Relaymedia

Lutherans Urged to Pray for Anglican Unity

''The Windsor Report 2004 of the Lambeth Commission on Communion was expected with interest, given the nature of the issues it was established to consider''
( [email protected] ) Oct 21, 2004 03:27 AM EDT

Lutherans worldwide were urged to “accompany the Anglican Communion” through prayer and support at the wake of the Communion’s release of the Windsor Report on homosexuality and church unity.

"The question of the unity of a Christian world communion faced with major challenges in the area of ethics is one that deserves great attention in the ecumenical world at the present time," the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) general secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko said in the Oct. 20 statement.

The 65 million member LWF and the 77 million member Anglican Communion had maintained a loose fellowship for several years. However, the recent schismatic actions of the Episcopal Church USA (the American branch of the Communion), strained the ecumenical relationship between the two worldwide church bodies.

Therefore, the Windsor Report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion, which addressed the contentious actions of the ECUSA, the unity of the communion, and the future direction of the Anglican Church, grasped the interest of the Lutheran community as well.

“The Windsor Report 2004 of the Lambeth Commission on Communion was expected with interest, given the nature of the issues it was established to consider,” wrote Noko.

Several other denominations, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Presbyterian Church (USA), prepared similar task forces and commissions to address the issue of homosexuality and its impact on the unity of the church. The Lambeth Commission is the first to have completed such a report.

“The Commission deserves recognition for the transparent process it has adopted since its establishment, especially its public communication on the process at its different stages. It clearly has upheld a high level of sensitivity toward different views represented among its members and the broader constituency, as well as a strong commitment to the unity of the Anglican Communion and its witness to the gospel,” Noko wrote.

Ultimately, Noko encouraged Lutheran churches to pray for the Communion as it continues its discussion on unity.

Wrote Noko: “I call on the Lutheran churches around the world to accompany the Anglican Communion and its instruments of unity, in particular the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates' Meeting, with prayer that God may guide them in Spirit and in truth as they exercise their responsibilities in this matter.”

The following is the entire statement of Dr Noko, as released on Oct. 20, 2004:

Statement by Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation on

The Report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion

The Windsor Report 2004 of the Lambeth Commission on Communion was expected with interest, given the nature of the issues it was established to consider. The question of the unity of a Christian world communion faced with major challenges in the area of ethics is one that deserves great attention in the ecumenical world at the present time. The interrelationship between ethics, ecclesiology and church discipline requires the most careful reflection and deliberation.

The Commission deserves recognition for the transparent process it has adopted since its establishment, especially its public communication on the process at its different stages. It clearly has upheld a high level of sensitivity toward different views represented among its members and the broader constituency, as well as a strong commitment to the unity of the Anglican Communion and its witness to the gospel.

In the search for Christian unity, the internal unity of the different Christian world communions and church families must be seen as a genuine contribution to the unity of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. It is the conviction of Lutherans that the unity of the church is based on the holy gospel, which reveals and unites us through faith with the Triune God by proclamation of the Word and administration of the Sacraments. This is constitutive for each local and regional church, for the global communions and for the universal church.

The Windsor Report clearly takes its point of departure in such an understanding when it states in paragraph 45: "All those called by the gospel of Jesus Christ and set apart by God's gift of baptism are incorporated into the communion of the Body of Christ. This communion is primarily a relationship with God, who is himself a communion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and it binds every member of Christ into the whole body."

The Report makes it clear that at the present time the spiritual integrity of the Anglican Communion remains a reality, despite recent actions taken within the communion considered to be in breach of the bonds of communion. The Commission seeks resolution of the current challenges on the basis of the values of the gospel. This has led the Commission to a clear call for reconciliation rather than punishment.

The Commission chose from the outset not to reopen the question of homosexuality itself, but to base its work on the majority-based decision of the 1998 Lambeth Conference on the subject. The question may be asked whether this will be sufficient in the longer term. But at present the Lambeth Commission has achieved an important purpose, which is - amid the turmoil - to focus on, and draw guidance from that which is always constitutive for the church and the spiritual fellowship of its members: God's grace given to us as a gift in our Lord Jesus Christ.

I call on the Lutheran churches around the world to accompany the Anglican Communion and its instruments of unity, in particular the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates' Meeting, with prayer that God may guide them in Spirit and in truth as they exercise their responsibilities in this matter.