The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


UMC: 'Yes' to full communion

The United Methodist Church’s General Conference voted 864-19 to establish full communion with the ELCA at its April 23-May 2 meeting in Fort Worth, Texas.

In April the ELCA Church Council asked that a formal proposal for full communion with the UMC be presented at its November meeting. The council will consider whether to transmit that proposal to the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly for approval. (See "ELCA Church Council affirms malaria work" for a Church Council report.)

Under full communion, the churches would work for visible unity in Jesus Christ, recognize each other’s ministries, collaborate on ministry initiatives and provide, in some cases, for interchange of clergy.

Saying the decision was a “long time coming,” William Oden, ecumenical officer of the UMC Council of Bishops, emphasized that the proposal is a relationship, not a “church union.”

ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson said full communion “calls for ecumenical, missional imagination.” The church bodies, he added, must consider what they can do together in such areas as campus ministry, global mission or advocacy for justice and peace.

Theological dialogue between Lutherans and United Methodists began in 1977. This led to interim eucharistic sharing with the ELCA in 2005, where members were called to pray for and support each other, study the Bible together and learn about each others’ traditions.




Posted at 12:26 am (U.S. Eastern) 5/27/2008

I truly hope that this full communion agreement does more for the ELCA than did ts full communion agreement (i.e., the Called to Common Mission agreement), reached in the late 1990s, with the Episcopal Church USA.  As we all know, the ECUSA is a shambles -- actually, not far from being ejected from the worldwide Anglican Communion.  The ownership of ECUSA church property is a hotly contested issue here in the US, reflecting the severe internal conflicts wthin the  ECUSA between traditionalists and liberals:  how sad to watch the ECUSA hierarchy threaten local parishes with loss of their historic parish property.  At the time the ELCA reached its full communion agreement with the ECUSA, the agreement was heralded by the ELCA hieracrchy (not by the people in the pews, who were largely in the dark about the agreement) as some sort of a milestone that would advance the interests of the ELCA.  But since then, both the ELCA and the ECUSA have lost members, notwithstanding growth in the general population.  Let's all hope a full-communion agreement with the Methodists does more for the ELCA than its agreement with the ECUSA.   Actually, I suspect it will.  



Posted at 11:27 pm (U.S. Eastern) 6/5/2008


I never could understand how the ELCA which is suppose to be Lutheran could have full communion with churches that don't believe that you receive Christ's very Body and Blood in the bread and wine. The Reform type churches, Moravians, Methodist and ECUSA all believe that it is a spiritual presence and his body is still in heaven. Martin Luther would be turning over in his grave if he knew what the ELCA is doing with intercommunion.  

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Embracing diversity