Five Protestant churches — including our Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — will decide this summer whether to narrow gaps that have existed between the denominations since the Reformation.
Positive votes on two ecumenical proposals would declare full communion between the ELCA and the Episcopal Church, and between the ELCA and three Reformed churches — the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Reformed Church in America and the United Church of Christ. For full communion to be declared, each church must vote positively on the proposal before it.
The Lutheran asked four ELCA synod bishops to write articles that focus on the "pros" and "cons" of the proposals.
The ELCA vote will be taken at its assembly in Philadelphia Aug. 14-20. The ELCA can adopt both, one or none of the proposals.
What does full communion mean?
• Each church confesses a common faith.
• Members may commune in each other's church and transfer memberships.
• Clergy can be exchanged if desirable.
• Joint efforts in evangelism, witness, service (starting congregations, producing materials, etc.) are possible.
Yes (by Paul J. Blom)
The proposed Concordat of Agreement between the Episcopal Church and the ELCA is primarily about celebrating our common faith and focusing on our common mission.
No (by Richard J. Foss)
The question before voting members at our Churchwide Assembly regarding the Lutheran-Episcopal Concordat of Agreement is not whether to be ecumenical; it is how to be ecumenical in such a way that we can faithfully live out Jesus' Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20) and Great Commandment (Matthew 22:34-40, John 13:34), while living in the most fruitful relationship possible with others in the body of Christ.
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