Archbishop Fred Hiltz, left, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and National Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
The Anglican Church of Canada’s management team met with National Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and her senior staff in March to discuss ways to deepen the full communion agreement between the two churches Their discussion included plans for a joint General Synod / National Convention to be held in Ottawa in 2013 and the possibility of sharing space for both national offices in the future.
“If full communion is really going to have some sense of visibility across the Canadian church, there have to be some pretty bold steps that we take together to help people realize that we are, in fact, churches in full communion,” said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Bishop Johnson said she expects the idea will be well-received by Canadian Lutherans, whom she thought wanted more joint events when the two governing bodies both met in Winnipeg in 2007. “(The 2013 gathering) will allow more opportunities for people to engage with one another and build up relationships at a grassroots level.”
Archbishop Hiltz said the plan for 2013 is to do most things together. “The only things that we would do separately would be those things that our respective constitutions would require us to when we meet in National Convention or General Synod – dealing with resolutions of a constitutional or doctrinal nature, for example,” he said.
Sharing national office space in the future would result in a “huge cost saving,” said Archbishop Hiltz. But “this is not something that is simply driven by our current financial circumstances,” he added. “There’s no question that has some impact, but I really think that what’s driving it is the commitment that we made as churches in 2001.”
Possible scenarios for sharing office space haven’t been worked out yet, said Archbishop Hiltz. “A shared office might be that one office moves into the other or together we move into a brand new location and open a new office together. Who knows what could come of this?”
Both Bishop Johnson and Archbishop Hiltz said that these discussions are not about merging the two churches. “We’re not talking about being one church in one office space. We’re talking about being two churches in one office space,” said Bishop Johnson.
Vianney (Sam) Carriere, director of communications and information resources for the Anglican Church of Canada, said possibilities for shared communications initiatives were also discussed. For example, he said, “One of the things we talked about was a full communion Web site that would be specifically focused on things that we do together.”