The 14-member Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee (LECC) recently met to learn about one of the most successful local partnerships under the Called to Common Mission (CCM) full-communion agreement.
The LECC meets at least twice a year, and reports annually to the participating churches on the status of interchurch activities.
Meeting at St. Paul's College in Washington, D.C., January 28-30, the Committee consulted with four local bishops, their ecumenical officers and the local LECC to learn about common mission and ministry in the area. Diocese of Washington Bishop John Chane, Metro Washington ELCA Synod Bishop Richard Graham, Diocese of Virginia Bishop Coadjutor Shannon Johnson and Diocese of Virginia Bishop Suffragan David Jones shared their current successes, challenges and plans for the future.
On January 29, members of the local coordinating committee engaged in dialogue with the LECC on a variety of topics including questions which have arisen in the context of working together in common mission in Virginia and Washington. Topics included a discussion of the dynamics present since both the Episcopal Church and the ELCA are involved in interim Eucharistic sharing agreements with the United Methodist Church and look forward to full communion agreements there in the future.
Participants said they hoped that in 2011 a 10th anniversary celebration of Called to Common Mission might be held at Washington National Cathedral where the relationship was liturgically inaugurated in January of 2001.
"Called to Common Mission actually urges the formation of such local committees," said Bishop Christopher Epting, ecumenical officer for the Episcopal Church. "Like politics, all ecumenical mission is local and, if there is frustration that full communion agreements such as CCM are not everywhere bearing fruit, at least part of the reason is the lack of local support from bishops, dioceses, and synods to engage in this kind of serious dialogue and planning together locally. We were thrilled to see that this is happening in Virginia and know of a number of other such locations across the country. We wish there were more."
The LECC urges the formation of similar groups around the country.
In addition to engaging with the local efforts, the LECC shared a daily Eucharist, using rites, presiders, and preachers from each tradition; reported on other national and international ecumenical progress in which each communion is engaged; and wrestled with the difficult issue of the "reception" of full-communion agreements at the "grass roots" or local congregational level.
The next LECC meeting is scheduled for October 14-15 in Des Moines, Iowa.