Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, presides at a Eucharist during the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s National Convention held June 25 to 28 in Vancouver.
The primate of the Anglican Church of Canada returned from the national convention of the Evangelican Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) with “signs of hope” that most delegates want to discuss how full communion between the two churches can be lived out.
The convention took place in Vancouver, June 25-28.
Although some Lutherans still expressed concern that full communion could lead to a merging of the churches, Archbishop Fred Hiltz said those voices are in the minority. “The bigger voice I heard was, ‘Thank you very much, we really like the idea of being able to talk about full communion,’ ” he said.
Asked to lead a Bible study, Archbishop Hiltz chose questions related to a reading, Luke 4:16-21, and the theme of the convention, “Signs of Hope.” His question “What signs of hope do you see for our churches working together in the spirit of this text?” was met with a great deal of enthusiasm and most of the 53 table groups seized the opportunity to discuss full communion.
Delegates expressed a particular interest in the two churches working more closely in social justice ministries and in theological education. “People were saying, ‘Why can’t Lutherans be trained in the Vancouver School of Theology?’ ” said Archbishop Hiltz. “The bottom line is we’ve got probably more theological schools than we can realistically maintain, so ought we not to be working together?” Unlike Anglican theological schools, Lutheran schools are tied to the church, he noted.
The two churches are already pursuing “an agenda that really enlivens the full communion,” added Archbishop Hiltz, who is in regular contact with ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson. Joint meetings between communications staff and management teams also have been held.
Looking ahead, there are several joint meetings planned between the two churches. In 2010, officers of both General Synod and National Convention will meet, and in 2011, a joint meeting of the Council of General Synod and the National Church Council will be held. In 2013, General Synod and National Convention will both be held in Ottawa.
“My hope is that when we meet in Ottawa in 2013, it will look more like a gathering of two churches … rather than two conventions doing a few things together,” Archbishop Hiltz said.
A resolution on the Middle East adopted at the convention recognized the ongoing divisions between Muslims, Jews and Christians in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. The resolution calls on the ELCIC to support a secure state of Israel and a viable state for Palestinians, and for all ELCIC members to work for peace by praying, educating and accompanying peace builders.
Archbishop Hiltz, who will visit the Anglican diocese of Jerusalem in late August, met with Bishop Munib A. Younan, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Bishop Younan expressed interest in a conversation with the Anglican bishop about Anglican-Lutheran relations in Jerusalem during the primate’s visit there. “It was really helpful to meet him in advance, to hear his address and to hear the conversation around this particular resolution,” said Archbishop Hiltz.