General Conference 2008: UMs, Lutherans Look Toward Cooperation

May 04, 2008

(UMNS) General Conference approved a full communion agreement with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Under full communion, the two churches recognize the authenticity of each other's baptism and Eucharist and the full interchangeability of all ordained ministers.


The ELCA will vote on the full communion agreement with UMs at its assembly in August 2009.


Bishop Gregory Palmer, president of the Council of Bishops, noted many UMs and Lutherans have working relationships at the local level. "We'll be giving, in some sense, a formal expression to what is happening on the ground already," he said.


As part of the General Conference's traditional ecumenical day, observed on April 29, ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson preached for morning worship and introduced a number of ecumenical guests from other denominations, faith groups, and organizations. Hanson hopes the arrangement will foster an "ecumenical imagination," focusing on how to do things together rather than separately.


The United Methodist Church also has been working with the Episcopal Church toward the full recognition of ministries.


The decision for full communion with the ELCA was "a miracle," said Bishop Frank Brookhart, who serves as co-chairman of the UM-Episcopal dialogue. "It's real easy for churches to separate. It's real hard to get back together," he explained. "This doesn't happen without the risen Christ among us."


The ELCA already has a full communion agreement with the Episcopal Church, while the UMC has just entered an interim agreement with that denomination.


At this year's Annual Conference Session for the California-Nevada Conference, June 17-21, the Suffragan Bishop of the Los Angeles Diocese of the Episcopal Church, The Right Reverend Chester Lovelle Talton, D.D., will preach the ordination sermon and will join Cal-Nevada Bishop Beverly J. Shamana in ordaining the Elders and Deacons. That service is scheduled for Saturday, June 21 at 3:30 p.m.