ELCIC approves lay communion presiders and preachers

July 22, 201522 juillet 2015

ELCIC approves lay communion presiders and preachers
The new lay ministers will work under the close supervision of a mentoring pastor and will be non-stipendiary. They cannot preside at weddings, funerals or baptisms. Photo: Magdalena Kucova
by Diana Swift, Anglican Journal

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) has voted to authorize temporary lay ministers, under very restricted circumstances, to “proclaim the Word and preside at Holy Communion” in underserved areas.

The ELCIC National Convention, held in Edmonton July 9–12, gave 95% approval to a motion that allows lay persons with “an aptitude for preaching and presiding” to be appointed, after synod-based consultation and due theological formation, in very specific ministry contexts for one-year renewable terms.

ELCIC national bishop Susan Johnson allayed concerns about whether this new departure would have implications for the full-communion relationship between the ELCIC and the Anglican Church of Canada, in effect since 2001.

“A lot of checks and balances have been written into the policy, and I want to assure our sister church that we will live into this responsibly and continue in communication,” said Johnson, who was elected for a third term at the July convention.

The new lay ministers will work under the close supervision of a mentoring pastor and will be non-stipendiary. They cannot preside at weddings, funerals or baptisms and may not wear clerical garb or vestments, although they are permitted to don albs when preaching or presiding at communion. The lay ministers will not be addressed as pastor or any other clerical title reserved for ordained clergy. Nor can they offer pastoral care but must refer individuals in need of counselling to the ordained pastors who mentor the lay ministers themselves.

Specific congregations will be eligible to engage lay ministers only after exhausting standard options such as multi-point parishes, itinerant ministers and clergy-sharing with an ecumenical partner, Anglican, Presbyterian or United church.

Johnson described the new policy as a via media, a compromise to fill the need for sacramental ministry in small congregations that lack regular access to it. “Some in the ELIC might have been opposed to it as not being the norm but understanding the real need, they supported it,” she said. Some convention delegates were even in favour of expanding the lay ministry policy but were voted down, she added.

Highlighting the dearth of clergy in remote areas, Johnson noted that although Saskatchewan has 120 ELCIC congregations, only 35 of them employ clergy at the 25% FTE (full time equivalent) required for registration in the church’s pension fund. “That gives you an idea of what we’re dealing with,” she said.

The ELCIC’s Faith, Order and Doctrine Committee (FOD) began examining the lay ministry issue in 2012, with an Anglican representative taking part in all discussions. In 2014 FOD published its Study Guide on Word and Sacrament Ministry, a resource for exploring the current demographic realities and ways the Lutheran understanding of word, sacrament and ministry might shape future options for providing ministry.

Having passed at National Convention, the new policy will be reviewed and amended as necessary by the ELCIC’s National Church Council, its counterpart to Council of General Synod, the Anglican church’s governing body between General Synods.

In the meantime, two members of the Anglican Church of Canada are preparing a statement on what the new policy will mean for Anglicans. At its meeting this past May, the Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission asked Archdeacon Bruce Myers, the Anglican church’s co-ordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations, to prepare a brief providing background and reflections on the proposal and, if adopted, what it would mean for the ELCIC’s sister church.

Also collaborating on the brief is the Rev. Canon Paul Jennings, priest-in-charge of the parish of Wilmot in the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and former director of pastoral studies at Montreal Diocesan Theological College. He served as the FOD’s Anglican representative from 2012 to 2015. “The brief will likely be ready for distribution in September,” said Myers.

Currently, the Anglican church makes allowance for the distribution of communion by deacons and lay persons. “As with many things, practices vary from diocese to diocese,” Myers said. “Some make extensive use of lay people and deacons for distributing the reserved sacrament in congregations because a priest is not regularly available to preside at a celebration of the eucharist. Others use this option sparingly.”

He referred to the Anglican church’s document Public Distribution of Holy Communion by Deacons and Lay People, which back in1987 already acknowledged the growing gap between Anglicans’ need for regular receipt of holy communion and the availability of ordained priests to conduct full eucharistic celebrations. “Though it was issued in1987, the on-the-ground realities to which it responds have changed little,” Myers said.

