Leaders of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC) say they continue to be encouraged by ongoing discussions they have held among each other since 2010.
They met together in St. Louis Feb. 8-9 for the first of two planned discussions this year to consider on the basis of Holy Scripture points of agreement and disagreement among their churches — as they have done ever since their discussions began. On the evening of Feb. 8, they also participated in a “Faith and Freedom Forum” convened by their church bodies at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.
The ACNA — with about 112,000 members in 1,000 congregations — formed in 2009. Former members of the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada who disagreed with what they saw as increasingly unbiblical views of those churches joined with the Reformed Episcopal Church and several other Anglican groups to establish the new church that would be faithful to the Scriptures and the traditional beliefs of the Anglican tradition.
For the Feb. 8-9 discussions, the representatives of the three churches “spent much of their time going over a draft report on the state of our discussions,” said the Rev. Larry Vogel, associate executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations. He added that the discussions have surfaced “wide areas of agreement.”
“I’m very impressed and encouraged by the theology of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, that’s based on Holy Scripture,” said ACNA Archbishop Rev. Dr. Foley Beach. This was his first opportunity to participate in the discussions. Beach added that he found the Synod’s scriptural stances “so strong” and that such similarities in stances between the two churches are “surprising and encouraging.”
“It’s always a pleasure meeting sincere Christians who take the Bible very seriously and also take the creeds and historic positions of the church seriously,” said LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison. “We have much in common. We need each other as we go forward and face the challenges that Christians face in this world today.”
Lutheran Church—Canada President Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee also said he has found the discussions to be “a tremendous encouragement. … I’m grateful that we’ve come this far.”
In 2012, the three churches issued a joint statement affirming “core teaching of the Christian faith shared by our church bodies.” In 2013, they joined together again in “An Affirmation of Marriage.” The North American Lutheran Church also signed the “Affirmation.”
In addition to Beach, Harrison, Bugbee and Vogel, participants in this most recent discussion session were the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Riches, Bishop Rev. Dr. Ray Sutton and the Rev. Peter Frank for the ACNA; the Rev. Dr. Fred Baue and the Rev. Kevin Robson for the LCMS; and the Rev. Dr. John Stephenson for LCC.
The next meeting of representatives of the three churches is planned for October at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
Posted Feb. 11, 2016