The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) have been reviewing the potential partnership since the mid-1980’s. Both denominations held their national conventions, the Anglican General Synod and the ELCIC’s national convention, separately in Waterloo where both voted on the declaration.
The decision marks not a “merger” or “union” but a “cooperation agreement,” said a story on the official Anglican website. Similar agreements already exist between Anglicans in Great Britain and Lutherans in Scandinavian countries, as well as between the two denominations in the U.S, allowing clergy and parishioners to work and worship in each other’s churches.
Anglican Primate, Archbishop Michael Peers, led the celebration service along with the national Lutheran Bishop Telmor Sartison. Calling the event “a day to remember,” Peers said it was also “a day when we are re-membered by Christ as a sign of God’s purpose for the whole church,” according to The Ottawa Citizen. Defining ‘re-member’ as a reforming of what had been dismembered, he said it “is the restoration of our wholeness,” in another article on the Anglican website.
In an earlier presidential address at the General Synod, Peers said the two denominations had come to the agreement “in a particularly Canadian way — allowing for convergence rather than insisting on it.”
“One of the root words for friend is the old English word ‘freond’ meaning both to ‘love’ and to ‘be free’. This is not a merger in which two partners lose their identity in the creation of something new. We each remain free to be who we are,” Peers said.
At the close of the celebration, Peers and Sartison sang the closing hymn, ‘We Are Marching in the Light of God,’ as they danced around the arena’s ice surface where the event was held, with television crews and newspaper photographers in tow, attempting to catch the moment.
Stating that Martin Luther had never intended to fragment the church, Joel Crouse, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Pembroke, On, indicated the decision marked “one of the most important [days] since the Reformation,” reported the Citizen.
The partnership comes with an added benefit for the ACC. The Lutheran Life Insurance Society of Canada, a member-owned insurance company, has given a $50,000 grant to the ACC. Stephen Taylor, the company’s president, said the donation was not intended to help with litigation costs arising from the residential schools abuse issue.