Technical Issues with Subscriptions

Just this week I migrated my blog from Typepad to WordPress. As I am a technical novice, this tested my abilities on such things. However, it seems to have gone alright, though there are some broken links on some images from old postings.

On my old Typepad blog, I posted yesterday that the subscriptions – RSS feed and email – from my old blog would no longer work, and that folks who wanted to keep subscribed to my blog would have to re-subscribe using the WordPress tools. However, I think I was wrong. I believe that I have configured the old subscription tools (RSS and email via Feedburner) so that the old subscriptions will continue to work on my new blog platform. So, for the few of you who may have signed up using the WordPress subscription tools, I believe the Feedburner tools I have been using for years will still work.

Thanks for bearing with me.


The Chief Senior Technical Department Staff at The Lutheran Zephyr

Be True To Your School

It is the end of the fiscal year for most institutions of higher learning, including many (if not all) of our Lutheran seminaries. I encourage you to make a fiscal year-end gift to one of our seminaries – your alma mater, the seminary closest to you, a seminary whose programming you particularly support, or the one whose name you pull out of a hat. Our schools can use our support so that they can continue to equip faithful leaders for ministry in Christ’s church.

Please make a gift – $5 or $50 or $250 or more. Any amount helps them in their good and blessed work, and sends a signal that they are not alone in this work. In addition to any one-time gift, please consider a repeating, monthly gift. My wife and I give monthly to our seminary – The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia – through Thrivent’s Simply Giving program, and we are glad to offer our alma mater our continuing support for their good and wonderful work.

See below for a listing of our ELCA seminaries. Click on the school’s name to go directly to their online giving site. (Some links take you directly to their gift transaction page; other links require an extra click to arrive at their gift transaction page.)

The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg

Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary

Trinity Lutheran Seminary

Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

Wartburg Theological Seminary

Luther Seminary

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

Under Construction

My blog is currently under construction. We’re moving shop from Typepad to WordPress, and as the learning curve is steep and the available time is limited, this might take a few days.

Thanks for dropping by. This place may look a lot snazzier in about a week. Let’s hope. 😉

About these Sermons

I’m a preacher, among other things.  And so I post my sermons here, at The Lutheran Zephyr: Sermons.

How long have you been preaching?
I’ve preached sporadically since the late 1990s, when I entered seminary.  Since December 2008 I’ve been preaching every other week as an Associate Pastor.  I’ve lost many of my earliest sermons – a mixed blessing, for sure – but any complete sermons that I have found and all future sermons will be posted here.

What’s up with the weird layout of your sermon manuscripts?
I write my sermons with a loose sentence structure, with indentations and breaks, building upon phrases and thoughts rather than carefully-crafted, grammatically-correct sentences appropriate for publishing.  I find that writing in this loose sentence structure – rather than in a paragraph format – helps keep my writing and my delivery more natural, since the task of a preacher is different than the task of an essayist or lecturer.  However, copying and pasting this format from Microsoft Word to the blog’s HTML code isn’t always clean.  My apologies.

Are you a good preacher?
Sermons are posted “as-is,” and no guarantee is made that these sermons are insightful, moving, or even very good.  Surely some of these sermons are, and surely some are not.  But I view this blog more as a repository than as a showcase.  Read at your own risk!

So, what’s here?
All the sermons I’ve written and preached since my ordination in December 2008 are posted on The Lutheran Zephyr: Sermons (there is also a sermon archives).  Extant sermons delivered prior to my ordination can be found at my old sermons page. Thank you for visiting.

Can I subscibe to your sermons via RSS or email?
Yup! Click here and get links to my sermons on your Google or Yahoo (or most any other service) homepage, or in your feedreader, when they’re posted.  An email subscription option is also available by clicking on that link.

From Reformation to Advent: Liturgical Whiplash

I'm not entirely satisfied with my experience of the church calendar in late October, November, and December.  Let me try to explain.


A blogpost from two years ago, expressing my frustration with how Reformation Sunday, All Saints Sunday, Stewardship Sunday(s) and Thanksgiving all work in concert to mess with the flow of the lectionary as we approach the end of the church year. Includes some good comments posted by friends who are much smarter and more insightful than I …

Click on link above to read the entire post and comments, from 2008.

Who is Chris?

My name is Chris Duckworth.

I am a husband, father, Lutheran pastor, baseball fan, novice runner, and political junkie.  It’s that third thing – Lutheran pastor – that dominates the discussion on this blog, though it’s hard to tease apart the influences of those other four things.

I was ordained in December 2008 in Arlington, VA, where I served my first congregation. I am blessed now to serve a congregation on the East Side of Saint Paul, MN. Prior to that, I held a number of other church-related positions:

  • Hospital chaplain (serving one 3-month internship and a 9-month residency) at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia;
  • Field Sales Representative for Augsburg Fortress Publishers (territory stretched from Northern Virgina through New England);
  • Director of Alumni Relations at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia;
  • Director of Youth Ministry at a suburban Philadelphia congregation.

As part of my seminary formation I had several wonderful field education opportunities, including part-time service in two Spanish-language Lutheran congregations and a year-long congregational internship.

In addition to my BA in Latin American Studies from The College of William and Mary and my Master of Divinity with a Latino Ministry Concentration from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, I’ve dabbled in M.B.A. and M.Ed. programs at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.

In October 2002 I married Jessicah Krey, a beautiful woman, scholar, pastor, friend, baseball fan and lover of justice. Despite her loyalty to the abomination known as the Designated Hitter, I still love her. We have three children: Talitha, Cana, and Naaman.

I’m hopelessly Lutheran. Of course, what does it mean to be Lutheran?  At its core Lutheran theology describes human nature, the church, and God in paradoxical terms – Sinner/Saint, Two Kingdoms, Law/Gospel, Justification by Grace through Faith, Theology of the Cross. These paradoxes avoid a black and white, either/or, absolutist approach to faith, but allows for nuance, ambiguity, and questions.  Certainly there is much we can and do confidently say about our faith, but the reminder that we are simultaneously sinner and saint, or that God comes to us most clearly where we’d least expect a god to show up – in the suffering of the cross and world – checks our hubris and leads us to proclaim with Martin Luther, “We are all beggars. This is true.”

Though Lutheranism can be dressed up in a variety of ways – particularly in the arenas of polity and liturgy – I believe the church does well when it honors the received theological and liturgical traditions and faithfully presents these gifts to longstanding members and newcomers alike as treasures of faith and pathways to discipleship.  As a pastor I take seriously both the Church’s liturgical tradition and our Lutheran confessional heritage, convinced that these gifts are relevant and essential to our church’s identity and ministry today, and not simply vestiges of a church gone by.  Lutheran issues are some of the main topics of this blog, of course.

I’m committed to the church and its mission to proclaim the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God. Our faith is inherently eschatological, one that “looks for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”  Indeed, every day we pray “thy kingdom come,” and Jesus shows us the Kingdom in myriad ways, both within and beyond the church’s walls and ministry.  I believe that the Kingdom of God is rearing its wonderful head all the time – in the church, in our neighborhoods, in the world.  Part of my calling as a Christian, and particularly as a pastor and church leader, is to name those instances of God’s Kingdom coming, and to encourage people to see and participate in it.

Since my ordination I have steered clear of politics on this blog.  Nonetheless, one of my religious and political passions is the separation of church and state, a tenet of American identity which safeguards the integrity and independence of both church and state.  Sadly, many in the church and in politics seek to join what is best kept separate. 

I also enjoy baseball (particularly of the Phillies variety), my family, running, politics and news, and writing.  My writing projects have included:


For more information about this blog:

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The Charter of the ELCA Ecology Task Force

A web presence for the ELCA’s new Ecology task force is is coming soon, but here are the notes (copied from a .pdf document linked here) outlining the purpose and scope of the ELCA’s new task force.

Awkward formatting due to copying and pasting from a .pdf document.  To read the .pdf, click above link, and then select Report of Particular Actions of the Church Council from their November meeting.


At its March 2009 meeting, the Executive Committee
recommended the following action, which was approved
by the Church Council [CC09.03.04]:
To acknowledge that the principles
of organization of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America call us to
be one church consisting of
“interdependent partners sharing
responsibly in God’s mission” in which
this church is called to be in
relationship with institutions and
agencies, including seminaries,
colleges, and universities, as well as
other partners, so that together we can
build capacity for evangelical witness
and service in the world;
To recognize that more than 20
years have passed since the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America came into
existence, that the relationships among
this church and partner institutions and
agencies have evolved substantially,
and that assumptions that undergirded
the original organization, governance,
and interrelationships of this church
may no longer apply or apply in a
different way in the 21st century;
To recognize further that
significant societal and economic
changes have taken place that raise
profound issues regarding the
organization and governance of this
church, its interrelationships with
partner institutions and agencies, and
the ways in which ministry can be
accomplished most effectively;
To acknowledge the desire by this
Church Council to address these
difficult and complex issues by
beginning a process to evaluate the
organization and governance of this
church and the interrelationships
among its expressions and partner
agencies and institutions for the
purpose of bringing a comprehensive
report and recommendations to the
2011 Churchwide Assembly;
To authorize the Presiding Bishop,
in collaboration with the Executive
Committee of the Church Council and
the Conference of Bishops, to appoint
a study group for the purpose of
formulating a plan to undertake such an
evaluation; and
To request that the study group
bring a report and possible
recommendations through the
Executive Committee in consultation
with the Planning and Evaluation
Committee for the April 2010 meeting
of the ELCA Church Council and such
report include the membership of a task
force to conduct the evaluation, an
outline of potential topics to address, a
timetable, budget implications, and
such other issues as the study group
believes will facilitate the evaluation.
Church Council Action:
To approve the charter for the Ecology Study
Design Group [as printed below]:
Living into the Future Together:
Renewing the Ecology1 of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America2 (ELCA)
October 28, 2009


