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Lutheran News Digest

Lutheran Women Today columnist dies:

Respected author and columnist Marjorie “Marj” L. Leegard, of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, died July 12 after a long history of heart disease. She was 89.
Leegard was a columnist for Lutheran Woman Today, the magazine of Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). She wrote the book Give Us This Day and authored a column by the same title in Lutheran Woman Today from 1994 to 2009
A funeral service for Leegard was held July 16 at Richwood Lutheran Church, Detroit Lakes.

Minneapolis Area Synod asks prayers for companion synod:

According to Kris Perry, companion synod coordinator for the Minneapolis Area Synod, cholera has broken out for the second time in a year in the Adamawa State of Nigeria. Last November, more than 25 people of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN) from the Mubi congregation died as a result of a cholera outbreak.
The latest outbreak includes the city of Numan where the LCCN has its headquarters. At least 21 people have died in this latest outbreak. The killer disease is characterized by severe vomiting and acute diarrhea. The best defense against the disease is to provide clean potable water to all of the people.

ELCA asks judge to dismiss  Augsburg Fortress case:

The churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Minnesota June 28, seeking dismissal of all claims against it in a lawsuit filed following termination of a defined benefit compensation retirement plan by Augsburg Fortress Publishers (AFP).
On April 21, former employees of the Minneapolis-based publisher who were covered by the terminated pension plan filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota. Named as defendants were Augsburg Fortress; its president and chief executive officer, chief financial officer and vice president of human resources and organizational development; the ELCA; and current and former members of the publisher’s board of trustees.
About 500 people were affected by the termination of the plan. The lawsuit seeks to recover losses allegedly suffered by the plaintiffs because of what they claim were “breaches of duty” with regard to the termination of the defined benefit pension plan.
The suit also asks the federal district court to declare that the terminated pension plan is not a church plan, but a defined benefit plan regulated by the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
Augsburg Fortress is a separately incorporated entity apart from the ELCA churchwide organization. The publisher has maintained, and continues to maintain, its own retirement benefits for its staff. At the time the lawsuit was filed, the ELCA churchwide organization asserted that “it had no role in the creation, management, funding, or termination of the Augsburg Fortress pension plan.” It also denied all legal claims made against it by the plaintiffs.

ELCA and United Methodists discuss full communion pact:

A joint commission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The United Methodist Church (UMC) held its inaugural meeting July 15. The commission is charged with assisting the two mainline denominations in fostering their new full communion relationship. This is the first such relationship for the 8-million-member UMC and the sixth for the 4.6-million-member ELCA.
“This new relationship of full communion marks a denominational milestone in the ecumenical history of the United Methodist Church,” said the Rev. Stephen J. Sidorak Jr., general secretary, UMC General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns. “We’re really excited about it,” said Sidorak.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, expressed his enthusiasm about engaging in “theology together.” He asked the commission to “be bold” in imagining the denominations’ future mission and ministry.
The 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted a full communion agreement with the UMC and established a joint commission to oversee the relationship. In 2008 the UMC General Conference adopted the same proposal for full communion. At the meeting leaders collaborated on recommendations for the interchangeability of ordained clergy.

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