CENTRAL ECUADOR: Episcopalians, Lutherans celebrate intercommunion agreement

April 6, 2009

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ecuador and the Episcopal Diocese of Central Ecuador celebrated an agreement of intercommunion and fraternity in the Lutheran Church in Quito on April 3.

The celebration was held at the Evangelical Lutheran church in Quito, Ecuador's capital. The church includes a German-speaking Lutheran congregation (Evangelisch-Lutherische Adventsgemeinde), a Spanish-speaking Lutheran congregation (la Iglesia Luterana El Adviento), and an English-speaking ecumenical and liturgical community church congregation (Advent St. Nicholas Church).

The celebration's liturgy began with an introduction by the Rev. Dr. Rüdiger Schloz, pastor of the German-speaking congregation and with words by the Rev. Canon Geoffrey Reeson, Episcopal priest and pastor emeritus of the English-speaking congregation.

The liturgy was prepared principally by the Rev. Brian Turnbow, current pastor of the English-speaking congregation.

After Scripture readings by members of both churches, Episcopal Church Bishop Wilfrido Ramos-Orench said it is hoped that the agreement that he called "an instrument to build up our churches and our ministries" would also be an example to others "of our Christian call to be one."

In his sermon, the Rev. Felipe Adolf, pastor of the Spanish-speaking Lutheran congregation, said that "it is easy to be divided, but so difficult to seek unity" and live in the reality "that in Christ there is one single body." Nevertheless, "within us all there is a desire to be one" and we need to continue with "a predisposition for peace and unity." Indicating the long trajectory that preceded this moment, Adolf said that the agreement is "one more step towards the concretization of fraternity" and can be "a support in helping us move past our limitations."

As a visible sign of the unity expressed by this commitment of intercommunion, after representatives of both churches signed the agreement, the celebration concluded with Holy Communion.

"We welcome this agreement between Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ecuador and the Episcopal Diocese of Central Ecuador, which is part of a larger series of conversations between Anglicans and Lutherans which are going on globally, including our agreement with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America," Thomas Ferguson, the Episcopal Church's associate deputy for ecumenical and interfaith relations, told ENS. "It speaks to the increasingly globalized nature of our world and the opportunities for shared mission and ministry."

The agreement to which Ferguson referred is the full communion relationship, in effect since 2001, between the Episcopal Church and the ELCA. Known as "Called to Common Mission," the agreement calls for both churches to retain their autonomy and structures but agree to work together for join mission and witness in the world.