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Thursday, 01 May 2008

Full Communion between ELCA and UMC passes at General Conference 2008

It's official now.  On April 28, 2008, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church approved the petition for Full Communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  The agreement received 98% approval as part of the consent calendar. The historic vote was noted by GCCUIC director Tracy Merrick from Western Pennsylvania. He said, "This new relationship has been decades in the making and reflects the deeply embedded commitment to ecumenism of our church."

Bishop Hanson and Bishop Oden celebrate the UM vote on full communion
Bishop Hanson and Bishop Oden celebrate the UM vote on full communion
The journey to this point has been long and fruitful. The dialogues began in 1972. Many bishops and other leaders of both denominations have been involved in the process.

 

The celebration of the vote was part of the Ecumenical Day celebration. Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the ELCA was the featured preacher. Using the image of Jesus as the vine and the church as the branches, he described the  ways the denominations and individual members need to be pruned back to bear more fruit. Bishop Hanson talked about how together both denominations "might more imaginatively, evangelically, prophetically and abundantly bear fruit for the sake of the Gospel and the life of the world."
The relationship between The United Methodist Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America does not end with this vote. In 2009, the ELCA General Assembly will take the same vote. We anticipate that the proposal for full communion will be as enthusiastically embraced as it was by United Methodists.

Bishop Hanson pointed out that many of our members live in full communion in grocery stores, schools, and backyards everyday. It is now the job of local churches to live into more fully.


 
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