Since 2010 it has been the habit of the four primates of the Anglican/Episcopal and Lutheran churches in full communion in the US & Canada to meet together. Last week marked Presiding Bishop Curry’s first meeting with the other three primates as they gathered at the church headquarters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Chicago IL. The other three primates are Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Church in America, Archbishop Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada and national Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
During the informal meeting, the bishops discussed a number of issues which touch all four national churches. 1) They prepared for the future issuing of a joint letter for Ash Wednesday 2017 centering on immigration and refugees. 2) They shared the idea of inviting a guest presenter to their future meetings to share a specific topic relevant to their four churches. 3) They agreed to the importance of jointly lifting up important dates/events of the two denominations world bodies, the Anglican Communion and the World Lutheran Federation. 4) They discussed having their future meetings begin with a quiet morning together as they each unwind from busy schedules and prepare for a profitable meeting with each other. Additionally, Archbishop Hiltz presented an update of the Anglican Church of Canada General Synod and the four shared the reports on the progress of the two Anglican-Lutheran ecumenical bodies in Canada and the US; the Joint Commission for Anglican-Lutheran Communion in Canada and the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee.
Most immediately important to all four churches, the primates completed a set of devotionals for Advent 2016. Each of the primates wrote a devotional for one of the Sundays of Advent. The devotionals, Liberated by God’s Grace, took as their starting point, next year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation. All four churches grew out of the 16th Century Reformation and a subtheme is that “salvation, human beings, and creation are not for sale.” This Advent resource is appropriate for use as a bulletin/program insert, on a church website or as a classroom devotional & discussion.
To introduce the devotionals, the primates issued a joint letter;
October 31, 2016
All this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ,
and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
– II Corinthians 5: 18
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ:
Today in Lund, Sweden, the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church will inaugurate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. After five hundred years of division, and 50 years of dialogue, Lutherans and Catholics will publicly remember their history, and look to the future—together. For the first time, a centennial anniversary of the Reformation will take place in a spirit of reconciliation, for the whole world to see. In our broken world, this ministry of reconciliation is a faithful response to the love of God in Jesus Christ.
As churches shaped by the 16th century reformations—the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Episcopal Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—we also participate in this ministry of reconciliation. Over fifteen years ago, our churches’ respective full communion agreements inaugurated new relationships in which we fully recognized each other “as churches in which the gospel is truly preached and the holy sacraments duly administered” (Called to Common Mission), an achievement that “marks but one step toward the eventual visible unity of the whole Church catholic” (Waterloo Declaration). We are committed to working together toward reconciliation—of the church, and of the deepest social ills that plague our world. It is our hope, together with you, to be signs of anticipation—of the “already, but not yet” of God’s realm of reconciliation, justice, and peace.
In this spirit we have prepared a series of devotions for the season of Advent, which may be used as bulletin inserts. The Lutheran World Federation’s 500th anniversary theme and sub-themes provided a fitting framework: We are “liberated by God’s grace” and affirm that “salvation, human beings, and creation are not for sale.” The devotions can be downloaded from each of our churches’ websites, and shared broadly. May our prayers united be a modest but hopeful sign of what our churches can do together as we bear witness to the One who first reconciled himself to us.
The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz Primate Anglican Church of Canada
The Rev. Susan C. Johnson National Bishop Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton Presiding Bishop Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry Presiding Bishop Episcopal Church (United States)
The devotionals are now available for download at the respective church website;
Main photo – (L-R:) Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, primate of The Episcopal Church; National Bishop Susan Johnson, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, at their meeting in Chicago last week. Photo: Will Nunnally/ELCA.