Let's open with a look at this month's letters to the editor (page 48). The volume of letters this past month was particularly large, at least twice the usual. And it was overwhelmingly critical of the magazine and/or the ELCA.
Most were constructive or heartfelt, expressing a view that needs to be heard. A small number were rants, but those rarely get published (instead, the "best" end up posted on the walls of my cubicle as conversation pieces with visitors).
The staff and magazine contributors do try to get stories straight and pre-sent them in an unbiased way. We don't always succeed, and readers tell us about it. We publish that criticism, as is our charge, in hopes of giving expression to the diverse views held by ELCA members. And pages of letters such as the ones in this issue give the editors even more incentive to tackle upcoming articles in hope of retaining readers' trust.
So on tap through 2013 and into 2014 are a range of topics for our cover stories (subject to change due to breaking news or other events). They include a list of favorite hymns supplied by readers (May); an overview of food issues (June); the connection between environmental urgency/action and spiritual disciplines (July); we've come this far by faith — a focus on the 25th anniversary of the ELCA (August); coverage of the Churchwide Assembly (September); Lutherans and tolerance in light of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation (October); how church-based community organizing resets our understanding of theology and doctrine (November); addressing biblical illiteracy (December); serving congregation members vs. the needs of the larger community (January); and implications of the looming justice for women social statement (February).
Unrelatedly, we bid farewell to columnist Walter Wangerin Jr. (page 14) with this issue. Wangerin was The Lutheran's regular columnist from the first issue in January 1988 upon the creation of the ELCA through September 2000. He returned on a quarterly basis in September 2007, lending his significant byline in an effort to help bolster the circulation of "his" magazine. His loyalty to and advocacy for the magazine never flagged over the decades.
Last November he wrote to convey his decision. He said "my own projects flow as freely as they ever have before. Simplicity will serve them best. It has been a good, long run." And, always a true churchman, he concluded, "If I can be of some other service for The Lutheran ... remember me, and I will answer."
Our heads knew this day would come but not our hearts. The magazine owes Walt so much and will be the less without his thoughts and words. Yet all things come to an end. So it is with "Between us." Go in peace, dear friend of the magazine, and many thanks.
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© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers