Full Communion Nearer: Cheers Greet Lutherans' Decision

Article excerpt

Regina

Balloons, party streamers and sustained applause greeted the almost unanimous decision of the National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada to approve in principle a declaration of full communion with the Anglican Church of Canada.

The Anglican General Synod adopted an identical resolution in June 1998. The ELCIC National Convention and General Synod are to meet simultaneously in July 2001 in Waterloo, Ont., when they are expected to give final approval to the agreement for full communion.

The decision at that time will be based on a revised version of a document know as the Waterloo Declaration, outlining theological agreement on matters of faith and order, including the episcopate, which enabled the interim sharing of altar fellowship now taking place.

Spokespersons for both churches emphasized that full communion is a merger -- each church will retain its separate identity while co-operation increases. Clergy can minister and members can worship across denominational boundaries.

About 350 delegates, plus 150 visitors and special guests attended the July convention in Regina, representing about 200,000 ELCIC members across Canada. The denomination was formed in 1986 by a merger of the Lutheran Church in America -- Canada Section and Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada.

The Anglican Church of Canada has about 800,000 members. After the vote, Anglican Primate Archbishop Michael Peers quoted the first Anglican Primate, Robert Machray, who said at the first General Synod in 1893, "This is a coming together not for harmony but for strength."

The enthusiasm of Canadian Lutherans for full communion contrasts sharply with attitudes toward similar proposals in the United States for inter-communion between the Lutheran Church of America and the Episcopal Church, where, as one delegate said, "They're having a terrific battle."

The only real opposition at the Regina convention came when a speaker alleged that public statements by Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster on issues of religious pluralism and same-sex relationships raised

questions about Anglican theological orthodoxy. …