Signs Of Unity

      Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Concludes With Special Liturgy 

At the invitation of Presiding Bishop
Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop Jeremiah Park of the New York Conference of the
UnitedMethodist Church, the Rev. Dr.
David Henritzy joined Bishop Christopher Epting at the altar of the Episcopal Church’s Chapel of Christ the Lord on January 25, 2007. Observing the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, the Eucharist also concluded the celebration of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Dr. Henritzy, a Methodist minister, former hospital chaplain, and long time staff member at the Church Center publicly thanked Bishop Jefferts Schori for initiating the idea and Bishop Park for granting permission and encouraging the joint celebration in compliance with the interim eucharistic sharing agreement achieved by the United Methodist and Episcopal churches. The agreement, approved at the 2006 General Convention, is similar to the stage of Eucharistic sharing engaged in by the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, leading up to the declaration of their full communion in 2001.

Such interim Eucharistic sharing is a stage along the way to full communion and marks sufficient agreement in doctrinal and theological matters to begin sharing the Eucharist in this way on a regular basis. Permission by bishops of both churches must be obtained, an authorized eucharistic liturgy of one of the two churches must be used, and an ordained bishop or presbyter of each church must stand together at the altar for the Eucharistic prayer. This symbolizes that the two churches have reached the point where ordained ministers can stand together at the Table, but not yet interchangeably.

In this first celebration at the Episcopal Church Center, Dr. Henritzy preached the homily, focusing on the importance of personal conversion as evidenced in the life of both Paul the apostle and John Wesley in the face of conflict in the institutional church.

He pointed out that such conflict often arises from within the institution rather than outside and calls for an even deeper commitment and faithfulness to Christ in the face of such division.    

The congregation for this service on January 25 included The Rev. Doug Mills and Mr. Tim Yeo from the United Methodist headquarters, who brought greetings not only to Dr. Henritzy but to Bishop Jefferts Schori who attended the celebration which she had encouraged in the first place! 


9 Responses to “Signs Of Unity”

  1. Chris T. Says:

    Welcome to the blogosphere, Bishop!

    I know there are a couple other TEC bishops blogging out there, but I particularly appreciate your contribution, both in terms of furthering the conversation about ecumenical concerns and because your posts seem a bit less “filtered” and processed than some clergy’s — good to hear personal reflections. 🙂

    Anyhow, on to my real comment. 🙂 I’m an Independent Catholic priest, but I worship with Episcopalians in modo laico midweek. I have a great deal of love in my heart for the Episcopal Church and appreciate the work you folks do for Christian unity. But I would caution against putting too much weight on what the leadership does. I was very sad to see, in my time in the ELCA during college, that CCM did not do much to encourage common worship between Episcopalians and Lutherans in many communities. This is very hard work which is ongoing — until the whole Christian world can (theoretically) come to the same Table for Eucharist and does (actually) do so regularly in their local communities, I fear we will remain in our lamentable disunity.

    I look forward to reading your further posts!


  2. ecubishop Says:

    Hi Chris:

    Well, it take some time for ecumenical agreements to be “received” across the Church. But, I can testify that there are joint Lutheran-Episcopal congregations now, new church starts being done together, joint social services responding to Katrina devastation, and many more missional activities. None of these existed before CCM.

    And *many* Lutherans and Episcopalians now ‘come to the same Table for Eucharist” now. It may be slow…but it’s happening!

  3. JCF Says:

    That’s encouraging to hear, Bishop * (both your entry, and the post-Katrina developments).

    The difficulty in ecumenical actions, come from *2* places: 1) institutional self-interest: regrettable, but very understandable, in human terms. 2) Disparagement from those *outside* the ecumenical relationship: I can’t count the number of times (in my ecumenical studies) I saw quotes of those poo-poo’ing an ecumenical relationship, in the tone of “It’s a marriage of the dying” or “only LOSERS in the religious marketplace unite”.

    It’s hard enough to get over our own internal resistance, to the RISKS inherent in any relationship, but then when we hear sniping all around us, we may be tempted to listen to it.

    Press on, brothers-and-sisters-in-Christ! *GOD* wills our unity, beyond the fears the sneak up within or without. Keep eyes focused on the cross, and our fears—and the naysayers—will dissolve into nothingness. In Gospel Unity, is VICTORY! 😀

    * May we call you Christopher? (Whatever you prefer!)

  4. rwk Says:

    First Question: I ask “unity” on what basis? There are many ways to achieve unity. You can achieve unity by believing the differences are of no consequence. You can achieve unity by agreeing on a common core of belief. You can most easily achieve “unity” by being the only one left in the room.

    I have felt more “at one” in some non-Episcopal churches than I have in some Episcopal ones, such is the state of our own institution and Communion. I have heard Episcopalians denounce each other from the pulpit and Eucharistic Table. We must in this case look to the plank in our own eye. There is plenty of fault on all sides of this issue.

    Question 2: What is “unity”? Are we united if can interchange clergy, share the Eucharist, vote in the same conventions? Once again, I often feel more “at one” with many with whom I can do none of those things than I am with those with whom I currently share those priviliges.

  5. ecubishop Says:

    JCF: “Christopher” is fine. Baptismal names are best!

    Question One: Anglicans at least agree on the Lambeth Quadrilateral as a basis for unity – The Bible, the Creeds, Baptism and Eucharist, the historic episcopate. We have often said we believe in one God, two Testaments, three Creeds, four Councils and five centuries as the basic deposit of faith.
    Now, how we *interpret* those things remain the question — and, I agree that we treat each other badly these days. It’s a scandal.

    Question Two: Full communion is achieved after sufficient agreement on the above essentials has been reached and two churches “vote” to enter into that kind of relationship – which also entails the interchangeability of clergy and some kind of joint coordinating council to plan for common mission. Like you, I sometimes feel more at home with our full communion partners than in my own “house!”

  6. rwk Says:

    Thank you.

    I concur that “interpretation” is the problem. However, it seems, especially in the wake of the +Righter trial, the church has chosen to not interpret and each interprets and whoever gets the most votes in the General Convention wins.

  7. Puck Says:

    So you choose to worship with people who broke away from the Church of England in 1789. And those people broke from the Church of Rome under Henry VIII. And those people split from the synagogue about 2000 years ago. But now that homosexuals runs the church you want to talk about unity?

    Maybe that isn’t God’s plan.

    Maybe, that’s why He confused the languages in the first place.

  8. Chris T. Says:

    Bishop —

    Thank you for your reply! I was indeed very pleased to see the kind of cooperation (esp. coming together to the Table) that you described in some communities in Southern Illinois, after college — and after I had left the ELCA incidentally. I just wish more communities would take the opportunity. I think even before the two problems JCF describes kick in, there’s some rather un-Christian laziness — I can certainly own up to it myself. Why even bother? They’re just people, and their services are perfectly good for them. Why worship together? It’s that attitude that has to be gotten past — worshiping together, especially receiving the Eucharist together, is more powerful than we ever anticipate! 🙂

    Anyhow, welcome again, and thanks for your response! Peace.

  9. rex Says:

    jesus is good

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