From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Lutheran-Episcopal Committee Learns of Exception Request

From News News <NEWS@ELCA.ORG>
Date Wed, 19 Jun 2002 13:03:18 -0500


June 19, 2002


     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- A candidate for ordination has formally
requested an exception to  ordination procedures of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), members of the Lutheran-Episcopal
Coordinating Committee (LECC) and staff members from the ELCA and
Episcopal Church ecumenical offices were told when the committee met
June 3-5 at the Episcopal Church Center in New York.
     The committee was established as part of  "Called to Common
Mission (CCM)," a full communion agreement of the ELCA and Episcopal
Church, which went into effect in 2001.  The agreement provides for
sharing of common ministries and, under certain circumstances, allows
for exchange of clergy between the churches.  LECC's purpose is to
monitor and coordinate full communion activities.  Both churches appoint
clergy and lay members to serve on LECC.
     CCM requires that a bishop must preside at all Lutheran
ordinations, a practice not required in the ELCA before CCM.  According
to a bylaw adopted at the 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, a bishop may
consider a request for an exception to the ordination procedure required
by CCM.
     The 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted the bylaw in response to
criticism of CMM by some Lutherans. It allows a synod bishop, under
certain circumstances, to authorize another pastor to preside at an ELCA
ordination.  The bylaw requires that a request for an exception be
considered by the synod bishop in consultation with the ELCA presiding
bishop.  The bylaw also requires the synod bishop to seek the advice of
the synod council.
     The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, confirmed to the
ELCA News Service that an ELCA seminarian has made a written request to
a synod bishop for an exception -- as provided for in the bylaw -- to
current ordination procedures. The decision will be made by the synod
bishop in consultation with the presiding bishop and synod council when
the candidate receives a call, Hanson said.
     Also at the LECC meeting, members received the report of a
diaconal task force, which outlined histories of various forms of the
diaconate in the two church bodies, including differences among these
forms such as training, liturgical versus service roles, and
professional diaconate versus non-stipendiary roles.
     Diaconal ministers in the ELCA are lay people commissioned by the
church to serve in settings other than those of a traditional pastor.
Generally they serve in a specific ministry role.
     The report outlined next steps, including the exploration of
possibilities and realities for mission, and developing a statement of
principles, LECC's statement said.  In response, LECC encouraged further
discussion of diaconal ministries in the ELCA and Episcopal Church by
the diaconal task force, the Lutheran Ecumenical Representatives
Network, and members of the two churches.
         During the course of the meeting, LECC heard reports from
Marcia L. Clark Johnson,  associate director, ELCA Department for
Synodical Relations; the Rev. Donald J. McCoid, bishop of the ELCA
Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod, Pittsburgh, and chair of the ELCA
Conference of Bishops; and from the Rt. Rev. Clayton Matthews, director,
Episcopal Church Office of Pastoral Development, on a proposed joint
training program for new ELCA and Episcopal Church bishops, and
continuing education programs for experienced bishops of the two
churches.  Johnson, McCoid and Matthews also shared with LECC
information regarding separate studies on the roles of bishops who have
been inaugurated in the two churches, the LECC statement said.
     LECC affirmed that just as clergy of the two churches are
interchangeable, so is membership.  Confirmed members transferring from
one church body to the other will be received by a rite of reception
without the requirement of repeating confirmation.
     On the second day of its deliberations, LECC heard presentations
on the response ministry of St. Paul's Chapel of Trinity Church, Wall
Street, New York, to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade
Center.  Presenters were the Rev. Frederick Burnham, director of the
Trinity Institute, and Dr. Courtney Cowart, program associate for
Trinity Church's Spiritual Formation Grants Program.
     Following a visit to "Ground Zero" and St. Paul's Chapel, 12 of
the18 members of LECC attended a midday "Peace Mass" at St. Peter's
Evangelical Lutheran Church, near the Episcopal Church Center.
     Following a report from Emily Perrow, director of youth ministry
in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut and a member of LECC, members
urged the national youth ministry offices of the ELCA and Episcopal
Church to collaborate in planning and sharing regional and national
youth events as an expression of common mission by the two churches, the
LECC statement said.
     On the final day of its meeting, LECC heard a presentation by the
Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan New York Synod,
and by the Rev. William L. Hurst Jr., director of the synod's diaconate
program, on the history of the Metropolitan New York Synod's diaconal
ministry program.  The LECC statement said the program has had a
significant role in the synod's dynamic strategy for ministry in the New
York metropolitan area's Latino American communities.
     LECC will meet again in February 2002 in Austin, Texas.  It plans
to focus on emerging patterns of cooperative Lutheran-Episcopal
theological education, with a special focus in the context of Latino
American ministry formation. Reports are expected on ways in which
ecumenical studies are being integrated into the curricula of ELCA and
Episcopal Church seminaries and divinity schools, the LECC statement
-- -- --
*Terry L. Bowes, Longmont, Colo., is an ELCA lay member of the Lutheran-
Episcopal Coordinating Committee.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG

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