The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America took a significant step toward strengthening their ecumenical relationship during a meeting at the ELCA headquarters in Chicago, April 29-May 2.
"We experienced, with deep appreciation, the worship and liturgical practice of one another's traditions. We laid important foundations in relationship building, both among ourselves as a dialogue team and in our ability to seek clarifying information about one another's denominational traditions and practices," said the Rev. Richard Guentert, regional minister and president in the Upper Midwest, Des Moines, Iowa and chair of the Disciples. "We truly experienced a marvelous sense of cohesiveness that fostered candidness and mutual respect throughout our conversations," he said.
The representatives discussed Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, as well as “Christian concepts related to covenants and confessions,” according to the ELCA news.
"There is an emerging consensus that there is a great deal in common between the Confessions of the Lutheran Church and the worship practices and hymnody of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in a shared understanding of Holy Communion," said the Rev. Steven L. Ullestad, bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Iowa Synod, Waverly, Iowa, and chair for the ELCA.
The dialogue centered around five papers written by members of the two churches:
"Baptism and the Breaking of Bread in Disciples Theology" by Rev. Clark M. Williamson, Indiana professor of Christian thought, emeritus; "The Sacramental Character of the Lutheran Church" by the Rev. David G. Truemper, professor and chair of theology, and director, Institute of Liturgical Studies, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind, "The Communion of the Baptized" by Ullestad, "The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: A Confessional Church" by the Rev. Kurt K. Hendel, professor of Reformation church history, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and "The Notion of Covenant" by the Rev. Charles Blaisdell, regional minister and president, Christian Church of Northern California-Nevada, San Ramon, Calif.
Following the meeting, Truemper agreed to write a paper to “express the sacramental convictions contained within the Lutheran Confessions.” Truemper will also pen a common statement on the Lord’s Supper with a representative of the Disciples, which he will present to the representatives at the next meeting.
Members of the dialogue for the Disciples were the Rev. Kristine A. Culp, dean, Disciples Divinity House, and senior lecturer in theology, University of Chicago Divinity School; Patricia Duncan, doctoral candidate, University of Chicago Divinity School; and the Rev. Williamson and the Rev. Robert K. Welsh, president, Disciples' Council on Christian Unity, Indianapolis.
Member of the dialogue for the ELCA were the Rev. Hendel; the Rev. Sarah S. Henrich, associate professor of New Testament, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.; the Rev.. Truemper; and The Rev. Randall R. Lee, director, ELCA department for ecumenical Affairs.
The next dialogue was scheduled for Nov. 4-6.