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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Ecumenical proposals 'rare opportunity'

Faculty from the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg [Pa.] adopted unanimously a statement on the ecumenical proposals facing the ELCA in August.

The statement begins by saying the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has a "rare opportunity for a visible witness to the intended unity of Christianity."

The document deals with the proposals on full communion with the Episcopal Church and with the three Reformed churches. On the Concordat, it says, "We appreciate theEpiscopal Church's sincerity in its agreement that Lutheran ministry has always expressed and been founded by the apostolic truth of the gospel." The document adds, "We see no reason for fear that our voluntary adoption of the historic episcopate will either demote previous Lutheran ministry or compromise subsequent ministries, whether ordained or lay, precisely because both our communions are committed above all to the gospel of justification and the freedom it bestows in strategically advancing the gospel's mission to the world."

'Great gifts'

The document speaks of the two churches being "great gifts to one another and to the church catholic in our mutual recognition and embrace of full communion."

On the Formula of Agreement with the Reformed churches, the statement says, "Careful study of Calvin and our own Lutheran confessions has led us to recognize that we have more convergence on the understanding of the Lord's Supper than previously believed."

The faculty continues, "We are pleased with the language of 'mutual encouragement and admonition' that we will adopt with the Formula of Agreement. This language underscores the honesty by which we wish to characterize our full communion."

The statement closes by emphasizing that both ecumenical proposals would be of less interest were they not to "help our communions vigorously advance the mission of the gospel in our fractious, physically and spiritually starving world."


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