by Warren Hamp
One of the directions which the Commission on Theology and Church Relations has taken in the last few years has been to help coordinate dialogue with other Christian confessions. This comes under the ‘church relations’ side of the commission’s work.
Currently, Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) is a partner in North American dialogues alongside The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod with the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) and the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA).NALC is comprised primarily of Lutheran congregations who have separated from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada on account of differences in doctrine and practice. ACNA likewise is comprised of Anglican/Episcopal parishes who have separated (often at great cost) from the Episcopal Church in the United States of America as well as the Anglican Church of Canada.
LCC has also begun a local dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church in St. Catharines, Ontario, and another local dialogue has just begun in Edmonton. Using local partners for these dialogues keeps the cost of them very minimal (we just have to pay for lunch!).
Some have asked: Why dialogue? It’s a good question, for which we present the following answers:
- Get to know you! We often have incorrect understandings and misconceptions to overcome—and a lot to learn from each other.
- Be honest. We learn more clearly where we agree and disagree when we speak freely, even challenging one another.
- Express what we have in common. It’s a lonely world for the church in these grey and latter days. Every connection we can faithfully and honestly make with our fellow believers is a comfort for us
- Be ‘catholic.’ That is to say, be ‘universal.’ We recognize the Church as Church and seek out the widest possible connections.We don’t wish to be sectarian, cutting ourselves off from the whole church, but rather catholic, confessing the faith within the whole church
There is a proviso in our dialogues. We are meeting with those groups with whom we may have the most common ground, in regard to the confession of the Scriptures as the Word of God, or in regard to the historic creeds of the church, or in regard to a common religious-moral stance in our country.
Rev. Warren Hamp is Chairman of Lutheran Church–Canada’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations.