Thursday, April 17, 2008

How full of a communion?

The ELCA is very active in ecumenical work. It currently has full communion with five other denominations, and is considering full communion with the United Methodist Church. Personally, I think building bridges between faiths, and especially between denominations, is essential for the Church.

However, Rev. William G. Rusch, lecturer in Lutheran church history and polity at Yale Divinity School and former executive director of the ELCA Department for Ecumenical Affairs feels that the ELCA cannot be in full communion and dialog with everyone (for reasons of limited resources, if nothing else).

Rev. Jessica R. Crist, bishop of the Montana Synod said that the ELCA needs to be care not to lose focus and "be clear why we are doing what we are doing (and) how it relates to our mission as the ELCA."

Honestly, I think Bishop Crist has a good point. Why do we seek ecumenical dialog and unity?

For me, it is a basic emotional matter of not being able to take communion with my family when I visit them in Mexico and we all go to a Catholic Mass. It is also a spiritual concern that every time we divide the Church into more denominations, we break the body of Christ--and for some reason we seem to do it over and over and over.

But perhaps there are good grounds for denominations dividing, or for the ELCA not to have full communion and active dialog with all Christian (and even all religious) bodies. I'm not sure that I'm convinced of that, but perhaps you can offer some reasons.

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