The full communion between the Moravian Church (Northern and Southern Provinces) and the Episcopal Church in America has been strengthened with the establishment of the Moravian Episcopal Coordinating Committee (MECC), which first met in January.
“Finding Our Delight in the Lord,” the proposal accepted by both denominations establishing full communion, called for the creation of such a group “to assist in joint planning for mission.” The Northern and Southern Provinces approved full communion between the Moravian Church and Episcopal Church during their 2010 Synods.
In its first meeting on January 16 and 17, 2013 in Home Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., committee members discussed ways to promote awareness of the meaning of full communion in local congregations and reviewed resources available to aid in this promotion.
Considerable time was spent exploring the meaning of ordination, the functions of the clergy, and the processes for placing pastors in local congregations within the two denominations. How these issues might impact the exchange of clergy between the two traditions was also reviewed.
The Rev. David Guthrie, President of the Southern Province Provincial Elders’ Conference, met with the Committee to review the process whereby Moravian pastor, the Rev. Carl Southerland, has been installed as Rector of an Episcopal parish in western North Carolina (as reported in the November 2012 Moravian magazine).
In the future the Committee will undertake the appointment of a task force including several committee members and others to deal with issues surrounding the exchange of clergy. This group will be charged with writing a document outlining the procedures to be followed in such an exchange modeled after the process already in place for exchanges between Moravian pastors and those of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Coordinating Committee Members
The Rev. Janel Rice (pastor, Central Church, Bethlehem) and the Rev. Dr. David A. Schattschneider (Dean Emeritus, Moravian Theological Seminary) are Northern Province committee members. The Southern Province members are the Rt. Rev. Wayne Burkette (retired PEC President) and Ms. Liz Leonard (Wake Forest Medical School administrator). Episcopal Church members include Ms. Josephine Hicks (attorney from Charlotte, NC), the Rev. Jonah Kendall (Rector, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Durham, NC), the Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller (Bishop of the Diocese of Milwaukee), and the Rev. Maria Tjeltveit (Rector, Episcopal Church of the Mediator, Allentown, Pa. and Ecumenical Officer for the Diocese of Bethlehem).
Bishop Miller and Rev. Tjeltveit were members of the original Theological Dialog group which wrote the full communion proposal so their involvement brings continuity to this new effort. The Rev. Margaret Rose of the Episcopal Church Center staff also helped facilitate this initial meeting. Miller and Schattschneider will serve as Committee co-chairs.
As the Moravian-Episcopal Coordinating Committee continues its work helping the two churches live into their full communion relationship, they will share findings and initiatives.
The Rev. Dr. David A. Schattschneider, dean emeritus of Moravian Theological Seminary, is a member of the Moravian-Episcopal Coordinating Committee. He lives in Bethlehem, Pa.
From the April 2013 Moravian Magazine