Senior management from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) and Mennonite Church Canada (MC Canada) met at the ELCIC National Office in Winnipeg on December 15.
Nine leaders attended, including national leaders—Willard Metzger (MC Canada) and National Bishop Susan C. Johnson (ELCIC)—as well as staff with oversight in the areas of witness, church engagement, communications, finance, justice and other departments. They shared their current work, challenges, strategic plans, and mapped out their relationships with partners.
Relations between the ELCIC and MC Canada have been renewed since July 2010, when The Lutheran World Federation offered a historic apology to Mennonites for past persecutions. The move to formally apologize comes out of a seven year dialogue between Lutherans and Mennonites, which resulted in a study document that presents a shared understanding of what happened during the Reformation.
The ELCIC and MC Canada have worked to apply this global statement of reconciliation in local churches and jointly prepared a congregational study guide, Healing Memories, Reconciling in Christ, which offers a study process primarily for groups of both Lutherans and Mennonites to understand the context of the apology and the new relationship between the churches.
The study guide was intended as a first step with the hope that there would be further places to foster dialogue and leadership. The December meeting of senior staff is another step in building relationships. Further areas of cooperation emerged from the discussions, particularly in the area of indigenous ministries.
The leaders agreed that bilateral conversations in specific work areas should take place in the coming months, with a follow up meeting planned in late 2012.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 145,276 baptized members in 594 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.
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