ELCA Bishops Hear Presiding Bishop-Elect’s Support for Ecumenism

 — Oct. 11, 200111 oct. 2001

CHICAGO (ELCA) — In a report to the Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop-elect, said he is “deeply committed” to ecumenical cooperation globally. However, he left open the possibility of revisiting the church’s 10-year-old ecumenical statement, noting that a change in leadership is a good time to ask questions.

“We need to step back, appreciate it, if not change it,” Hanson said, as he held a copy of “Ecumenism: The Vision of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.” The policy statement was adopted by the 1991 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. It commits the ELCA to pursue the goal of full communion and has formed the basis for the adoption of full communion agreements in the 1990s with five churches: The Episcopal Church, USA, the Moravian Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Reformed Church in America and United Church of Christ.

Hanson led a session on ecumenical relationships Oct. 8 as part of the bishops’ meeting here Oct. 4-9. The Conference of Bishops is an advisory body of the church’s 65 synod bishops, ELCA presiding bishop and ELCA secretary.

When Hanson assumes the role of presiding bishop Nov. 1 there will be an interim director in the ELCA Department for Ecumenical Affairs. The Rev. Jon S. Enslin, former bishop of the ELCA South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, will serve a six-month term as interim director. He succeeds the Rev. Daniel F. Martensen, director and assistant to the presiding bishop, who will retire Oct. 31.

“This is the time to ask questions about the next steps in our ecumenical work,” Hanson said to the bishops. “We have limited energy, limited resources, but it is essential that we give focus to that.” Hanson said he hoped the church could be “imaginative” in the next few months about its ecumenical work.

Martensen and the Rev. H. George Anderson, ELCA presiding bishop, will always be associated with the ELCA’s ecumenical advancements, Hanson said. Hanson, who was installed here Oct. 6, said he felt the presence of the ELCA ecumenical relationships at that event.

Anderson will conclude his six-year term as presiding bishop Oct. 31.

Preceding Hanson’s comments, Martensen offered some final reflections to the bishops on the ELCA’s ecumenical and interfaith work.


“Much is yet to be done,” he said. “Many tasks need to be taken, numerous challenges faced.”

In his report, Martensen cited six ecumenical tasks for the church: implementing full communion relationships; continuing bilateral dialogue processes; emphasizing reception of ecumenical advances; engaging churches involved in Churches Uniting in Christ; helping to coordinate cooperative work among Christian World Communions through and with members of the Lutheran World Federation; and deepening interfaith relations.

The name of the department should be changed to the “Department for Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs” in the near future, Martensen recommended. Such a change would indicate the scope of the department’s work and conform more closely to the names of similar departments in other churches, he said.

Martensen also cited six challenges for the church in his report to the bishops: attention and sensitivity to voices reflecting tension and conflict in the church, confronting and working to transcend the current crisis in conciliar ecumenism, addressing a multicultural and multi-religious society, addressing the institutionalized theological seminary “silo” mentality affecting training of clergy, bringing ecumenical immersion experiences to new generations, and re-examining and perhaps changing our “self-understanding” as church.

Martensen thanked Anderson and the synod bishops for their support and ecumenical work during his tenure.

In a brief discussion that followed, the Rev. Peter Rogness, bishop of the ELCA Greater Milwaukee Synod, said he would support a review of the church’s ecumenical document because relationships may have changed.

“The fact that we are at different points with different church bodies makes it germane for us to look at that again,” he said.

The Rev. Paul J. Blom, bishop of the ELCA Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, Houston, said he would appreciate development of a policy statement on interfaith relations, similar to the ecumenical document adopted in 1991.

Posted: Oct. 11, 2001 • Permanent link: ecumenism.net/?p=4789
Categories: ELCA News
Transmis : 11 oct. 2001 • Lien permanente : ecumenism.net/?p=4789
Catégorie : ELCA News

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