ELCA Assembly Receives Greetings From Full Communion Partners

8/11/2005 12:00:00 AM

     ORLANDO, Fla. (ELCA) -- The five full communion partners of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) brought
official greetings to the 2005 Churchwide Assembly, each
expressing gratitude and blessings for the deepening ecumenical
relationships that have developed.
     The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of
the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 8-14 at the World Center Marriott
and Convention Center.  About 2,300 people are participating,
including 1,018 ELCA voting members.  The theme for the biennial
assembly is "Marked with the Cross of Christ Forever."

     "The full communion partnership is enriching the lives of
congregations and indeed our denominational structure and
programs," said the Rev. Robert Sawyer, president of the Moravian
     He spoke of how the partnership has moved the denomination
to engage in "fruitful conversations with the Episcopal Church
and the Reformed churches," also full communion partners with the
     "We value our ties with the ELCA," he said.  "You have found
favor with God."

     Robina Winbush, ecumenical officer of the Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.) who represented that church, the Reformed Church
in America and the United Church of Christ in her greetings, also
spoke of how the full communion partnership with the ELCA had
influenced their other ecumenical efforts.
     "Because you are in communion with the Moravians, we are
moved to learn what we can from them," she told the ELCA
     Speaking to the fruits of the full communion partnership,
Winbush said, "We give thanks to God that we are able to share
pastors one with another.  We give thanks to God for the many
congregations who are finding ways to worship and work together.
And we look forward to 2007 and the joint multicultural
conference of our four churches."
     Both Winbush and Sawyer spoke of the difficulties of being
an aging church, a church divided over social issues, and of
declining membership as common issues between the denominations.

     Thomas Ferguson, associate deputy for ecumenical and
interfaith relations of the Episcopal Church, drew applause from
the assembly as he spoke of how he was influenced by "the great
Lutheran theologians, Davey and Goliath - the [Martin] Luther and
[Philip] Melanchthon of my generation, Generation X."
     He went on to give thanks for "the movement of the Spirit
between our two communions.  Our relationship is one driven by
our mission together," he said.
     Like previous speakers, Ferguson also addressed current
common struggles facing the two denominations.
     "We stand in solidarity as both our churches face difficult
questions on evangelism and matters of sexuality.  Like you, we
are not all of one mind," he said.  "We hold this relationship to
be all the more important because of our struggles.  Know that we
are praying for you."
     Information on the full communion partnerships can be found
online at www.ELCA.org/ecumenical.
     Information about the ELCA Churchwide Assembly is at http://www.elca.org/assembly/05 on the Web.

For more information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or news@elca.org


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