Wonderful day for ecumenism yesterday! The House of Bishops of the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Churh passed “Finding Our Delight In The Lord,” a full communion proposal with the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church. The House of Deputies now must rule on this.
This has been in the works for nearly a decade and builds both on local dialogue in North Carolina (where Moravians are strong) and theological dialogue on the national level. This 15th century “pre Reformation” reformed community is a liturgical church with a three-fold ministry, once described by the Church of England as “an ancient Protestant episcopal church.”
They are a gentle, spiritual people whose faith is as informed by their beautiful hymnody as ours is by the Prayer Book. They are missionally minded and ecumenically committed, already in full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
There had been some opposition voiced, particularly by the way their bishops function (pastorally and sacramentally, but not much administratively) and by the fact that their transitional deacons can preside at the Eucharist (the dialogue team solved that one by deciding that, sadly, deacons will not be interchangeable under this agreement).
However, we must have been able to answer the objections because the House of Bishops passed it without a dissenting vote!
Earlier in the day, Moravian Bishop Hopeton Clennon of the Moravian Theological Seminary co-presided at the Eucharist with Bishop Steven Miller of Milwaukee (who is co-chair of the Moravian dialogue). This was done under the terms of our interim Eucharistic sharing arrangement with the Moravians on the way to full communion.
We have much to learn from each other and, yesterday, one small step was taking on the road to Christian unity.