ELCA, Moravian Church observe 15th anniversary of full communion agreement

7/31/2015 11:30:00 AM

​     CHICAGO (ELCA) – This year marks the 15th anniversary of the full communion agreement between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Moravian Church in America. The agreement was adopted by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 1999 and subsequently by the Northern and Southern provinces of the Moravian Church in America the following year. The full communion agreement is outlined in the document “Following Our Shepherd to Full Communion.”
     “It has been a privilege and a joy to be part of a growing love for one another as sisters and brothers in Christ, and a growing desire to follow our Shepherd together as we journey in full communion,” said Kathryn M. Lohre, executive for ELCA ecumenical and inter-religious relations.
     Together with the Rev. Chris Thore of the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in America, Lohre provides staff support to the Lutheran-Moravian Coordinating Committee, which held its annual meeting July 27-29 at the Moravian Summer Camp and Retreat Center in Laurel Ridge, N.C.
     “On the sacred ground of the mountain, we were able to look back on our shared history and also to look forward together to where God is calling us in the next 15 years and beyond,” Lohre said. “We give thanks to God for the many gifts which have brought this partnership to the place it is today and to all those that will nurture, sustain and grow it into the future.”
     “Our Moravian forbearers would be pleased to see the results of the Lutheran-Moravian Coordinating Committee’s work over the past 15 years and would anticipate with great joy the work that we look forward to in the years ahead,” said the Rev. Kelly Moore, co-chair of the Lutheran-Moravian Coordinating Committee and co-pastor at Fries Memorial Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.
     Full communion is not a merger between denominations. It is a relationship based on common confessing of the Christian faith and mutual recognition of baptism and sharing of the Lord’s Supper. The churches worship together and may exchange clergy.
     One example of the Lutheran-Moravian joint ministry can be found in Wilmington, N.C., where the Rev. Rachel Connelly, an ELCA pastor, serves two congregations – Water of Life Lutheran Church and Covenant Moravian Church.
     “I have seen the Lutheran-Moravian partnership open lines of communication that led the way to deeper relationships and subsequently prompted leaders to put aside uncertainty about doing ministry together. The results have been joyous and impressive,” said the Rev. Samuel R. Zeiser, bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod and a member of the coordinating committee.
     In addition to the Moravian Church in America, the ELCA is in full communion with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), the Reformed Church in America, the United Church of Christ, The Episcopal Church and The United Methodist Church.
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of “God's work. Our hands,” the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Candice Hill Buchbinder
773-380-2877 or Candice.HillBuchbinder@ELCA.org
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