Unity Faith and Order - Dialogues - Anglican Lutheran
Also Available as a PDF
The Niagara Report
I The Nature of the Church and its Mission
II Requirements for the Church's Mission
III The Truths We Share
IV Application to Anglicans and
V Practical Steps
Two linked events took place at Niagara Falls in autumn 1987 in the
course of the international dialogue between Anglicans and Lutherans. The
first was a major consultation on episcope (24th - 29th September), and
this was immediately followed (30th September - 3rd October) by a meeting
of the Anglican - Lutheran International Continuation Committee to produce
At the consultation some three dozen theologians, historians and church
leaders met to tackle the issue of episcope, the chief remaining obstacle
to full communion between Anglicans and Lutherans. The intention of this
gathering may be summarised thus:
- to shed some fresh light on the relationship between the topics of
apostolic succession, the ministry of the whole people of God, episcopacy
and the historic episcopate;
- to set this material in the broad perspective of the Church's mission,
taking seriously the diversity of its cultural settings;
- and to evaluate in the light of contemporary ecumenical dialogue the
current practice of episcope amongst Anglicans and Lutherans, so as to
offer pointers for the future reform and joint exercise of episcope in
the service of our common mission.
A wealth of talent and wisdom was contributed to this task, and a real
meeting of minds took place on several facets of the subject. There was
strong representation from Asia and Africa, where the tempo of Anglican
- Lutheran co-operation is visibly quickening. The active participation
of Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox consultants proved to be very creative.
Indeed, the emerging ecumenical consensus reassured Anglicans and Lutherans
that their efforts to draw closer to one another in regard to the practical
exercise of episcope was fully consistent with, and actually assisted by,
their current bilateral dialogues with the Roman Catholic Church. Two other
factors were specially helpful to the consultation: the daily sharing of
worship according to the Anglican and Lutheran traditions, and the peaceful
and hospitable atmosphere of Mount Carmel retreat house where we stayed.
Those who took part found this to be a fruitful and stimulating occasion,
and it was agreed that the papers contributed should be made available
in due course to a wider public by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC)
and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).
The Anglican - Lutheran Continuation Committee met after the consultation
to distil its findings and recommend attainable goals to ACC and LWF. It
will be for these parent bodies as well as for individual member churches
to decide whether this 'Niagara Report' represents any breakthrough in
understanding, and how far and how soon its proposals should be implemented.
We wish to record our warm and grateful thanks to all who contributed
to the consultation, and to the secretarial staff, Irmhild Reichen-Young
and Vanessa Wilde.
Bishop of Grimbsby
Presiding Bishop Evangeligal Lutheran Church in Tanzania
Abbreviations used in this Report
ACC - Anglican Consultative Council
ALERC - Anglican - Lutheran European Regional Commission
ALIC - Anglican - Lutheran International Conversations
ALICC - Anglican - Lutheran International Continuation Committee
ARCIC - Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission
BEM - Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry: Faith and Order Paper No. Ill
CA - Confessio Augustana: The Augsburg Confession, 1530.
LED II - Lutheran - Episcopal Dialogue Second Series, 1976 - 1980.
LWF - Lutheran World Federation
LRCJC - Lutheran - Roman Catholic Joint Commission
- Official Anglican - Lutheran conversations on the international level
extend back over two decades. The first - the Anglican - Lutheran International
Conversations 1970 -1972 (ALIC) - authorized by the Lambeth Conference
and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) produced the Pullach Report.1 Building
upon it, the international relationship was intensified by a planning group
meeting in 1975 and, more especially, by a Joint Working Group in 1983,
which recommended to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) and the LWF
that they establish an International Continuation Committee. It should
both enable further international conversation and help to make the results
of the various national and regional Anglican -Lutheran dialogues contribute
to progress elsewhere.
- At its first meeting in Wimbledon, England, 1986, the Anglican - Lutheran
International Continuation Committee (ALICC) laid plans for a joint consultation
on episcope, regarded as the chief obstacle to full communion (see its
report, Appendix III). Its members are listed in Appendix II. That international
consultation took place in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada in September
1987 and provided the basis for this report. The participants are listed
in Appendix I.
