We are not a very big denomination. We don't have all the resources to do all the things we would like to do. Some feel that this presents us with a unique opportunity because it forces us to cooperate with other Christians whenever we can.
The ELCIC is one of about 136 member churches of the Lutheran World Federation, which has its headquarters in Geneva. Those churches are in 75 countries representing over 61.7 million of the 65.4 million Lutherans worldwide (2002 figures). Each member church is autonomous, but we are increasingly holding each other more accountable to one another. Membership helps us to strengthen and clarify our Lutheran identity as well as to cooperate on some international projects.
While we continue to hope for one church, we Lutherans in Canada are not one big happy family. The majority of Lutherans who are not ELCIC members belong to Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC). There are also a few Lutherans in independent congregations or in congregations which are part of some very small Lutheran groups. Unlike the ELCIC, LCC does not ordain women. LCC also practices close or closed Communion, which means that only their own members or Christians who share their understanding of Holy Communion are invited to commune with them.
At the same time, we Lutherans in Canada work together whenever we can through the Lutheran Council in Canada. We are also very proud of the work that we share through Canadian Lutheran World Relief.
In some communities, we have shared ministries where ELCIC members share facilities and even clergy with members of other denominations particularly from the Presbyterian and United Churches of Canada.
Membership in the Canadian Council of Churches helps the ELCIC to work with other Canadian denominations in talking about important national issues. We work cooperatively on social issues with other Canadian Christians through the various Canadian coalitions. We would never be able to do the necessary research without this arrangement.
The ELCIC is also a member of the World Council of Churches. The work of the WCC has encouraged Lutherans in Canada to think about such things as sacramental and ministry practices, economic justice and care for the environment.
For several years, Anglicans and Lutheran have been working more and more closely together. In some communities, it may be difficult to sort out who is Anglican and who is Lutheran. They may share a common church building. They may be worshipping together, alternating between Anglican and Lutheran forms of liturgy. The Anglicans and Lutherans in such congregations may even share one clergyperson, either a Lutheran pastor or an Anglican priest.
In July 2001, the Anglican Church in Canada and the ELCIC established a special relationship called "Full Communion." The agreement is called The Waterloo Declaration. While both denominations continue to function as distinct church bodies, we are learning to work together in many ways in the various levels of our church organizations. We freely exchange members and even clergy with each other and share resources.
Whether Anglican or Lutheran, we welcome all Christians to worship with us. We also invite those who are seeking a church home to consider one of our congregations—Lutheran, Anglican or combined.