The first session of a four-part dialogue between representatives of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and the LCMS, Nov. 10-11 at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, brought together the heads of both church bodies — Archbishop Robert Duncan, primate of the ACNA, and Synod President Rev. Matthew C. Harrison.
The LCMS also was represented by Dr. Albert Collver III, director of Church Relations — assistant to the president; Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, executive director of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR); Dr. Lawrence Rast, CTCR chairman and professor at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne; and Rev. Larry Vogel, CTCR staff member. Dr. Frederic Baue, pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, Fairview Heights, Ill., served as Collver’s proxy for most of the meeting because of a scheduling conflict.
Official representatives of the ACNA were Bishop Wes Nolden of the Missionary Diocese of the Central States; Dr. Jonathan Riches, a professor at Reformed Episcopal Seminary; and Bishop Ray Sutton of the Diocese of Mid-America.
The theme of the session was “The Background and Identity of Our Churches.” As the host institution, Concordia Seminary provided speakers who addressed the LCMS perspective. Seminary President Dr. Dale Meyer provided a look at the LCMS identity in the 21st century, Dr. Gerhard Bode presented an overview of LCMS history, and Dr. Paul Robinson discussed historical connections between Lutherans and Anglicans. Bode and Robinson are with the seminary’s historical theology department.
Speaking for the ACNA, Nolden addressed the topic of his church body’s identity in the current century, Sutton gave a perspective on Anglican background and history, and Riches’ presentation considered Lutheran influence on an important Anglican theological statement, “The 39 Articles.”
“This dialogue is not intended to result in full communion, altar and pulpit fellowship,” said Lehenbauer. “Rather, it is hoped that our churches will be able to affirm one another in significant ways as fellow Christians, stand together against certain societal and ecclesial trends, and cooperate together in works of mercy.”
The ACNA, with 100,000 Anglicans in 700 parishes, was formally recognized as a “province-in-formation” in April 2009 by leaders of Anglican churches representing 70 percent of active Anglicans worldwide. It is based in Pennsylvania.
According to its website (http://anglicanchurch.net/), the church body “represents the reuniting of orthodox Anglicans who have been squeezed out of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada by successive changes to historic Christian teaching and Anglican practice.”
The next session of the dialogue, tentatively planned for May 12-13 on the campus of the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Blue Bell, Penn., will address the theme of “Authority in the Church.”
Posted Dec. 1, 2010