ELCA and UMC enter into full communion

Yesterday the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the United Methodist Church entered into full communion at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly meeting in Minneapolis. The Methodists approved an identical resolution last year.

Before the ELCA’s vote, the Rev. Gregory D. Palmer of the UMC said it would be “a great day” for both churches. “I am grateful that we have come to this point.” At a news conference following the two actions, Palmer — who is president of the UMC Council of Bishops — said that “God has brought both our churches to a broad place where Jesus Christ calls us … to all be one [and] to go out for the sake of the world.”

“We welcome you as you welcomed us last summer,” the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, told Palmer after the first vote, “and we rejoice at what the spirit has in store for us.”

The ELCA News Service writes that full communion is not a merger.

…It means that the two churches express a common confession of Christian faith; mutual recognition of Baptism and sharing Holy Communion; join worship and freedom to exchange members; agree to mutual recognition of ordained ministers for service in either church; express a common commitment to evangelism, witness and service; engage in common decision-making on critical matters; and a mutual lifting of criticisms that may exist between the churches.

The ELCA has 6.4 million baptized members, and the UMC has 8 million. The predecessor churches of the ELCA and the United Methodist Church began dialogue in 1977. The two churches entered into interim eucharistic sharing in 2005.

Read the rest here.

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