The Northern Province of the Moravian Church, which represents the northern half of the full body of Moravians in the United States voted last night to approve the full communion agreement that the Episcopal Church approved last summer in Anaheim.
The Southern Province will take up the matter at their Synod in September. The Southern Province and the Northern Province make such decisions in an independent manner. Both decisions will ultimately need to be affirmed by the international body of the Unitas Fratrum which will meet next in 2012.
The Episcopal News Service includes this reflection by the Rev. Thomas Ferguson, the interim deputy to the Presiding Bishop for Ecumenical affairs:
"The Moravian vote ended a day that began with the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, telling the Episcopal Church's Executive Council that the communion's ecumenical dialogues 'are at the point of collapse' because of the church's decision to ordain as bishop an openly gay and partnered priest for the second time.
Ferguson said 'this dialogue with the Moravian Church shows that we can continue to move forward when our focus is on mission and ministry together, and agreeing to disagree on things that we don't believe are church-dividing.'
He noted that the Moravian Church does not allow service by openly gay and lesbian members but that the church's international body, the Unitas Fratrum, has said the issue is not a doctrinal matter.
'In this dialogue we have just agreed to disagree on that and we have further said that we do not believe this is an obstacle to full communion between our two churches,' Ferguson said. 'We can have different polity on this matter and still move forward because of the opportunities for joint mission and ministry that we see.'"
Read the full story here.