Public Distribution concedes that “Our practice of ministry and our theology of church and sacrament will not fit together.” And it points out that the reception of holy communion outside the eucharist has a long tradition going back to the early days of the church when Christians would take home reserved eucharistic bread in order to receive communion during the week or to bring holy communion to the sick and imprisoned.

The document also addresses the need for long- and short-tem solutions, including, in the latter, the public distribution of holy communion by deacons and laypersons when no priest is available to preside at the eucharist. It emphasizes, however, that such distribution of reserved communion is not a substitute for the complex communal meal and many-faceted celebration that is the eucharist.

Posted: July 22, 2015 • Permanent link: https://ecumenism.net/?p=8644 Add a comment
Categories: Anglican JournalIn this article: eucharist, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, full communion, lay presidency
Transmis : 22 juillet 2015 • Lien permanente : https://ecumenism.net/?p=8644 Écrire un commentaire
Catégorie : Anglican JournalDans cet article : eucharist, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, full communion, lay presidency

A move towards unity among Ukrainian Orthodox

July 10, 201510 juillet 2015

A joint meeting of the Committees for Dialogue of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church took place June 8, 2015The number of Orthodox jurisdictions in Ukraine may be about to shrink. Since the end of the Soviet era, the Ukrainian Orthodox churches have been divided into competing jurisdictions and affiliations. Although relations between the groups is somewhat fluid, the recent conflict in eastern Ukraine and Crimea has raised the importance of forming a single indigenous Orthodox church. The coming Pan-Orthodox Council also provides a strong initiative to resolve jurisdictional disputes. The major groups are the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP), and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC). The members of each of these churches are Ukrainian, but the UOC-MP is under the larger jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Moscow. The others have sought recognition from canonical Orthodox churches. In a major development, the Kyivan and Autocephalous churches have agreed to convene a Unification Council or Sobor in September. If all goes well, the two will elect a single primate and establish a permanent Sobor for the new united church.

A joint meeting of representatives from the two churches was held on June 8 at the Kyiv Orthodox Theological Academy at St. Michael’s Monastery in Kyiv. In addition to the delegations from both churches, there were observers from the Ukrainian diaspora as well. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA are both under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. With the approval of Patriarch Bartholomew, Bishops Ilarion and Daniel participated in the discussions about unification and signed the agreement as observers. The observers will also be invited to participate in the unification Sobor on September 15.

Press releases issued by the churches in Canada and the USA celebrated the news as a move towards the eventual establishment of a single Orthodox Church in the Ukraine. … Read more » … À suivre »

Response of Orthodox bishops to US Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage

July 2, 20152 juillet 2015

Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of AmericaThe Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America strongly disagrees with the United States Supreme Court decision of June 26, Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court invents a constitutional right for two members of the same sex to marry, and imposes upon all States the responsibility to license and recognize such “marriages.”

The Supreme Court, in the narrowest majority possible, has overstepped its purview by essentially re-defining marriage itself. It has attempted to settle a polarizing social and moral question through legislative fiat. It is immoral and unjust for our government to establish in law a “right” for two members of the same sex to wed. Such legislation harms society and especially threatens children who, where possible, deserve the loving care of both a father and a mother.

As Orthodox Christian bishops, charged by our Savior Jesus Christ to shepherd His flock, we will continue to uphold and proclaim the teaching of our Lord that marriage, from its inception, is the lifelong sacramental union of a man and a woman. We call upon all Orthodox Christians in our nation to remain firm in their Orthodox faith, and to renew their deep reverence for and commitment to marriage as taught by the Church. We also call upon our nation’s civic leaders to respect the law of Almighty God and uphold the deeply-rooted beliefs of millions of Americans. … Read more » … À suivre »

Pope Francis adds ‘secular Jewish feminist’ Naomi Klein to climate team

July 1, 20151 juillet 2015

Naomi Klein arrived for a news conference at the Vatican on July 1. Photo: AP/Andrew MedichiniIf proof were needed that politics really does make odd bedfellows, the sight of progressive Canadian activist Naomi Klein on a Vatican platform with the pope’s personal spokesman on Wednesday, joining forces in the push for stronger environmental protection, probably provides it.

“This is an alliance on a specific issue, not a merger,” said Klein, who defines herself as a secular Jewish feminist.

