February 14-17, 2002
Participants in the United Methodist Church (UMC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) bilateral dialogue met February 14-17, 2002, in Orlando, Florida. This was the second meeting of the third round of ELCA/UMC dialogues. Discussion centered on baptism and the Lord's Supper. The two church bodies have these sacraments in common, and are the only rites considered sacraments by these church bodies. Baptism is understood to be the entry into church life; the Lord's Supper is the regular gathering around the holy meal for faith communities.
Participants found significant agreement among the churches' history and doctrinal teaching. The sacraments will continue to be a central topic for future meetings. The dialogue also will explore sanctification, justification, and ministry. The UMC is comprised of 10 million baptized members in the United States and around the world; the ELCA is comprised of 5.1 million baptized members in the United States and the Caribbean. The dialogue will reconvene in September 2002 in Chicago.
United Methodists participating in the dialogue are Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, co-chair, of Nashville; Rev. Lars-Erik Nordby of Norway; Rev. Dr. Amy Laura Hall of Duke Divinity School; Dr. Jean Miller-Schmidt, Iliff School of Theology; and Ms. Judith Crain, Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the Rev. Dr. Paul Chilcote, Asbury Seminary. Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are Bishop Allan C. Bjornberg, co-chair, of Denver; Dr. Kathryn L. Johnson, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary; Rev. Dr. H. Frederick Reisz Jr., Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary; Dr. Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda, the Graduate School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University; and Rev. Dr. Timothy J. Wengert, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Staff members for the dialogue are the Rev. Betty Gamble, Associate General Secretary, General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligous Concerns, UMC, and the Rev. Paul A. Schreck, Associate for Bilateral Dialogues, ELCA.