Essential Link of Church Unity and Service seen at Final Meeting in Jerusalem
GENEVA, 1 July 2011 (LWI) – The third Anglican – Lutheran International Commission (ALIC) held its sixth and final meeting in Jerusalem, 18-25 June.
The commission focused on the writing of its final report, “To Love and Serve the Lord,” which looks at the essential connection between koinonia (church unity) and diakonia (church service and witness). Including stories of diakonia from around the world, the report is written with the hope of reaching not only the international church bodies and church leaders but also institutions of theological education and even congregations seeking to deepen their commitment to discipleship.
The commission has been meeting since 2006. It was established by the Anglican Consultative Council and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) to continue the dialogue between Anglicans and Lutherans on a worldwide level, in progress since 1970. ALIC is co-chaired by Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, Primate of Canada and Bishop Dr Thomas Nyiwe, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon.
The meeting was hosted by the Anglican Communion with support of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. Commission members heard of the struggles of Christians in Jerusalem and Palestine, which have compelled many to leave the region. They also heard about the dedication of the local churches to advocate for a just peace among all, to seek good relations among all the faith communities, and to offer higher quality education and health care to the whole society,” an ALIC communiqué states.
Members of the commission visited the Jerusalem Princess Basma Center for Disabled Children and the Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives, as well as the Dar al-Kalima College and the International Center Bethlehem.
LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan celebrated the final Eucharist for the commission and hosted them for a festive farewell dinner. Bishop Suheil Dawani, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, invited local church leaders for an ecumenical reception, and the commission was addressed by His Beatitude Theophilos III, the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem. Addressing the commission, both Dawani and Younan expressed hope for closer relations between their two churches.
Dr Kathryn Johnson, Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs for the LWF, said this commission had provided an admirable example of how an international commission can speak to the pressing concerns of churches around the world.
The decision of the group to focus on diakonia invites Lutherans and Anglicans everywhere to collaborate more closely in their diaconal work. By stressing the close, reciprocal links of worship and diakonia, the report also underlines the importance of relationships of communion between Anglicans and Lutherans – existing already in a number of regions and now encouraged for other contexts.
The report “To Love and Serve the Lord,” is expected to be finalized by the end of this year. (481 words)