My “opposite number” (as ecumenical officer for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) and I have just finished leading a wonderful conference for nearly 100 Lutheran and Episcopal clergy in Virginia. We each addressed “the nature of the unity we seek” as defined by our two communions and then sought to tease out what shapes Lutherans and Episcopalians theologically.
My presentation was entitled “The People of the Prayer Book and the Anglican Way.” My counterpart’s was “The Lutheran Confessions and Worship.” Our conclusions (admittedly much-abbreviated) were that Episcopalians are formed theologically primarily through liturgy while Lutherans are formed primarily through its confessional statements.
But the most amazing part of this conference was the relationships which have been built by living into our full communion agreement “Called to Common Mission” and the many instances of such common mission going on in this part of the church and world. I would say that the main reason for the success of CCM in this part of the world is the fact that:
1. Both Lutheran and Episcopal bishops and the leadership of their synods and dioceses are supportive and actively involved.
2. They have established a LOCAL Joint Coordinating Committee to dream, plan, and execute local expressions of our full communion agreement.
This was an enormously encouraging experience. Why can’t it be duplicated all around the country?