National Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) and Archbishop Linda Nicholls, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC), opened the Assembly 2023 plenary sessions today at the University of Calgary, in Calgary, Alberta with a state of the union address.
The Primate discussed gathering under the theme “Let there be greening”. She further explained how it was chosen before the pandemic began and had become even more important now, noting that the theme referred to “both the greening of the planet in light of climate change and the greening of our churches emerging from the pandemic and other challenges”.
Bishop Susan shared an overview of the important work achieved together. In 2019, the two churches adopted a Memorandum of Mutual Recognition of Relations of Full Communion affirming that a relationship of full communion exists among the four churches—commonly referred to as Churches Beyond Borders (ELCIC, ACC, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Episcopal Church) and governed by either Called to Common Mission (USA, 1999 & 2000) or the Waterloo Declaration (2001).
Partnerships were a key theme of the address, including the growing relationships of the two churches with the Moravian Church of Canada, partner churches in the Holy Land, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. The leaders discussed the recent visit to Ottawa with heads of the United and Presbyterian Churches of Canada to meet with Parliamentarians to discuss the deteriorating political situation in Palestine and Israel and their participation in a panel discussion at St. Paul’s University with other faith leaders and academics.
The address included the two leaders sharing highlights on the future vision of the two churches. In the coming days, Anglican delegates will receive the work of the Strategic Planning Group, “who through extensive conversations from coast to coast” will bring forward five transformational Aspirations to drive the future mission of the church, said Archbishop Linda.
Bishop Susan spoke of a new vision statement recently adopted by the ELCIC, “God’s grace and unconditional love calls us to be a diverse, inclusive community that celebrates all and upholds life giving relationships.” She also shared an overview of the four key areas of the ELCIC strategic plan, which include: Striving to be a Healthier Church; Seeking to cultivate Effective Partnerships; Encouraging Relational Leadership; and Leading with Compassionate Justice.
The leaders’ address highlighted how the full communion relationship between the two churches has continued to, “grow stronger as our churches, our synods and diocese, our waterloo ministries and our staff work more closely together.”
The leaders concluded their address by inviting delegates of the two churches to consider how they might start dreaming about “next steps” that the two churches could take “in this journey of full communion.”
Watch a recording of the State of the Union Address: