Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran Heads Mark Unity Week with Joint Service

NEW YORK – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA) elevated the role of Scriptures at a special service held during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and celebrated their communion with the Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the ELCA, addressed more than 200 Lutherans and Episcopalians last week at Saint Peter's Lutheran Church in Manhattan.

Today's times are filled with challenges for Christians, Hanson said, and they are best embraced by "our understanding of the authority and interpretation of the Scriptures.”

"With confidence, humility and courage, let us face these daunting challenges in God's mission for the life of the world," he added.

The service, held on Jan. 18, celebrated the relationship between the Episcopal Church and the ECLA. Presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Rev. Frank T. Griswold, gave thanks to God for the five-year-old agreement between the ELCA and Episcopal Church that established full communion. The agreement opened the way for cooperative mission efforts between the churches and mutual recognition of ordained ministers in cooperative ministry.

"I'm here with joy and delight to give thanks to God for being 'Called to Common Mission,'" said Hanson.

In his sermon, the ELCA head gave examples of cooperative ministry that developed since "Called to Common Mission" was adopted. He said the ELCA and the Episcopal Church were working together in education, campus ministry, disaster response, social ministry and in individual congregations among other ministries.

Last Wednesday’s ecumenical service was also the annual commemoration of William Reed Huntington, who was rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Manhattan and author of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888 – a document that laid the groundwork for ecumenical dialogue between the Episcopal Church and other Christian church bodies.

Several top leaders of both church bodies in New York participated in the service, including the Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan New York Synod. After the service worshippers gathered for a question-and-answer session with Hanson.