Northern Illinois District President Dan Gilbert declined an invitation to lead a prayer for the visit of Thuringian President and woman clergy Pastor Kristene Lieberknecht to Concordia University, Chicago last week. We reported our concerns about this Lutheran Laymans League event in an earlier post this month.
We had heard through the grapevine that Bishop Gilbert had declined the offer and so we contacted him and he verified the report. When asked if we could publish this story President Gilbert responded by saying “I am always in favor of reporting the truth.”
Even though this would not have been unionism since there was no worship service involved, President Gilbert just thought it best that he not give the opening prayer so as not to give the wrong impression.
President Gilbert has always been respectful of the Northern Illinois Confessional Lutherans and has spent hours with representatives of that group over the year listening to concerns and in many cases taking action. There are still important disagreements but the relationship has always been one of mutual respect. The spirit of President Harrison’s Koinonia project is alive and well in the NID.
Bishop Gilbert’s declination to pray is certainly a far cry from, and hopefully a sign of a step forward compared to the eagerness of Bishop David Behnke, from the Atlantic District, who a decade ago, openly prayed in a joint worship service and civic event in New York City in remembrance of the 9-11 victims.