The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Full communion decision

A proposal for "full communion" between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church will be the major agenda item at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Denver, Aug. 16-22.

Full communion refers to a relationship in which the denominations recognize each other as true churches of Christ whose parishioners may move back and forth in membership, commune in each other's churches and whose clergy may serve in each church's parishes. The two denominations also could jointly start congregations and produce materials.

The ELCA Church Council is forwarding to the assembly a document titled "Called to Common Mission." It is the result of two years of revisions to the Concordat, which failed by six votes to achieve the required two-thirds majority at the 1997 assembly.

Opponents of CCM will introduce an alternative proposal, the "Mahtomedi Resolution."

"Full communion" will also be voted upon in Denver between the ELCA and the Moravian Church. The Moravians adopted the proposal last year.

In 1997 the ELCA adopted full communion with three Reformed churches — the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Reformed Church in America and the United Church of Christ.

CCM revisions of the 1997 Concordat include:

* No "bishops for life."
* No reference to threefold ministry as the "future pattern" for the ELCA.
* At least three bishops in historic succession to be present at ELCA installations of bishops, normally one Episcopalian.
* Only active ELCA bishops preside at ordinations, but pastors may participate.
* Episcopal priests transferring permanently to the ELCA roster must agree to the ELCA "Confession of Faith.


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