In the second of four joint sessions at Assembly 2023, delegates to the ELCIC Special Convention and the General Synod reflected on 22 years of full communion and took a deeper look at how this history shapes the work of the two churches and the journey going forward.
A powerful 10-minute video opened the session, reminding delegates of what was going on in the world back in 2001 when the Waterloo Declaration was signed. The video also provided key highlights of the growing relationship between the Anglican Church of Canada and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada over the years.
In July 2013, the first joint Assembly was held in Ottawa, focusing on the theme Together for the Love of the World. It was at that gathering that The Joint Assembly Declaration was adopted, committing the two churches to shared work in the areas of homelessness and affordable housing and responsible resource extraction.
Rev. Paul Gehrs, Assistant to the ELCIC National Bishop, shared how these commitments to housing and resource extraction have shaped the work of staff and included national expressions of this work around National Housing Day (November 22), Earth Day (April 22) and shared statements, calls to prayer, and advocacy from the Primate, the National Bishop and the National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop.
During the joint session, Rev. Scott Sharman, the Animator for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations for the Anglican Church of Canada, reflected on some of the emerging interfaith and interreligious work and dialogue that Anglicans and Lutheran are doing together.
“In my own experience, seeking conversations and building bridges with people of other faith traditions, it’s pretty rare that our partners in those conversations are worried about whether they are speaking to Anglicans or Lutherans,” said Rev. Sharman. “As followers of Jesus together, interfaith work is an area where it makes a lot of sense for use to work as fully together as possible. This is an important area for our relationship.”
Sharman introduced Rabbi Ibrahim Long, who has worked alongside the two churches in developing resources available on acommonword.ca – a website of resources for Canadian Christians and Canadian Muslims who want to know one another more deeply and grown in understanding of their respective faith traditions.
“You make me want to be a better Muslim,” Rabbi Long told delegates. “There’s something unique about speaking to someone outside one’s faith tradition… I see you as people who strive to adhere as scripture, and that’s a commonality among us.”
“Of course, our theologies differs and aspects of our practices differ – in significant ways…,” he continued, noting that everyone at Assembly 2023 are, “people who strive to be close to our Creator.”
“That sense of shared community is even more needed in today’s world,” said Long. “Yes, we differ in faith, but you and I, we have faith. In a time and age when many are confused and struggling.”