The purpose of the ELCA Ecology Study Task Force
study is to recognize the evolving societal and economic
changes of the twenty years since the formation of this
church, and to evaluate the organization, governance, and
interrelationships among this church’s expressions in the
light of those changes. The intended result of the Ecology
Study Task Force’s work is a report and recommendations
that will position this church for the future and explore
new possibilities for participating in God’s mission.


At its March 2009 meeting, the ELCA Church
Council authorized Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson in
collaboration with the Executive Committee of the Church
Council and the Conference of Bishops to appoint a study
design group. The task of the study design group was to
design a charter for a task force “ … to evaluate the
organization and governance of this church and the
interrelationships among its expressions and partner
agencies and institutions for the purpose of bringing a
comprehensive report and recommendations to the 2011
Churchwide Assembly.”3 The report of the task force first
will be received by the ELCA Church Council.
The study design group was formed and met on June
15-16, 2009. The group met via a conference call on
August 4 and then in a face-to-face meeting on September
15-16, 2009. In fulfillment of the ELCA Church
Council’s assignment, the study design group submits the
charter below. The charter contains the context, scope,
membership, budget, timeline, and process for the work of
the proposed ELCA Ecology Study Task Force.


“The Church is a people created by God in Christ,
empowered by the Holy Spirit, called and sent to bear
witness to God’s creative, redeeming, and sanctifying

activity in the world.”4 In light of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America’s calling to participate in
God’s mission, this church is engaging in an evaluation
and reimagining of its ecology and related ecosystems.
The Church, the body of Christ, is a living entity that
must be mindful of and attentive to its relationships and to
its contexts. The ELCA, part of the body of Christ,
celebrates that an important part of the ELCA identity is
its relationship with its partners in ministry. While each
partner occupies an ecosystem of its own, the three
expressions of this church (congregations, synods, and the
churchwide organization), along with its agencies and
institutions, live together as they seek to participate in
carrying out God’s mission in the world.
In the 20 years since the ELCA was created, the
environment has changed dramatically in ways not
imagined when the ELCA was formed. There has been an
explosion of knowledge. New developments in
technology, particularly related to electronic
communication, have altered the way people understand
and relate to one another. Globalization and mobility have
produced new levels of religious, ethnic, racial, and
cultural diversity within American society.
Many churches in the United States have struggled to
negotiate these changes positively. The trends in
membership and giving within the ELCA—back to its
predecessor bodies—reflect the challenge of envisioning
these changes as rich opportunities.
• In 2008, the baptized membership of the ELCA was
4.7 million while the population of the United States
was 304 million. In 1970, the baptized membership
of the ELCA was 5.7 million while the population of
the United States was 203 million.
• The number of those attending worship in a typical
ELCA congregation has declined from about 148 in
1990 to about 128 in 2008.
• The ELCA has been unable to achieve the goal it set
for itself in 1988 of a 10 percent baptized
membership of persons of color or language other
than English. While these groups represent 32
percent of the population in the United States, they
comprise only three percent of the baptized
membership of the ELCA.
• The membership of the ELCA is considerably older
than the population of the United States. The average
age of a baptized member of the ELCA is about 56.
This compares to an age of about 40 for the general
• In 2008, undesignated and designated giving to
ELCA congregations declined for the first time since
he beginning of the ELCA. When adjusted for
inflation, undesignated and designated giving to
congregations in the ELCA has risen only slightly
since the beginning of the ELCA.
• Congregations consistently have lowered the amount
they share with their synods and the churchwide
organization as a percent of undesignated and
designated giving. In 1990, congregations remitted
about 10 percent of their undesignated and
designated giving to their synod and the churchwide
organization. In 2008, congregations sent about six
• Mission support passed on from synods to the
churchwide organization has remained at about $65
million since the beginning of the ELCA. Adjusting
for inflation, the churchwide organization is
operating with half the financial resources available
in 1990.
• The American economy, which is now clearly global
in its scope, has most recently slipped into a
recession that has impacted the financial capacities of
the various expressions of this church and its
• The structure and governance practices of the ELCA
(i.e., the Churchwide Assembly, the Church Council,
the Conference of Bishops, Synod Councils, the
churchwide organization) have not been evaluated as
a whole in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, and
At the same time, in this changing, exciting, and
sometimes overwhelming environment, God has
continued to bless this church with abundant gifts. The
ELCA has a long history of service through its
congregations, synods, the churchwide organization,
seminaries, campus ministries, outdoor ministries,
colleges and universities, social ministry organizations,
global companions, and other partners. Because of the
faithful commitment of the members of this church, the
ELCA continues to accomplish its purposes to proclaim
God’s saving Gospel, to carry out Christ’s Great
Commission, to serve in response to God’s love to meet
human needs, to worship God, to nurture members in the
Word of God, and to manifest unity.5
The ELCA gathers together 4.7 million baptized
members in over 10,000 congregations. In 2008, 1.3
million people attended worship each week, 62,000
children were baptized, and $1.9 billion was given by its
members to support the mission and ministry of the
ELCA. This mission and ministry grow out of a
theological heritage that believes the Good News of Jesus
Christ speaks to all people and all places. Its confessional

