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An Invitation to the Lutheran Identities Study Process from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

Dear friends in Christ,

Grace and peace to you during this season of Lent. It is a time when we, as Christians, reflect on our life together in Christ and the ways in which our identity in Christ is reflected in the world. Being able to articulate that identity can help guide us to a better understanding of ourselves and each other as God continues to call us to respond to the needs of the world.

There are many ways to reflect on our identity as Christians and Lutherans, one of which is by engaging each other across our global Lutheran family. As part of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), we seek to contribute our North American Lutheran perspectives to the larger Lutheran tapestry, made up of 77 million members across 99 countries! And like the ELCA, the LWF has a rich history of theological study processes that can help us better understand ourselves and what it means to be church.

In 2019, the LWF launched a study process to explore the ways our global Lutheran identities are lived out through biblical interpretation, worship and the work of justice, peace and reconciliation. As a member of the LWF, the ELCA is taking part in this unique study process in a number of ways as we examine our Lutheran identity in our own context here in North America. We hope this process will allow us to experience the diverse ways our Lutheran tradition is being lived out. This is an opportunity to discern the ways in which we, in our own contexts, express law and gospel, faith and works, nature and grace, justification and sanctification, freedom and vocation – all parts of our common theological identity.

This Lent, I invite you to reflect on your Christian and Lutheran identities by participating in the Global Survey on Being Lutheran/Encuesta Mundial Sobre lo Que Significa Ser Luteran. We also ask that you invite others in your churches to participate. The survey will be open through March 31, and responses gathered will help to shape the 13th LWF Assembly in 2023.

In addition, between now and June you are invited to take part in a larger conversation that will transpire across the LWF communion. The LWF has produced a discussion guide titled We Believe in the Holy Spirit: Welcome to a Global Conversation on Being Lutheran/Creemos en el Espíritu Santo: Bienvenido/a a una Encuesta Mundial Sobre lo Que Significa Ser Luterano/a. This guide will help lead your congregation’s Christian education and/or youth group on a journey of mutual discovery and learning.

Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences. They will contribute to furthering our understanding of what being Lutheran means in this time and place as we continue to journey together in Christ through these next 500 years of reformation.

With peace and gratitude,

Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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