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Ancient roots, new community


By Julie B. Sevig


Brother Jeff Steeber, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Avon Lake, Ohio, holds Brother Joseph Byrd, Holland, Mich. Steeber is a novice and Byrd is minister of formation for the Order of Lutheran Franciscans.


Five years ago this summer seven Lutherans who


had never met face-to-face serendipitously walked into the constituting meeting for the Order of Lutheran Franciscans (OLF) unsure of whether the order would really take off. After three days, they walked out together, too, with a shared dream for the order. “Many times I’ve called it a miracle. We walked


into the meeting hall from all over, at the same. It was uncanny,” said Brother Joseph Byrd, the order’s minister of formation. The OLF may be relatively new, but it dates


back to the friars of the Middle Ages. St. Francis of Assisi was a mendicant friar (those who give up worldly possessions) and founder of the Franciscan movement. “It’s the largest movement in the history of


Christianity, and we’re just a part of it,” Byrd said. When the OLF was formed, Brother Christopher Markert, its minister general, said he expected


32 JUNE 2016


only five to 12 would be part of the community. In five years, the order now has roughly 40 brothers and sisters at varying stages of formation and membership: • Postulant, the beginning of the formal inquiry process.


• Novice, making initial vows that are renewed and participating in ongoing formation.


• Life profession, making final vows—considered full membership in the order. These 40—from young adults to retired folks—


make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but they don’t live cloistered. They are dispersed throughout the United States and abroad, including China, Norway, Canada and South America. The order’s base of operations is in Houston. More than half are married, including Byrd and


his wife, Sister Grace, who is a full-time musician in the Kalamazoo, Mich., orchestra.


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