the movement.
I will continue to work as the President from my home office in Spokane, Wash. In addition, Russ Dietz in San Jose, Calif., our synod point of contact for the Sierra Pacific synod and a key member of our churchwide assembly team in Orlando last summer, has volunteered to be the national coordinator for our synod points of contact. He will be working closely with Mark Chavez in support of Lutheran CoRe.
With these changes in staffing, WordAlone will soon be present in the West, Midwest and East.
These changes are a response to increased demands upon the WordAlone Network and an acknowledgment that we have continued with basically the same staff and budget for our first six years of existence. We are committed to exercise sound fiduciary responsibility and to keep the ministry of WordAlone big but the institutional base small. However, we have also heard the feedback from our volunteers and staff that more support is needed. The approved changes will only increase the budget slightly but hopefully improve our “positioning” and efficiency greatly.
There is also progress on WordAlone’s third “R,” Reflect. The establishment of a Lutheran Theological House of Studies, under Dennis Bielfeldt’s direction, is proceeding at an accelerated pace. Randy Freund will also devote time in support of this project. When more details can be shared, it will surely capture the imagination and attention of many. Those longing for sound theological study grounded in the Word of God and existing under the Word’s authority will not be disappointed. An update on this most exciting“mission” of WordAlone will be presented at the upcoming annual convention, April 30 - May 2 at Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, Minn. The theme is “Pulpit, Pews, Parents” - teaching the Christian faith in the local church to believers of all generations. The keynote presenter will be Dr. Harry Wendt, founder and President of Crossways International.
The board also approved the request from the WordAlone Hymnal Task Force to become a new independent, non-profit organization. The fine and faithful work of the task force was acknowledged and commended by the board. The task force’s desire to broaden its market and product are convincing arguments to branch out independently, but to remain closely related with the Network. The new hymnal organization’s participation in WordAlone convention worship services and its regular updates in the Network News and website are welcomed and anticipated by all.
With so much change going on across the “church” generally, and within the WordAlone Network specifically, be assured that our core values are not changing nor will they change. The Network’s mission is to be a strong voice and faithful movement committed to live under the authority of the Word of God, witnessing to Him alone and working for renewal, reform and deeper theological reflection within the ELCA.
Jaynan Clark, President, WordAlone Network