ST. CATHARINES, Ontario – Dialogue participants from the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), and Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) met for their latest semi-annual round of discussions at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary (CLTS) in Ontario on Friday, October 17. It was the first time a regular meeting of the dialogue had taken place in Canada.
The latest discussions were preceded by a one-day symposium at CLTS entitled Militant Secularism: Its Cost, Cause and Cure. The symposium featured presentations by both Lutheran and Anglican theologians, including Rev. Dr. John Stephenson (LCC), Bishop Donald Harvey (ACNA), Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer (LCMS) and Rev. Dr. Jonathan Riches (ACNA). Seminary students, pastors, and interested lay people from the area were in attendance for the conference, in which presenters described in detail the way in which rising secularism challenges the faith and life of Christians, but presenters also encouraged listeners to face the new realities with a strong commitment to the unchanging Gospel of Christ.
Reflecting on the symposium, LCC President Robert Bugbee noted, “I’m very glad for the willingness of our St. Catharines seminary to invite the dialogue to Canada, and to make it all the more worthwhile by hosting such an enriching study day. It is interesting how LCC originally had only observer status in the Lutheran-Anglican dialogue, but has grown to be a strong participant obviously respected by the others.”
“I’m deeply grateful to Dr. John Stephenson as my representative for his ongoing commitment to these conversations,” President Bugbee continued. “We can only hope that these talks will impel everyone involved to commit themselves anew to Christ, the only Saviour, and to a faithful Biblical witness.”
The dialogue meetings brought updates from the participating churches, including plans for 2015 to provide a summary of how the dialogues have progressed since their inception. In the near future, participants will outline points of teaching where strong convergence has been found among the churches, while honestly facing the areas where there are challenges.
The work builds on a previous document released in 2012, which highlighted the strong level of theological agreement found between ACNA, LCMS, and LCC at the time and rejoicing “that we can jointly affirm without reservation core teachings (articles) of the Christian faith shared by our church bodies.”
The next series of conversations is set for mid-April 2015 at the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.