Celebrating ten years of full communion
By Peter Wall
Published: May 2011
Related Topics: Ecclesiology, Leadership, Liturgy, Spirituality
Many readers will remember the late spring of 2001, when, in Waterloo, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada and the National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada both proclaimed The Waterloo Declaration
and formally began a relationship which had been carefully developed and nurtured for many years and which has, in the decade since, deepened and flourished.
This year, indeed in these very days, two very important events have taken place which both celebrate and bear witness to this special relationship. Early in April, the two national executive bodies of our two churches—The National Church Council (ELCIC) and the Council of General Synod (ACC) met together over four days at a retreat centre in Mississauga. This joint meeting, comprising about 70 people—elected representatives, staff, and guests—worshiped, prayed, dined, socialized, and worked together. While each body met separately in order to carry out their necessary legislative work, much of the time was devoted to being
together—getting to know each other, learning about each other's churches, home congregations, dioceses, and synods, and about issues, concerns, and opportunities facing both of meetings and our worship, and a special commemorative tree was planted on the grounds of Queen of Apostles Retreat Centre, reflecting the meeting's theme 'Growing Together'
As well as being the tenth anniversary year of the signing of The Waterloo Declaration
, this year also marks the tenth anniversary of Called to Common Mission
, the document which brought full communion to our American brothers and sisters—The Episcopal Church and The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
. As part of the recognition of that anniversary, and in response to conversations which have taken place between our four church leaders, two celebratory Eucharists are taking place on Sunday, May 1, one in Buffalo, NY and one in our own Diocese—at St. Paul`s, Fort Erie. At the Buffalo service, taking place in Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Presiding Bishop Mark Hansen of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
will preside and Primate Fred Hiltz of The Anglican Church of Canada
will preach. In Fort Erie, National Bishop Susan Johnson of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada will preside and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of The Episcopal Church will preach. It will be an historic event—two services, two countries, four churches, four national church leaders—taking place at the same time on either side of an international border. We are greatly privileged in Niagara to have Bishop Jefferts Schori and Bishop Johnson in our midst; Bishop Bird and Bishop Pryse will also be taking part.
Our full communion relationship with the ELCIC is one of the highlights of this young century for our church. It is one which enlivens both churches, and one in which unity of the church of God is glimpsed and cherished. It has meant a huge amount to me and my own ministry, and has become a strong part of our Diocesan life as well. Full communion
is a relationship which is distinctive and deeper than the many other ecumenical relationships which we share. In our full communion relationship, we recognized each other's ministries and we commit ourselves to an share and honour in those ministries: hence, Anglican Priests and Deacons serve Lutheran parishes; Lutheran pastors service Anglican parishes; those qualified for nomination as Bishop in one of our churches may be nominated in either of our churches; indeed, this has happened already in our country. We value and use each other`s liturgical materials and so, subject to the local authority of local bishops, the wealth of liturgical materials in both
of our churches can be used by us all. We appoint 'partners' to each others' committees and boards and, since 2001, have had a Lutheran member of the (Anglican) Council of General Synod and an Anglican member of the (Lutheran) National Church Council. Since 2007, each of those positions has had both voice and
We committed ourselves, in 2001, to having a Joint Commission
, with representatives from both churches and co-chairs from each church, along with ecumenical and international partners. This Commission is now in its second generation since 2011, and is looking forward at the Joint
National Convention/General Synod in 2013 to presenting both churches with exciting and bold new commitments to take us through the next decade or so.
So, meanwhile, why not take a carload of folks to the special joint service of celebration and witness at St. Paul's Fort Erie (or at Holy Trinity Lutheran in downtown Buffalo) on Sunday afternoon, May 1 at 3:00 p.m. If this cannot happen for you, then organize, sometime during this year, a special celebration in your parish with your Lutheran neighbours. All of the liturgical material being used on May 1 can be found on-line on our diocesan web-site.
Alone we can go faster; but together we can go further!
May it be so! ...