By Egan Millard
Episcopal News Service
The Episcopal Church celebrated the 10th anniversary of its agreement of full communion with the Northern and Southern provinces of the Moravian Church in America at a virtual ceremony on Feb. 10, featuring remarks from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings and Moravian leaders, in addition to music and prayers from members of both denominations.
“Our relationship as Moravians and Episcopalians could be looked at as just a nice church thing, but it is more than that,” Curry said in his sermon. “It is a sign. It is a witness. It is a yearning for what God yearns, not simply for the church but for the entire human family.”
The 10th-anniversary celebration, which was streamed on YouTube, showcased the traditions of both denominations and celebrated the churches’ common efforts, including joint antiracism work guided by the Sacred Ground curriculum and by Catherine Meeks, executive director of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing, in the Diocese of Atlanta.
“I have learned so much from our Episcopal siblings about courageous witness in the public square, which has emboldened our witness as Moravians,” the Rev. Betsy Miller, president of the Moravian Church Northern Province, told Episcopal News Service, adding that communion is not a static agreement but a learning process. “Living into full communion is something that is never fully achieved, but remains a journey of discovery, renewal and enrichment,” she said.
The celebratory tone of the evening was tempered by the pandemic and by humble acknowledgments of racism, including a litany of repentance and renewed mission.
“As we celebrate tonight, we also acknowledge that we are in need of healing, not only from the pandemic, but even more from the racism that has characterized our country and our churches for far too long,” said the Rev. Maria Tjeltveit, who represents The Episcopal Church as co-chair of the Moravian-Episcopal Coordinating Committee. “Therefore, our service includes a call to racial reconciliation, with repentance, and a commissioning, so that in full communion with one another, we can work together to build Christ’s kingdom, where are all are welcomed and valued.”