Case Studies

Engaging Others, Knowing Ourselves: A Lutheran Calling in a Multi-Religious World

Lutheran University Press, 2016

A Resource for 2016 Synod Assembly Workshops and Beyond

Engaging Others, Knowing Ourselves:                       A Lutheran Calling in a Multi-Religious WorldWe live and work in an increasingly multi-ethnic and interreligious context. In our daily encounter with diversity, what are the theological and practical challenges we face? What from our Lutheran tradition is instructive for understanding our inter-religious calling and living out our commitments? In short, what does it mean to be Lutheran in a multi-religious world?

In late 2012, the ELCA Consultative Panels on Lutheran-Jewish and Lutheran-Muslim Relations undertook an inter-religious case studies project to explore these questions. A call for submissions went out inviting real-life cases of inter-religious engagement in ELCA ministry contexts. Over 50 case studies were received and woven together with historical analysis, practical tips, and theological reflection, culminating in a book project published by Lutheran University Press in 2016.

In 2016 and beyond, as we engage in the ongoing Reformation, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton is inviting the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to participate in an ongoing conversation about our church’s inter-religious calling and commitments. The publication, Engaging Others, Knowing Ourselves: A Lutheran Calling in a Multi-Religious World, is provided as a resource. (Please click here to download the brochure.)

Books can be ordered online:

ELCA leaders are encouraged to consider using this book in various educational settings (such as synod assemblies, convocations, theological conferences, and rostered and lay leader gatherings) in 2016 and beyond. To assist with this, two adaptable Powerpoint workshop templates are available for download.

One provides an introduction to the book, including its background, content, and ideas for engaging with the text in a variety of settings. This will be a helpful tool for leaders of workshops where groups are being introduced to the resource as they consider possible use in their ministry settings.

    Engaging Others Knowing Ourselves - Template to Introduce Book
    Powerpoint Powerpoint

The other provides an in-depth review of the content and discussion questions for each chapter. This will be a helpful tool for groups that are reading the book together. Along with the specific recommendations on pp. 180-185, “Ways to Use this Book,” this second template can be used to develop a thematic and/or multi-session approach.

    Engaging Others Knowing Ourselves - Template for Book Groups
    Powerpoint Powerpoint

There are individuals who are prepared to provide leadership, or assistance to you. You are welcome to contact the ecumenical and inter-religious staff of the churchwide organization by phone at 773-380-2611 or

You are also welcome to contact your synod’s Lutheran Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Representative. For contact information check the online directory at

Thank you to all across this church who have contributed to this project by submitting case studies, by providing input, and by serving as authors and editors.

Book Outline

Engaging Others, Knowing Ourselves: A Lutheran Calling in a Multi-Religious World

Foreword: Elizabeth Eaton

Preface: Esther Menn and Peg Schultz-Akerson

Introduction: Darrell Jodock

Chapter 1: Mark Swanson | New Realities, New Thinking Since 1990

Chapter 2: Carol Schersten LaHurd | Guidelines for Interacting in the Real World

Chapter 3: Jonathan Brockopp | Exploring the Uncomfortable Questions: The Experience of Inter-Religious Work

Chapter 4: J. Paul Rajashekar | Our God and Their God: A Relational Theology of Religious Plurality

Conclusion: Darrell Jodock

This book invites us all into conversation by challenging us to reflect on our past, learn from our present, and en-vision the future to which God is calling us. The heart of the book is the real-life case studies of inter-religious relations unfolding in a variety of ELCA ministry contexts. They encourage us to understand that our questions, doubts, and failures are as important as our answers, convictions, and successes. They challenge us to embrace that while there are a variety of responses to religious plurality, our common response is rooted in our Lutheran vocation – our response to God’s love in Jesus Christ.

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton, Foreword