A dissident group within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has vowed to continue its battle against an ecumenical agreement that would bring the ELCA into full communion with the Episcopal (Anglican) Church in the United States.Despite this opposition, the ELCA council, which met in Chicago from April 7 to 9, voted to continue the move towards full communion, which is scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2001 and is known as "Called to Common Mission (CCM)." The agreement will not lead to a merger of the two denominations. However, it will mean that they will fully recognize each other's members, ministries and sacraments, and will be able to exchange clergy.The dissident group, called WordAlone, opposes the move towards full communion because it says the agreement violates basic Lutheran traditions. And while the group is officially opposed to splitting off from the ELCA, a spokesman for the group, Christopher Hershman, said that "the specter of schism [exists] because the ELCA won't dialogue with us."Under the planned agreement with the Episcopalians, the 5.2-million-member ELCA would accept the tradition of the "historic episcopate," the belief that only bishops tracing their succession back to Jesus' apostles can ordain new bishops.Anglican churches traditionally believe that the historic episcopate is an essential element of the church that must be respected in any agreement for union with other churches. Lutheran churches in some parts of the world embrace the historic episcopate, but many do not.For the first time, ELCA bishops would be integrated into the historic episcopate, and required to be present at the ordination of ELCA clergy. Currently, most bishops attend and perform these ordinations, ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more