The board of directors for the WordAlone Network engaged in strategic brainstorming and planning for WordAlone's future at the first quarterly meeting this year on Jan. 18-19 at St. Paul Lutheran Church in New Braunfels, Texas. The launching of our new publishing venture, Sola Publishing (www.solapublishing.org), was identified as one of our highest priorities in order to provide educational materials that are faithful, confessional and affordable. In parallel with this priority is the work of the newly launched Institute for Lutheran Theology.
Board reiterates continuing support
of Lutheran seminarians requesting non-Episcopal ordination...
The other priorities the board identified are: to promote and grow the network with direct contacts with churches and to grow the WA mailing lists; to provide practical plans and strategies for WA members, churches and chapters to be more effective in doing the work of the movement; to build a vocal and effective international coalition of Lutheran churches; and to work even more closely with the other Protestant reform groups.
The board, with several new members elected last spring, and our staff are focused on broadening the witness of WordAlone, increasing membership and establishing longevity through a faithful educational program that will be both user-friendly and cost effective.
In other matters, Irv Aal, treasurer, reported that donors had responded generously in 2007 with their support for WA's ministries and the network ended the year in good financial shape. The strong support from individuals, chapters and churches is much appreciated and is very encouraging. The board adopted a budget for 2008 that supports the priorities named above and the steady growth of the network.
Board members reiterated our continuing priority of supporting Lutheran seminarians in their education and their conscience when making a request for non-episcopal ordination under the 2001 bylaw amendment. The board directed that the new "exceptional" pastors receive a letter of support and that WA continue to promote its Seminary Debt Relief Fund, which helps repay the seminary student loans for the courageous, confessional new pastors.
The board looks forward to the publication this spring of WordAlone's first book, "By What Authority?" The book has over 20 different contributing authors and addresses the crisis now facing the Christian church across the denominations in North America. The question is not one of shrinking denominational membership or declining budgets, but rather an inability to clearly confess that Jesus the Christ is the sole (also soul) authority in all of heaven and earth and for all time and space.
Dr. James Nestingen reported to the board about the reconfiguration of the Theological Advisory Board due to the deaths of some members, resignations and limited resources. He reported that the board is being reconfigured with the intention of meeting in fall 2008 with a smaller, but effective confessional membership.
A plan for responding in a timely manner to the release of the first draft of the ELCA's social statement on sexuality on March 13 was discussed. A commitment was made to constantly remind our readership and membership to participate in the feedback process and to develop user-friendly resources to be made widely available as aids for analyzing the draft statement.
Board members expressed their appreciation to the staff and Pastor Paul Owens in Alpena, Mich., for making available on the web site the new "Daily Devotions with Pastor Paul." The suggestion was made to announce the availability of this faithful resource and try to broaden the readership.
Doug Dillner, a WA board member and also a member of the board of regents for the Institute of Lutheran Theology, reported on the development of the institute. Three new courses are being offered this winter. You can find more information about them at www.instituteoflutherantheology.org
Rev. Scott Grorud, a WA board member and member of the Lutheran CORE steering committee, reported on the work of Lutheran CORE, the coalition for reform of the ELCA. This ministry is done in conjunction with WordAlone and under the administration of our director, Mark Chavez. Organization of networks within synods and election of 2009 churchwide assembly members are the priorities, and is moving forward in a very broad based manner through our local contacts for WordAlone and Lutheran CORE.
Plans for the upcoming annual convention for WordAlone to be held April 13-14 at Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, Minn., were discussed. The theme of the convention is "Defending the Faith," with our keynote speakers being Dr. James Kallas from Agua Dulce, Calif., and Pastor Gary Jepsen from Puyallup, Wash. The board encourages all WordAlone churches and chapters to send multiple representatives to this event in order to educate and excite the Network about our important calling as Lutheran Christians.
The fall theological conference in November will be focused on the theme of the two opposing gospels in the ELCA under the title, "A Different Gospel--Christianity at Risk."
While in New Braunfels, the board experienced the best of Southern hospitality. St. Paul provided an opportunity for board members to meet with church leaders on Jan 18 over dinner and hosted an open meeting on Jan. 19 where members of area churches were able to meet with the board. St. Paul invited me to preach at their Sunday services on Jan. 20 and lead an adult forum. Four other Texas churches in Knippa, Mission Valley, San Antonio and Seguin also hosted our board members and staff to preach and lead forums on Jan. 20. The number of opportunities to tell our story and confess our faith was numerous. We were once again reminded of the importance of holding two quarterly board meetings outside of Minnesota with the hope of expanding the Network and sharing our witness.
The WA board understands the difficulty of our calling to witness inside and outside the denominations and church institutions. The historic and geographic reminder that we were meeting only a few miles from the site of the Alamo was cause for some humorous comments, but also serious consideration. As we "Remember the Alamo" we are reminded of those who chose to fight for what they believed was right and necessary for the future of Texas and the United States. The defenders at the Alamo were overwhelmingly outnumbered and their supplies extremely limited, but they did not quit. Though they paid the ultimate price, their stand inspired others to greater commitment. As we remember the Alamo we must also reflect upon the cross and the Crucified One, who radically redefined what winning and losing look like to the faithful.
Jaynan Clark Egland, president