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Meeting of the Anglican - Lutheran International Working Group

Posted on: May 23, 2002 2:43 PM
Related Categories: Ecumenical, Lutheran

Porto Alegre, Brazil

11-14 May 2002

Background (as referred to also in last year's communiqué)

The dialogue between Anglicans and Lutherans on the worldwide level has been underway in varying formats since 1970. Prominent among the reports produced by this dialogue are The Niagara Report (1987), focusing on the mission of the church and the role of the ordained ministry, and The Diaconate as an Ecumenical Opportunity (1995), which were produced by the Anglican - Lutheran International Commission.

On the national and regional levels, Anglican and Lutheran churches have, over several years, moved toward different, binding forms of church fellowship, stemming from agreements such as the Meissen Common Statement (1988) between the Church of England and the Evangelical Church of Germany, the Porvoo Common Statement (1996) between the British and Irish Anglican Churches and most of the Nordic and Baltic Lutheran churches, and the Reuilly Common Statement (1999) between the British and Irish Anglican Churches and the French Lutheran and Reformed Churches, Called to Common Mission between the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Waterloo Declaration between The Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. A proposal for covenanting is now before the churches in Australia. Other significant developments in Anglican - Lutheran relations are taking place in Africa and Brazil.

The Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation in 1997 and the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops in 1998 both expressed their support of the developments toward agreements of church fellowship on regional and national level - those achieved and those in progress - between Anglican and Lutheran churches. They also affirmed the commitment of the two communions to continue and further their bilateral ecumenical relations.

In order to continue the formal contact between the two communions, it was decided in 1998 by the authorities of the Lutheran World Federation and the Anglican Communion, that a joint working group would be established. The mandate of the working group involves monitoring the development and progress in Anglican - Lutheran relations in the various regions of the world and assessing the significance of the regional developments for the furthering of relationships between Anglicans and Lutherans worldwide.

The initial meeting in 2000 reviewed and discussed the ongoing processes related to the various developments in Anglican - Lutheran relations worldwide. It identified several issues of principle and practice in the life of the communions and their ecumenical relations calling for further examination. It began to clarify and assess such issues.

Meeting in 2001 in Skálholt, Iceland, the Working Group heard regional reports and examined the coherence and compatibility of the agreements reached between Anglicans and Lutherans in different regional dialogues.

The present meeting

The Anglican - Lutheran International Working Group met again from 11 to 14 May 2002 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, hosted by the Anglican Communion in cooperation with the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil. The following persons, appointed by the respective communions, took part:

Lutherans: Bishop Ambrose Moyo, Zimbabwe, (co-chair); the Revd Dr Hartmut Hövelmann, Germany; Professor Michael Root, USA; Professor Mickey Mattox, USA/ France; and the Revd Sven Oppegaard, The Lutheran World Federation (co-secretary).

Anglicans: Bishop David Tustin, England, (co-chair), Bishop Sebastian Bakare, Zimbabwe; the Revd Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Canada; Bishop Orlando Santos de Oliveira, Brazil; the Very Revd Professor William H Petersen, USA; and the Revd Canon David Hamid, Anglican Communion Office (co-secretary). The Revd Dr Günter Esser from the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht participated as an observer. (The Anglicans and Old Catholics have been in communion since the Bonn Agreement of 1931). Ms Frances Hiller, Anglican Communion Office, served as administrative assistant to the meeting.

The Working Group heard reports from the participants on the development of Anglican - Lutheran agreements in their respective regions. The bulk of the Working Group's time was devoted to crafting a final report in fulfillment of the mandate given by the respective world communions. With this meeting the Working Group brings its work to a conclusion. Members also joined in daily morning and evening prayer with members of the seminary community at the Provincial Centre of the Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil.

On Sunday 12 May, the beginning of the week of prayer for Christian Unity, the Working Group participated in the Eucharist at the Anglican Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in Porto Alegre, at which Bishop Ambrose Moyo was the preacher. The celebratory service also included the participation of the Most Revd Dadeus Grings, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Porto Alegre; Pastor Heitor Meurer, Communications Secretary of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil, representing the Pastor President; the Revd João Fernando Mondini, representing the Regional Bishop of the Methodist Church; along with representatives of the Focolare Movement and many ecumenical organizations of the city.

On Monday 13 May the group was received by President Pastor Huberto Kirchheim and his staff in the offices of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession of Brazil. On Tuesday 14 May the Working Group was welcomed to a dinner hosted by the Most Revd Glauco Soares de Lima, Primate of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil.

The Working Group's final report, entitled "Growth in Communion", will be submitted to the respective world communions.