Friday, May 20, 2016

“Hazy Hopes Taking Clear Incarnations”

The Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee met in Marriottsville, Maryland, May 9-11, 2016. This Committee is charged with encouraging and assisting efforts in The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) as they live into their relationship of full communion provided for in “Called to Common Mission.” This meeting included visits to three joint Lutheran Episcopal ministries in addition to discussions of ongoing implementation of CCM.

“The hazy hopes for CCM that we had at the beginning have taken clear incarnations. We saw this today.” This evaluation was expressed after the Committee visited three very different local ministries established during the last three years with the support of the Delaware-Maryland Synod of the ELCA and the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland:

  • The Churches of the Nativity and the Holy Comforter, “An Episcopal Lutheran Community in Baltimore,” The Rev. Stewart Lucas, Episcopal Rector, and the Rev. David Eisenhuth, Lutheran Pastor
  • The Church on the Square, Canton, Maryland, “a post-denominational community church,” The Rev. James Hamilton, Pastoral Missioner, and John Deason, Development Missioner;
  • First English Lutheran Church (sponsor), the “Slate Project,” Baltimore MD (and on the web,, Co-founders the Rev. Jason Chesnut, the Rev. Jennifer DiFrancesco, the Rev. Sara Shisler Goff.
The Committee discussed recent encouragements from a number of sources for the churches of the three (full) communion agreements to find ways to move into closer relation. This discussion was prompted in part by a letter from JALC, the Committee’s partner in Canada. The Committee encouraged the Chair to respond warmly to the invitation of JALC to work together on this project and to communicate to them this resolution:

The Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee receives with gladness the October 5, 2015, letter from the Joint Anglican Lutheran Commission;

And requests that ecumenical staff of our churches continue work toward mutual acknowledgement of (full) communion relationships among the churches of the Porvoo Agreement, Called to Common Mission, and the Waterloo Declaration.

A report will be given at the next LECC meeting.

In addition, the Committee discussed a range of topics around its mandate. As Bishop Kreiss reminded the members, “we are given the care and nurture of an agreement that is of critical importance for the work of the gospel going forward in our churches. This is the path to which the Holy Spirit has called us. Our job is to help both of our traditions think creatively about what is possible and what is faithful, as we work to insure that the level of trust and intimacy between our church bodies continues to deepen. Fifteen years into CCM, we can see that this is no longer an experiment but the future of both of our churches.”

The Committee discussed ways to celebrate the 15th anniversary of CCM, challenges and opportunities for joint ministries and how to support them, creating standard guidelines and FAQs for the use of churches considering joint ministries and making the resources more accessible.

The Committee will meet next in Chicago, February 8-10 2017. Dates will be explored with JALC for a joint meeting, with times proposed during the week of November 27 - December 1, 2017.

Members of the Committee:

ELCA: Bishop Donald Kreiss (Lutheran co-chair), Rev. Lowell Almen, Dr. Mitze Budde, Bishop Claire Burkat, Rev. Natalie Hall
TEC: The Rev. Kay Beach, the Rev. Jon Perez
Staff: Dr. Kathryn Johnson (ELCA), Rev. Dr. Charles Robertson, the Rev. Margaret Rose (TEC)

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