Anglican-Lutheran International Commission hears about hopes and concerns of two churches

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, recently co-chaired the third Anglican-Lutheran International Commission in Jerusalem, Jun. 18-25. Photo: Brian Bukowski
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, recently co-chaired the third Anglican-Lutheran International Commission in Jerusalem, Jun. 18-25. Photo: Brian Bukowski

The third Anglican-Lutheran International Commission (ALIC) held its sixth and final meeting in the holy city Jerusalem between 18 and 25 June 2011, under the leadership of Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and of the Reverend Dr. Thomas Nyiwe, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon.

The meeting was hosted by the Anglican Communion with the generous assistance of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem was chosen as the venue for this meeting at the Stuttgart Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), at which Bishop Dr. Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, was elected President of the LWF. In his address to that assembly, the Archbishop of Canterbury made a plea for greater cooperation between Anglicans and Lutherans in the Middle East, and the Commission met here to learn of the hopes and cares of the two churches in Jerusalem in particular.

Bishop Suheil Dawani, the Anglican Bishop, hosted an ecumenical reception for local church leaders, and the Commission was addressed by His Beatitude Theophilos III, the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem. The Commission spent one of its sessions with Bishop Dawani and Bishop Younan. At both this session and at the reception, members of the Commission heard of the struggles of Christians in Jerusalem and Palestine: of the strain of living a restricted life, of the lack of jobs and opportunities particularly for young people, and of lacking peace with justice for all in society, all of which lead many Christians to leave the holy land and diminish the witness of Christianity in the very places of its birth. At the same time, they heard of the dedication of the local churches to be the hands and feet of Christ: to advocate for a just peace among all, to seek good relations among all the faith communities, and to offer high quality education and health care to the whole society.

Members of the Commission had the opportunity to learn of some of this work firsthand when they visited the Princess Basma Centre and the Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives, and Dar al-Kalima College and the International Center of Bethlehem. The focus of the work of the Commission at this meeting was the writing of its final report. Entitled “To Love and Serve the Lord,” the report focuses on the theme of diakonia: the service and witness of the Church. Many ecumenical agreements have examined koinonia, the unity of the Church; this report looks at the essential connection of koinonia with diakonia. The report is addressed to the two world Communions and their member churches, but it is hoped that much of the material, rooted in scripture and including stories of diakonia in action from around the world, will be of use to parishes and congregations, and indeed to other ecumenical partners, as they seek to deepen their commitment to discipleship in witness and service.

Present at the meeting were:

Anglicans:

The Most Revd Fred Hiltz, Canada (Co-Chair) 
The Revd Canon Dr Charlotte Methuen, Germany and United Kingdom 
The Rt Revd Dr Musonda T. S. Mwamba, Botswana 
The Revd Professor Renta Nishihara, Japan 
The Very Revd Dr William H. Petersen, USA 
The Revd Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Anglican Communion Office (Co-Secretary) 
Mr Neil Vigers (administrative assistant) 
Apology 
The Revd Dr Cathy Thomson, Australia

Lutherans:

Revd Dr Thomas Nyiwe, Cameroon (Co-Chair) 
Revd Angel Furlan, Argentina 
Revd Dr Cameron Harder, Canada 
Landesbischof emeritus Jurgen Johannesdotter, Germany 
Revd Dr Ndanganeni P. Phaswana, South Africa 
Revd Canon Helene Tarneberg Steed, Sweden and Ireland 
Professor Dr Kathryn Johnson, Lutheran World Federation (Co-Secretary) 
Apologies: 
Revd Professor Kirsten Busch Nielsen, Denmark 
Professor Dr Kenneth G. Appold, USA
Ecumenical Observer: 
The Revd Professor Dr Gunter Esser, the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, Germany

The Commission was established by the Anglican Consultative Council and The Lutheran World Federation to continue the dialogue between Anglicans and Lutherans on the worldwide level which has been in progress since 1970. ALIC has built upon the work reflected in The Niagara Report (1987), focusing on the mission of the church and the role of the ordained ministry, The Diaconate as Ecumenical Opportunity (1995), and most recently Growth in Communion (2002), the report of the Anglican-Lutheran International Working Group, which reviewed the extensive regional agreements which have established close relations between Anglican and Lutheran churches in several parts of the world.

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