For the second time in history of our churches—the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Church in Canada—delegates will gather together for fellowship, worship, Bible study, and conversation. This year it will happen in Calgary from June 27-July 2. Both churches will also meet on their own during that time for legislative matters and for elections, but there will be considerable time as Assembly. The theme for the Assembly is “Let There be Greening.”
Our churches have been in full communion since 2001 when in Waterloo, ON, the National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada both approved the agreement. Many of us have, imprinted on our hearts and minds, the joy-filled concluding service where the agreement was signed and where the Primate of the Anglican Church, Michael Peers, and the Presiding Bishop of the Lutheran Church, Telmor Sartison, danced in the recession as the worship concluded with “We are Marching in the Light of God!”
It was a time of great celebration and great promise. And our full communion relationship has more than lived up to that promise as we have met and engaged in ministry together over the last 22 years, and as the relationship between our two churches has grown and deepened. Our respective executive bodies have a member from the other Church. We uphold each other in prayer regularly. There are ministries where Anglican and Lutheran communities share facilities or programs or worship, where they share priests, pastors and/or deacons, ministries where a community is served by a priest, pastor or deacon of the full-communion partner and merged or combined communities.
Rejoicing in the richness of our relationship and building on it, this summer both churches will consider a motion to approve full communion with the Moravian Church in North America, as laid out in a document entitled, “One Flock, One Shepherd: Lutherans, Anglicans, and Moravians – Called to Walk Together in Full Communion.” This will further enlarge the circle of ministry and cooperation among our churches and follow the lead of other agreements around the Communion, including between the Church of England and the Moravian Church in Great Britain, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church in North America (1999) and between these provinces of the Moravian Church and the US-based Episcopal Church.
There may not be, across our country, as many Moravian churches as there are Lutheran ones, or as many opportunities for cooperation as there are with the Lutheran Church but a full communion agreement is still a powerful, visible sign of the unity for which Jesus prayed.
The theme, “Let There be Greening,” speaks of our call to care for our creation, something which is becoming increasingly urgent as our planet faces this climate crisis. But it can also speak to the promise of new life and hope that comes when we minister together as fellow servants of God.