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Episcopal commission: Bylaw needn't impair CCM

In an Oct. 27 statement, the Episcopal Church's Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations said it viewed the bylaw passed by the ELCA 2001 Churchwide Assembly as "making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit." The bylaw allows exceptions to ordination requirements ofCalled to Common Mission, the ELCA-Episcopal full communion agreement.

Affirming the Episcopal commitment to Christian unity, the commission recognized that "increasing unity often requires us, like all Christians, ... to be willing to 'forego preferences of [our] own.' "

While any provision for exceptions to CCM was "a matter of serious concern" to the commission, it said the bylaw "need not impair or hinder our relationship of full communion with the ELCA." Reasons given included:

  • Full communion must be lived into, and entails fostering and preserving communion not only with the Episcopal Church, but within the ELCA.

  • The Churchwide Assembly's actions support the ministry of a bishop as "concerned with unity of the church, and as overseer of ordination, a key element of CCM."

  • The shared ministry of bishops in the historic succession is a reality that will come into being over time.

    The commission also expressed deep concern for how the bylaw would be used, saying the ELCA had assured it would be restricted "to the rarest and most serious of circumstances."

    Its statement says: "While we wait to see how the bylaw is used in practice, we are guided by St. Paul's exhortations to forbearance and Christian love, and by our Lord Jesus Christ's high priestly prayer that we all may be one, that the world may believe."


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