Primate encourages Lutherans to imagine bold step together

“What bold step can our churches take together?” Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) asked delegates at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s (ELCIC) National Convention to consider during an evening Bible study on June 25. The Bible study is the first of three Bible studies taking place throughout the convention, which is being held June 25 to 28 in Vancouver, B.C.

The Primate led delegates through Luke 4:16-21, where Jesus reads parts of Isaiah aloud in a Nazareth synagogue. It begins, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.”

Archbishop Hiltz said the text sets out a framework for mission, and he encouraged delegates to describe how they saw related signs of hope in their congregations. Then he challenged them to imagine the next “bold step” that ACC and ELCIC could take in their mission together.

ELCIC and ACC have been in a full communion relationship since the Waterloo Declaration of 2001. The declaration outlines how the two denominations are similar and allows for clergy to lead each other’s churches. Confirmations have been mutually recognized since 1995.

Both Archbishop Hiltz and ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson have worked to deepen cooperation between Anglicans and Lutherans since they were elected leaders in 2007. They organized a joint meeting of their churches’ management teams and a joint meeting of relief and development staff. Their churches also work cooperatively through KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives and the Canadian Council of Churches.

Already the churches have started to collaborate. Archbishop Hiltz and Bishop Johnson have written joint letters on issues of poverty and homelessness. They also issued joint Easter and Christmas webcasts, including a “blooper” reel showing their personal connection, fostered in monthly check-in phone calls.

“We were elected on the same day and we began our work on the same day,” Bishop Johnson told the convention. “It has been incredibly helpful to me to have someone to share joys and miseries and struggles with.” Archbishop Hiltz said the same was true for him.

Archbishop Hiltz asked delegates to write down and share their ideas for “bold steps.” He will review and forward them on in time for the next meeting of the Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission, which he previously co-chaired.

Anglican presence is strong at this Twelfth Biennial ELCIC National Convention. Archbishop Hiltz is attending as a special guest, and Anglican Bishop Colin Johnson of the Diocese of Toronto is attending as a member of the National Church Council. Two ACC staff–Web Manager Brian Bukowski and Web Writer Ali Symons—have also been seconded to help out with convention communications.

In her report to convention, Bishop Johnson described several joint projects with the ACC. In July 2008 she attended the Lambeth Conference, the meeting of all Anglican bishops in the Anglican Communion. As well, in September 2008 she and Archbishop Hiltz led an Ottawa, Ont. march in support of the Millennium Development Goals.

Over 400 Lutherans are meeting in Vancouver at the ELCIC’s National Convention. Full agenda details and a live link to the proceeding are available on the National Convention website.

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