At the 2023 Synod, the Northern Province approved a full communion relationship between the Moravian Church Northern Province, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada. That full communion relationship was then approved by all three denominations at their respective assemblies.
The Full Communion agreement, titled “One Flock, One Shepherd: Lutherans, Anglicans and Moravians – Called to Walk Together in Full Communion” outlines and acknowledges the shared beliefs of each denomination. It affirms each others’ baptism, celebrations of Holy Community, lay ministries and “authenticity of the ordained ministries of bishops and presbyters/pastors” existing in each church.
“We rejoice in our Declaration as an expression of the visible unity of our churches in the one Body of Christ,” reads the conclusion of the agreement. “We are ready to be co-workers with God in whatever tasks of mission serve the Gospel and the Ministry of Reconciliation. We give glory to God for the gift of Unity already ours in Christ, and we pray for the further realization of this gift in the entire Church.”
Through the agreement, each church commits itself to:
- Welcome members of our churches to receive, as appropriate, the pastoral and sacramental ministrations of one another’s churches with complete hospitality;
- welcome persons ordained in any of our churches to the office of presbyter/priest/pastor to serve in the receiving church without re-ordination;
- work towards a common understanding of diaconal ministry;
- invite one another’s bishops to attend and participate as appropriate in the laying on of hands at the ordination of bishops as a sign of the unity and continuity of the Church;
- consult with one another regarding developments in our understanding of the ministry of all the baptized;
- encourage consultation and collaboration among members of our churches at all levels and to facilitate learning and exchange of ideas and information on theological, pastoral and mission matters;
- establish a Trilateral Commission, with appropriate Lutheran, Anglican, Moravian and Indigenous membership, to nurture our growth in communion, to coordinate the implementation of this Declaration, and to report to the decision-making bodies of each of our churches; and
- continue to work together for the full visible unity of the whole Church of God.
In the United States, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has been in full communion with the Moravian Church in North America since 1999. The US-based Episcopal Church has been in full communion with the Moravian Church since 2011. In 2019, the conversation began considering a similar relationship between the ELCIC, ACC and Canadian churches within the Moravian Church in North America.
As each denomination explored the potential new relationship, a Lutheran-Anglican-Moravian working group was tasked with creating resources for denominational leaders, clergy, congregations, and individuals. Representing the Moravian Church were the Revs. James Lavoy, Matt Gillard, Rowan Simmons and the Rt. Rev. Blair Couch.
The resolution to affirm the full communion relationship was approved on June 23 at the Northern Province Synod and on July 1 by the Assembly of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada held in Calgary, Alberta.
More information on this relationship can be found at https://www.anglicanlutheran.ca/partnerships/moravian-church/