United Methodists, ELCA near votes on ‘full communion’

The concept of unity among different Christian traditions is always tricky.

Everyone wants it, but no one knows what it might look like.

But “full communion” is a different matter.

Establishing full communion between denominations is about “acknowledging one another’s ministries as valid,” said the Rev. W. Douglas Mills, an executive with the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns.

header-logo.gifThe United Methodist Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — two of the country’s largest Protestant denominations and bellwethers of the mainline tradition — have been preparing for years to acknowledge one another’s ministries as valid.

Now they are close to voting on establishing full communion.

elca1b.gifUnited Methodists will vote on April 29; ELCAers in 2009.

A statement published by the two denominations in 2005 noted: “Lutherans and United Methodists have been well acquainted with one another. Our relationship, locally and nationally, has been forged through friendships, family ties, congregations, ecumenical councils, colleges and seminaries. We are, in countless places, partners in ministry.”

The two denominations plan to encourage joint Holy Communion services, based on guidelines that will be prepared.

The ELCA is already in full communion with the Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, the United Church of Christ and the Moravian Church in America.

The UMC is in full communion with the AME Church, the AME Zion Church and the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.