April 21, 2005
NOTE: This story was provided by the news service of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
(ELCA)—The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
recommended that its 2005 Churchwide Assembly approve a relationship of
Interim Sharing of the Eucharist between the ELCA and the United
council, which serves as the ELCA’s legislative authority between
churchwide assemblies, met April 9-11 in Chicago. The 2005 Churchwide
Assembly will be Aug. 8-14 in Orlando, Fla.
council’s recommendation came after the ELCA Conference of Bishops
endorsed the proposal in March in Dallas. The Conference of Bishops is
an advisory body consisting of the ELCA’s 65 synod bishops, presiding
bishop and secretary.
an interim commitment, congregations and judicatories of both churches
will be encouraged to study theological documents, participate jointly
in Holy Communion and explore new opportunities for shared ministry.
Eventually, the two churches hope to achieve a relationship of full
communion, which allows for clergy of one church body to serve in
congregations of the other church, and creates opportunities for joint
The two churches have been involved in theological dialogues for nearly 30 years.
ELCA already has established full communion relationships with the
Episcopal Church, Moravian Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA),
Reformed Church in America and United Church of Christ.
council expressed "welcome and rejoiced in the substantial progress" of
the Lutheran-United Methodist dialogue, recognized the United Methodist
denomination as a "church in which the gospel is preached and taught,"
affirmed that the "basic teaching of each respective church is consonant
with the gospel" and acknowledged that the central teaching of the
United Methodist Church is "sufficiently compatible" with the teaching
of the ELCA.
council also encouraged mutual prayer and support by members of ELCA
congregations, study of Scripture and the history and theology of both
churches, and encouraged joint programs of theological discussion,
evangelical outreach and social ministry endeavors.
Rev. Randall R. Lee, director of ecumenical affairs for the ELCA,
acknowledged there had been concern whether Evangelical Lutherans and
United Methodists had different understandings of the Eucharist.
However, after studying the United Methodists’ statement of communion,
"the dialogue concluded that there is a very similar understanding of
Holy Communion," Lee said.
United Methodist statement of communion, titled "This Holy Mystery,"
was adopted by the denomination’s 2004 General Conference, its top
Lee said the dialogue also should benefit conversations with the three historic black Methodist churches.
proposal for Interim Sharing of the Eucharist has been discussed by the
Lutheran-United Methodist Dialogue, theologians of the church and the
Conference of Bishops, said the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding
eucharistic sharing helps us to achieve full communion, but it does not
negate that we may have theological differences," Hanson said. "This
interim step is very helpful, and I urge adoption."
ELCA news media contact: John Brooks, Chicago, (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.elca.org/news.
United Methodist news media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.