July 2005 marked four exciting years since the historic ratification of the Waterloo Declaration in which full communion continues to be enthusiastically advanced between our two church bodies across Canada. Currently, there are some two dozen co-operative Anglican-Lutheran ministries in one form or another, each of which not only presents its own unique challenge, but is also an opportunity to strengthen and expand our joint ministries.
A newly amalgamated Anglican-Lutheran congregation known as Trinity Church, for instance, was formed March 28, 2004 in Port Alberni Valley, B.C. Former All Saints Anglican and St. Alban/Christ the King (already a previously combined Anglican/Lutheran parish in 2000) were roughly equal in size and income, but neither had the “critical mass” to reach their potential. On the heels of the sale of All Saints’ building, Trinity has become much more effective in meeting congregational and community needs. Served by Anglican Minister Dianne Tomalin, the people of Trinity share in and learn from their respective church traditions and, in fact, have become a constructive and affirming model of merging ministries across Canada.
Jim Halmarson, a Lutheran, serves as the rector of Christ Church Anglican in Saskatoon, a congregation that will be celebrating its centenary in 2007.Having commenced ministry last March, Pastor Jim is discovering the many cheers and challenges in a mission-redevelopment ministry, as Christ Church is located in a “‘gentrifying’/transitional and diverse neighbourhood,” as he puts it. As pastor of this parish, “it is a role I eagerly look forward to”—not to mention the fact that his Anglican parishioners are “tickled pink” to have the husband of the Saskatchewan synod bishop, Cindy Halmarson, serve them.
Another joint ministry is Holy Cross Lutheran Mission in Orillia, Ont., which utilizes space at the Orillia South parishes of St. Athanasius and St. David’s. “A major challenge for the small mission congregation,” says diaconal Lutheran minister, Pam Harrington, “is carving out a manageable ministry of worship, service and outreach without burning out our active members.” In mission together, Lutherans and Anglicans not only participate in special worship services, Bible studies and workshops, including child abuse prevention, but they also meet several community needs, such as supporting a weekly parents and tots group, a breakfast club to feed local school children, and “Places for People”—an initiative to provide affordable housing.
The last mutual venture highlighted here is at Zion Lutheran Church in Beausejour, Man., where Anglican priest Hugh Laidlaw is the pastor since August 2003. His relationship with the parishioners has not only flourished, but his integration into the congregation’s German background was “made easier by the broad spectrum of the worship and cultural background within the customs of my own denomination,” says Pastor Hugh. “Church members have a shepherd who understands them and respects their ethnicity.”
The genuine desire by the people and pastors of Anglican and Lutheran churches in Canada to work together in the Body of Christ is made all the more profound given the uniqueness of and the loyalty to our respective diversity and traditions. Rev. Peter Mikelic pastors Epiphany Lutheran church, Toronto, and writes for various church and secular publications.