The primate of the Anglican Church of Canada returned from the recent national convention of the Evangelical 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.
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.’ ”
Delegates to the Vancouver conference, which had as its theme “Signs of Hope,” expressed a particular interest in the two churches working more closely in social justice ministries and in theological education. The two churches are already pursuing “an agenda that really enlivens the full communion,” said Archbishop Hiltz, who stays 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.