The leaders of the Anglican and Lutheran churches in Canada each spent the fifth Sunday in Lent preaching in churches blocks from their homes. What made April 9 more unusual was that each spoke in the other's church.
Archbishop Michael Peers preached at Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church on Bloor Street West near his Toronto home while Lutheran Bishop Telmor Sartison preached at St. Andrew's Woodhaven in Winnipeg.
In 2001, both denominations will hold their general synods in Waterloo, Ont., at separate gatherings, while coming together for worship. At that time they hope to seal an agreement of full communion that has been approved in principal.
Archbishop Peers told the congregation at the small church -- also home to a Lithuanian congregation -- the exchange was Bishop Sartison's idea. Preaching in the other's local church allowed them to communicate the growing relationship between the Anglican Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, he said.
His personal relationship with the Lutheran Church stretches back a good 30 years, Archbishop Peers said, to when he was rector of St. Bede's in Winnipeg. A nearby Lutheran church congregation asked to move in with the Anglicans and St. Bede's consented. The two co-own the building and today there is just one congregation, with alternating Lutheran and Anglican liturgies.
"It was one of the first of a number of joint congregations across Canada," the Primate said, made possible "because we learned to live and worship with one another."
Bishop Sartison reminded St. Andrew's that the two denominations are travelling on the same "ship," the church of Jesus Christ. St. Andrew's has been in a dialogue on the local level with a neighbouring Lutheran church.
Bishop Sartison spoke at all three morning services at St. Andrew's, the closest parish to his home. And as Archbishop Peers assisted the Lutheran pastor, Rev. Tim Dutcher-Walls, with the eucharist, so did Bishop Sartison assist Anglican rector Rev. Ian Mills.
Confirmed in a Danish Lutheran church in southern Alberta, Bishop Sartison said he knew little about Anglicans until he was 13. As former head of the Lutheran Church in Saskatchewan, he noted that even in small villages, where the population had diminished over the years, there would be several churches. "It was very hard for people to worship in another church."
But more recently Christians are gaining a better understanding of one another's church backgrounds, he said. The ELCIC, along with the Lutheran World Federation, has begun talks in recent years with other churches, including the Roman Catholic Church (last year the two groups signed the Joint Declaration on Justification), but most notably with the Anglican Church. …