Anglicans, Lutherans vote for full communion with Moravians

The Rev. James Lavoy of Rio Terrace Moravian Church in Edmonton summed up the Moravian approach to ecumenism with an often-repeated phrase from Moravian church life: "In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty." Photo: Jim Tubman
Published July 5, 2023

Calgary, Alta.

The Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) have joined in full communion with the Moravian Church in Canada. The Anglican and Lutheran churches, which have been in full communion with each other since 2001, voted unanimously in favour of a resolution proposing full communion with the Moravians in their General Synod and Special Convention governing bodies over Canada Day weekend. The Moravian church had already voted a unanimous yes on the resolution on June 23, the Rev. Betsy Miller, president of the Provincial Elders’ Conference of the Northern Province of the Moravian Church in America—which includes the Moravian Church in Canada—told the Lutherans and Anglicans in a video address. 

With roots in what is now the eastern part of the Czech republic, Moravianism is a comparatively small denomination of Christians but one of the oldest forms of Protestantism, dating to the 15th century. Despite its small size, the Moravian Church is known for a long tradition of mission work and evangelism and a history of noteworthy contributions to Protestant theology and worship. The Moravian Church in Canada includes seven congregations in the Calgary and Edmonton areas of Alberta; there is also a separate mission province in Labrador. The Rev. James Lavoy, pastor of Rio Terrace Moravian Church in Edmonton and a member of the Lutheran Anglican Moravian (LAM) working group, said he hoped the church’s Labrador province would also ratify the One Church, One Shepherd document defining the full communion relationship at their next Synod. 

“We know that this is a time of partisan division and pray that the Spirit will bring us all together if we can only practice what we preach and model what it looks like to walk in communion and solidarity with others,” he said to the Anglican and Lutheran Assembly during an address June 30. “I believe that our diversity can unite us. So, siblings, I pray that our increasing collaboration will be an opportunity for the denominations that we love to do meaningful, urgent, and novel ministry in this new era.”  

During the July 1 session in which the Anglicans voted on the resolution, Alex McPhee, a lay member from the diocese of Qu’Appelle, told General Synod he had originally come to faith through the ministries of the Moravian church. 

“So I am very happy to see this coming through, partially because when I started going to an Anglican parish I erroneously thought that this was already standing policy,” he said.  

He praised the Moravian church for its commitment to evangelism and mission, its adaptability to new circumstances and forms of ministry and its ability to let the gospel speak for itself. 

“There’s only like 5,000 Moravians in all of Canada, so it’s pretty impressive actually that they got me … but that’s the Moravians. 

“The Moravians do incredible work and one of the biggest things I think they embody is knowing when to get out of the way between people and the gospels. 

The Rev. Ian Luke of the diocese of Saskatoon told General Synod that including the Moravian Church in the Anglicans’ and Lutherans’ full communion relationship was the next step in fulfilling the promise represented by the principles of unity first laid out in the Waterloo Declaration, their full communion agreement. 

“I was this close to tears when we signed the Waterloo Declaration and I am again, and I want to thank those who have brought us to this point—to be able to fulfill what now feels like kind of a prophecy,” he said, voice slightly husky with emotion. 


  • Sean Frankling

    Sean Frankling’s experience includes newspaper reporting as well as writing for video and podcast media. He’s been chasing stories since his first co-op for Toronto’s Gleaner Community Press at age 19. He studied journalism at Carleton University and has written for the Toronto Star, WatchMojo and other outlets.

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