ELCA Presiding Bishop Meets Archbishop of Canterbury

 — Mar. 31, 200331 mars 2003

LONDON, England (ELCA) — The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), expressed hope that the ELCA may one day enter into full communion with Anglican churches with whom other Lutheran churches are in full communion. Hanson made the comment to the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, and other Anglican and ELCA leaders in a luncheon address here March 28.

Hanson and 18 other ELCA leaders, bishops, Church Council members, pastors, staff and members met here with Church of England, Anglican Communion and Lutheran leaders. The ELCA group is traveling with Hanson as he meets international church leaders in Europe during a 17-day “ecumenical journey.”

Williams, 52, became Archbishop of Canterbury when he was elevated to the role in a ceremonial worship service known as “enthronement,” Feb. 27 at Canterbury Cathedral. He succeeded the Most Rev. George L. Carey, who served as archbishop for 12 years.

Anglicans, through the Church of England, have entered into several ecumenical agreements with Lutheran churches, including the 1991 Meissen Declaration with Lutheran churches in Germany; the 1992 Porvoo Declaration, involving several Lutheran churches in Scandinavia and Baltic regions; and the 1999 Reuilly Declaration with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France.

Anglicans and Lutherans in Canada entered into an ecumenical agreement, the Waterloo Declaration, in 2001. In the United States, the 1999 ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted a full communion agreement with the Episcopal Church, a member of the Anglican Communion. The agreement, known as “Called to Common Mission (CCM),” was adopted one year later by the Episcopal Church convention. CCM encouraged the churches to engage in a variety of shared ministries, including the possibility of exchange of clergy under certain circumstances.

In his address, Hanson said he made the trip to greet Williams personally as he begins his new role. He expressed the concern of Lutherans in North America that all who believe in Jesus Christ “be empowered by the Holy Spirit to seek healing of the divisions within the Church.”

The ELCA is an ecumenical church, Hanson said. He pointed to the church’s 1991 statement on ecumenism that said the church “understands itself and engages in God’s mission as a church that is evangelical, that is catholic, and that is ecumenical,” Hanson said, quoting from the statement. “Our agreement with the Episcopal Church has led to our bishops being installed into the historic succession of bishops, and as a result we are finding new and exciting ways of doing mission together,” Hanson said.

The churches are involved in a time of “reception,” in which members of both churches are becoming acquainted and building ministries together.

“We are seeing in this time of reception the great manifestations not only of witness that comes by those agreements, but by enhancing God’s work in the world,” Hanson said. “We are delighted with that, and continue to commit ourselves to that time of reception.”

“Our relations as an Anglican communion with Lutherans worldwide are now very, very, very rich, and very rewarding,” Williams said at the luncheon. He said it was “a joy” that both churches are moving forward in conversations “which, in some ways, history interrupted earlier in the centuries of our existence as churches.”

Williams said Lutherans worldwide have been involved with one of the most “testing and creative theological dialogues,” with the Roman Catholic Church on the subject of justification. The Lutheran World Federation, of which the ELCA is a member, and The Vatican reached a common understanding on the issue with the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in 1999.

Hanson thanked Williams and the staffs of the Anglican Communion and the Church of England for welcoming the ELCA leaders and said the ELCA “has great admiration for your leadership.” He presented Williams with a framed mosaic of the ELCA emblem.

“It’s an enormous pleasure to have the delegation here, because I think that our relation as Anglicans and Lutherans across the world is developing very, very rapidly,” Williams said in an interview. “We have a common history [and] we have common origins.”

“I’m delighted at all the progress made in the United States, with the Baltic and Nordic churches and with the German churches, in understanding between our two traditions,” he said. “I welcome this very deeply.”

The most important way Lutherans and Anglicans can grow in fellowship is prayer, he said. “I think if we can put together occasions in which Anglicans and Lutherans can share in retreats and reflection in silence together, that is bound to deepen things,” Williams said. “I think, too, if we can go on working on our sense of how the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist (Holy Communion), is at the heart of all we do, then we shall understand what we’re about as churches.”

Engaging in theological discussions about communion “is one of the most exciting things Christians can do,” he added.


“Our hearts are heavy laden as the world again experiences the tragedy of war,” Hanson said of the war that has pitted a coalition led by U.S. and British military forces against the Iraqi military.

“I am personally delighted with your stance opposing war in Iraq, a conviction on that issue that parallels mine,” Hanson said in his remarks to Williams. “I am grateful that so early in your ministry you were willing to speak with such clarity and boldness.”

The ELCA’s resolve to work for peace remains strong and prayers for peace are “fervent,” Hanson said. “May the deepening of our unity in Christ reflect our commitment to God’s will for peace for the whole creation.”

Noting that this time in global history is “shadowed and overclouded,” Williams said, “It’s also important for us to know how in prayer and thought we stand together against those things which most deeply threaten our global future.” As Christians prepare for Easter, Williams said, “It’s good to remember what gospel it is that we have to proclaim under a night sky.”

“My main concern is that whatever comes on the far side of this war is something which is fully, internationally owned, which honors international law,” Williams said. “I think some of the most pressing work we have to do in the near future is something which has to do with international law, the restoration of the credibility of some of those international institutions.”

It’s important that the reconstruction of Iraq be “owned” by as many countries as possible. He warned of the danger of “a new imperial situation,” or the perception of such a situation.

“My main hope is that we will look with quite critical eyes at some of the gaps in the international system that have led us where we are, and be able to mend those in the future,” he added.

Williams presented Hanson with a recent Anglican anthology on the “quest for holiness,” edited by three Anglican bishops.

Posted: Mar. 31, 2003 • Permanent link: ecumenism.net/?p=4801
Categories: ELCA News
Transmis : 31 mars 2003 • Lien permanente : ecumenism.net/?p=4801
Catégorie : ELCA News

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