By Michael Gryboski , Christian Post Reporter
February 25, 2016|7:43 am

acna assembly(Photo: ACNA)

Three theologically conservative church bodies released a report championing progress in their latest round of ecumenical dialogue.

Representatives from the Anglican Church in North America, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and the Lutheran Church-Canada have been engaging in an ongoing dialogue for the past six years.

Titled "On Closer Acquaintance", the interim report on ecumenical dialogue charts the progress made thus far on conversations between ACNA, LCMS, and LCC.

"The report is intended as an aid for ACNA folk wishing to get a deeper understanding of their counterparts in LCMS–LCC and vice versa, and as a resource that will help us determine the nature and goals of our relationship in the years ahead," reads the report.

"In the process we hope that both sides will become convinced of the width and depth of the common ground we share in doctrine, liturgy, hymnody, devotional resources, and Christian life. At the same time, we anticipate the development of an informed awareness of the areas in which significant differences still divide us."

LCMS Praesidium(Photo: LCMS / Kris Bueltmann)LCMS Praesidium: Dr. Scott R. Murray; Rev. Daniel Preus; President Matthew C. Harrison; Rev. Herbert C. Mueller; and Dr. John C. Wohlrabe. (Dr. Paul L. Maier not pictured.)

In a statement released Tuesday, ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach stressed the theological commonalities of the three confessing bodies.

"In a time when so many churches are departing from the teachings of the Bible, it has been refreshing to see the stand for Scriptural Truth that is being made by The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Lutheran Church-Canada," stated Archbishop Beach.

"We agree on the essentials of the Faith, and share a common desire to evangelize North America with the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Archbishp Beach said in comments sent to The Christian Post by a spokesperson of the three churches that the dialogue both involved "common ground ... while not papering over differences between our two churches."

"One of the most challenging tasks in front of us is exploring how each of our churches 'orders' its ministers. As churches, we enter this discussion at very different places," said Beach.

"The Anglican Church in North America, we see the ministry of word and sacrament in the church carried forward through bishops, priests, and deacons in apostolic succession ... Lutherans emphasize the work of ordained ministry as a single office, that of pastor."

The 14-page "On Closer Acquaintance" outlines several points of doctrinal commonality between Anglicans and Lutherans, including but not exclusive to the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, the divine inspiration of the Holy Bible, original sin, justification, and baptism.

"All of us are somewhat surprised to have discovered the deep common bonds between us in the Body of Christ, and to have registered the large measure of consensus that we have documented above," read the conclusion.

"We regard these things that we have discovered together as a gift of the Lord, and trust Him to use our findings to His glory and to the good of the universal Church."

LCC President Robert Bugbee said in a statement that during the dialogue no one "reached for easy compromises, nor did anyone paper over matters that needed to be fully worked through on the basis of God's Word."

"Biblical Christians throughout North America face many pressures, not only with the secularization of our society, but also because of the doctrinal decay and revisionism in much of mainline Christianity," continued Bugbee.

"We thank the Lord for the commitment of our Anglican friends, and ask Him to use our witness to hold Christ the Saviour out to people all around us."