documents recognize that unity is in the teaching of the
Gospel and the administration of the sacraments.6
Over the decades, this ecology has been shaped by
the Lutheran capacity for broad theological reflection,
dialog, and conversation. Opportunities abound for
participating in God’s mission in creative new ways. As
we live into the future together, how can this church in its
various expressions participate most effectively in
carrying out God’s mission in the world?


Recognizing these significant environmental changes,
the ELCA Ecology Study Task Force will be led by these
overarching questions:
What is God calling this church to be and to do in the
What changes are in order to help us respond most
Specific questions to be addressed are:
1. What unique gifts does our theological, confessional,
and liturgical identity bring to this environment and
to this time of change?
2. How is God surprising and leading us in the midst of
change and uncertainty to new and distinctive
3. What are the key changes, internal and external, that
have most impacted the relationships and
interdependence within and among the
congregations, synods, the churchwide organization,
and related organizations, agencies, entities, and
partners including, but not limited to, seminaries,
campus ministries, outdoor ministries, colleges and
universities, social ministry organizations,
ecumenical partners, global companions, and others?
4. Given the importance of congregations in the ELCA,
how has the changing environment impacted their
mission and relationships? How might this church
through its congregations, in partnership with synods
and the churchwide organization, engage in ministry
with evangelical missional imagination for the sake
of the world?
5. How can the ELCA’s relationships with its full
communion and global mission partners strengthen
and extend this church’s mission and ministries?
How can we learn from and partner with ministries
and organizations accomplishing God’s work beyond
this church?
6. How can this church most effectively and efficiently
steward and deploy the funds available for its
mission? What are the current patterns and what are
their implications for future funding patterns?
7. How can the governing documents in the
Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions
provide structures and governance mechanisms that
strengthen identity and faithfully and effectively
facilitate mission and ministry?
The twelve to fifteen members of the ELCA Ecology
Study Task Force will reflect a variety of perspectives and
backgrounds representative of the expressions of this
church. The study will engage additional resource people
throughout the process.
The estimated expense for the ELCA Ecology Study
Task Force’s work for 2009–2011 is $170,000. This
includes expenses for staff support, travel, task force
meetings, and limited research and consultation services.
2009: $35,000
2010: $90,000
2011: $45,000
The ELCA Ecology Study Task Force will report
regularly to the Conference of Bishops and Church
Council for the purpose of preparing a report and
recommendations for action at the August 2011
Churchwide Assembly.


The methodology with which the study proceeds will
be critical and will be the first order of business. The
ELCA Ecology Study Task Force will carry out its work
with transparency and regular communication with the
various constituencies of the ELCA. It will seek wisdom
from existing research and input from the expressions of
this church and its institutions, agencies, and partners.


1 Ecology is the science of the relationship and
interdependence between living beings and their
environments. It is also a study of the relationship
between parts and the whole, in this case among the
ELCA’s various constituencies.
2 In the remainder of the charter, the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America normally will
be referred to as “this church.”
3 CC09.03.04, ELCA Church Council Meeting,
March 27-30, 2009.
4 ELCA Constitution 4.01.
5 ELCA Constitution 4.02
6 The Book of Concord, The Augsburg Confession, Article VII