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Anglicans, Lutherans Gather at Niagara

Representatives of four North American Anglican and Lutheran churches met at the Carmelite Centre in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Sept. 24-27 to continue the work of the Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission.

This meeting included 20 members of the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

Against a background of daily worship, the group examined matters of common concern, including the orderly exchange of clergy, the provision of worship resources, the preparation of shared responses to World Council of Churches documents and initiatives, and the support of congregations in which Lutherans and Anglicans minister together.

It prepared a memorandum of quadrilateral mutual recognition, proposing the extension of existing bilateral agreements across the Canadian-American border. This document will be reviewed internally by appropriate bodies in each church. It mandates “complete continuing exchange of information about ministerial conduct, duly honoring that such exchanges are subject in each case to approval by sending and receiving bishops.”

This meeting follows General Convention’s Resolution A036, providing a triennial reaffirmation of dialogues and coordinating committees in which the Episcopal Church is engaged. This resolution, passed on consent, “celebrates with joy and gratitude the deepening international relationship among the leaders of the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and commends the members of these churches for the work they have done together and the statements and study documents they have jointly issued.”

Episcopalians and members of the ELCA have been in full communion since 2001; Anglicans and Lutherans in Canada have also been in full communion since 2001’s Waterloo Declaration. In the United States, there are more than 150 sites — parishes, campus ministries, summer camps, food pantries, and public advocacy initiatives — where ELCA and Episcopal clergy or congregations collaborate under the guidelines established in the 1999 document Called to Common Mission. The primates of the four churches issue annual devotional materials for Advent, Lent, or Epiphany, and make common statements on issues related to human rights and the stewardship of creation.

The group referred work to several subcommittees, including one to develop a liturgical text for joint ELCA-Episcopal chrism masses, and another to prepare for the 2021 celebration of the twentieth anniversary of full communion relationships. It proposed educational support for transition ministers and new bishops about the sharing of clergy across churches.

The Anglican co-chair of the meeting was the Very Rev. Peter Wall, Dean of Niagara, who was joined by Bishop Larry Kochendorfer of the ELCIC’s Synod of Alberta and the Territories. An observer from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton also participated.

Richard J. Mammana

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