Close to 1,000 Anglicans and Lutherans from across Canada will be gathering in Ottawa in July for what the Anglican Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, says is an “historic and exciting moment” in church history.
For the first time since 2001, when they signed a declaration of full communion, the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCiC) will be holding a joint assembly from July 3-7 at the Ottawa Convention Centre.
With the theme of “Together for the love of the world,” it will be a meeting quite unlike any other meeting,” say Archbishop Hiltz and Lutheran National Bishop Susan Johnson.
Each church will still hold separate sessions to deal with elections and specific church matters but will join together for worship and issues of common interest.
Says the Very Revd Peter Wall, Dean of the Niagara Diocese and Anglican co-chair of the joint planning committee, along with ELCiC Bishop Michael Pryse: “We will learn together about the exciting work in mission and ministry happening in both of our churches – here in Canada and around the world.”
Delegates will be invited to make statements on two priority social justice issues: affordable housing and responsible resource extraction.
Special guests will include the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General, Anglican Communion, and the Revd Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, the Communion’s Director for Unity, Faith and Order; Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, of the Episcopal Church, USA; Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary, World Council of Churches; and Rev. Martin Junge, General Secretary, the Lutheran World Federation.
Bishop of Ottawa John Chapman says he is delighted that his diocese has been chosen to host the joint assembly, with local Anglicans and Lutherans volunteering for a wide range of tasks, from greeting the delegates at airports, rail and bus stations to staffing the registration and hospitality desks.
Local Anglicans and Lutherans are also being invited to join the delegates for prayers and readings in front of the Canadian Parliament Buildings on the morning of Saturday 6 July. With a “man-made waterfall” as a visual backdrop, the youth-organized event will focus on access to clean water, especially in aboriginal communities. “This will not be a demonstration. It’s a prayerful witness,” says Judy Steers, ACC coordinator for youth activities.
Under full communion each church maintains its own autonomy while fully recognizing the catholicity and apostolicity of the other. In practical terms this means that Anglicans and Lutherans in Canada can share the Eucharist together, use each other’s liturgies, and participate in each other’s ordinations. Anglican and Lutheran clergy may also serve interchangeably in either church.