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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Lutheran-Episcopal revisions go to council

A revised document on full communion, hammered out by the drafting team Oct. 14-15, pledges the ELCA and the Episcopal Church to "share in an episcopal succession that is both evangelical and historic." The text adds that one or more bishops of each church will participate in the laying-on-of-hands at ordinations/installations of their own bishops, a sign that "the churches recognize that the bishop serves the diocese or synod through ties of collegiality and consultation that strengthen its links with the universal church."

The new text was sent to the ELCA Church Council and to the church's 65 bishops. At press time the council planned to review the document at its Nov. 13-16 meeting, making changes if it desired and then sending it to the whole church for study.

The wording from the drafting team did not include a "conscience clause" that was discussed by the Conference of Bishops at its October meeting. Such a clause would have allowed bishops to delegate the ordaining of a pastor to someone else. References to former bishops attending the Conference of Bishops or ordaining have been removed.

The revised text makes clear that "the relationship of full communion begins when both churches adopt this Concordat." New language says "we agree that the one ordained ministry will be shared between the two churches in a common pattern for the sake of common mission."

The document also lifts up the Lutheran understanding of "apostolic succession" as the way by which the faith is transmitted over the years. The new text says "the church will over time come to share in the ministry of bishops in an evangelical, historic succession. This succession also is manifest in the churches' use of the apostolic scriptures, the confession of the ancient creeds, and the celebration of the sacraments instituted by our Lord."


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