“No one is being asked to agree on everything, nor do we agree on everything related to climate change,” she said.

Despite that, she said, the secular left and the Catholic Church can still do business based on Laudato Si’, Francis’ encyclical letter on the environment released in June.

The Canadian activist admitted to surprise at being invited to speak at the Vatican, saying it illustrates a “growing understanding” about environmental concerns that has forged surprising and unlikely partnerships, with people otherwise at loggerheads willing to overcome long-standing differences to work together to “save ourselves.”

“We understand that the stakes are so high, time is so short and the task is so large that we cannot afford to allow those differences to divide us,” Klein said on Wednesday.

Klein’s comments came as she participated in the presentation of an upcoming “high-level” conference she will be co-chairing with Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. … Read more » … À suivre »

The Church of the East: There can be only one

June 30, 201530 juin 2015

Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic ChurchThe most interesting, and potentially most dramatic, ecumenical news this week was the proposal of Patriarch Raphael I (Louis Sako) of Bablyon, head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, who proposed a plan for a united Church of the East that would entail his own resignation.

The schism between the Church of the East and the rest of the orthodox Christian world is the oldest surviving division in the Church, its origins dating back to the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. It was the Christian Church in the Persian Empire, and has often (wrongly) been called Nestorian. Acknowledging that there is now brief way to do justice to the history of communion and schism between the Church of the East and the Catholic/Orthodox Church(es) in the last 1,600 years, suffice it to say that what remains is a very small community based in Baghdad but effectively existing as a diaspora community, with its leaders often in Exile.

There are three current churches succeeding from that original Church of the East, which was founded, according to tradition, by the apostle Thomas and by Mar Addai (Jude/Thaddeus, maybe, or a disciple of Thomas) and Mari, a disciple of Addai. … Read more » … À suivre »

Changing marriage canon would ‘abrade ecclesial trust,’ ARC warns

June 29, 201529 juin 2015

Bishop Donald Bolen and Bishop Linda Nicholls, the Roman Catholic and Anglican co-chairs of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada (ARC). Photo: Salt + Light TVIn a nine-page contribution submitted to the Anglican Church of Canada’s commission on the marriage canon earlier today, the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada (ARC) warns that changing Canon 21 to allow for same-sex marriages would “weaken the very basis of our existing communion, and weaken the foundations upon which we have sought to build towards fuller ecclesial communion.”

The contribution, produced at the request of the Anglican church, acknowledges that while great changes have taken place in the broader cultural understanding of marriage in North America in recent years, “Roman Catholics are left to wonder what has changed, such that our previous common understanding of marriage is left in doubt.”

The commission on the marriage canon, established by Council of General Synod in the fall of 2013, was created in response to a resolution approved at General Synod earlier that year to bring a motion concerning same-sex marriage to its next meeting in 2016. The commission’s mandate is to carry out a “broad consultation” within the church in preparation for the motion, and part of this consultation has involved seeking opinions from ecumenical partners such as the Roman Catholic Church. … Read more » … À suivre »

United Church of Christ affirms full communion with United Church of Canada

June 29, 201529 juin 2015

The communion table at the United Church of Christ General Synod in Cleveland with the two churches' crestsDelegates to the United Church of Christ 2015 General Synod in Cleveland on Monday morning unanimously approved an amendment to recognize a full communion between the United Church of Christ and The United Church of Canada. The union fulfills the promise the churches made to one another in 2013. “Let us dare to dream of the unexpected places we might discover as Uniting and United Churches in North America,” said Karen Georgia Thompson, United Church of Christ minister for ecumenical and interfaith relations, echoing the theme of General Synod 30 in Cleveland June 25-30.

Passage of the amendment on June 29 drew a sustained 45-second applause from delegates, some of whom stood and cheered. For the Rev. Michael Denton – United Church of Christ Executive Board member and Conference Minister of the Pacific Northwest Conference – the vote was cause for celebration. “We share significant borders with Canada,” said Denton, whose conference comprises Washington state, Northern Idaho and Alaska. “This is an opportunity for a cross-border-sharing ministry. Some United Church of Christ churches are closer to Canada than any other United Church of Christ churches.” … Read more » … À suivre »