- Numerous dialogues between Anglicans and Lutherans during the past
twenty years have discovered how much we share in doctrine, worship, mission,
and the understanding and functioning of ministry. The Anglican - Lutheran
European Regional Commission (ALERC) concluded that 'there are no longer
any serious obstacles on the way towards the establishment of full communion
between our two Churches' (Helsinki Report, 1982). A further expression
of the wide extent of agreement is contained in Section III (paragraphs
60-80) of this present report. But the documents resulting from these official
encounters have repeatedly identified differences in the practice of episcope
(that is, pastoral leadership, co-ordination and oversight), especially
the presence or absence of bishops in the historic episcopate, as the chief
(if not the only remaining) obstacle to full communion. By historic episcopate
we mean an episcopate which traces its origins back through history to
at least the end of the second century. We use the phrase apostolic succession
in the 'substantive sense' identified by the Lutheran - Roman Catholic
Joint Commission (LRCJC) document The Ministry in the Church (59,60) to
signify 'the apostolicity of the Church in faith' (see further Baptism,
Eucharist and Ministry (BEM) M 34-5; paragraphs 19, 20 below; Helsinki
Report, 40 and 43; Pullach Report, 1973, 87-89; LED II, 1980, pp. 61-62).
Thus attention to this topic has been recognized as necessary if we are
- continue movement towards full communion between our respective Churches;
- facilitate the ongoing development of common life and mission in various
regions where our Churches function in the same geographical areas; and
- open up structural possibilities for the more complete future realization
of full communion especially in the countries where our Churches exist
side by side.
- The differences between us in the dimension of episcope include not
only the presence or absence of bishops in the historic episcopate but
also differences in the significance our Churches attach to such bishops.
These differences serve as the focal point for mutual fears and suspicions,
prejudices and distorted perceptions. They also seem to threaten existing
agreements with other Churches as well as ecumenical expectations expressed
in dialogues of both our Churches with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox
- We have identified, through the work of our predecessors in dialogue
and with the assistance of our colleagues in the most recent consultation,
some perspectives on this topic which we believe can help our Churches
to overcome their differences, as well as ground and shape full communion,
and assist its structural expression.
- In the document which follows, initial and major attention is given
to the mission of the Church and its first realization in the communities
of the New Testament period (Section I). We give mission such prominence
because at Wimbledon 1986 (see Appendix III), our survey of the situation
of our Churches throughout the world impressed upon us the fact that the
agenda and the timetable for full communion between Anglicans and Lutherans
is experienced differently in different parts of the world. However, the
urgency of giving attention to the nature of the Church's mission is universal.
Indeed, the crisis of the Church in mission is at least as great in those
countries in Europe and North America where the need for full communion
may be less urgently perceived. At Wimbledon, therefore, we determined
that the theme for the consultation on episcope would be 'Episcope in Relation
to the Mission of the Church'. What we are presenting in Section I
- reflects a significant portion of our work at Niagara,
- offers a renewed perspective on the mission of the Church as the gift
of Christ, and
- provides the necessary context for both our understanding of
episcope and our proposals for the realization of full communion between
We conclude that it is a mistake to hold that there is only one criterion
which must be satisfied, that of an unbroken chain of ordinations from
the apostles' time, if one Church is to recognize another as truly apostolic.
- Then we seek to identify the major requirements for carrying out the
mission of the Church in so far as they concern episcope or the ministry
of pastoral leadership, cooperation, and oversight (Section II). These
are doxology, continuity, disciplined life together, nurture, and faithfulness
to the goal of human history given in Jesus Christ. We show how the office
of bishop in the early Church sought to hold local churches firm in the
koinonia or communion of the faithful in all ages (diachronic catholicity)
and in all places (synchronic catholicity). We consider subsequent developments
in the episcopal office and evaluate Anglican and Lutheran forms of succession
in the presiding ministry since the Reformation.
- The document continues with a summary of 'the truths we share', identifying
the common tradition of faith, confession, sacramental life, and perspective
on order which Anglicans and Lutherans have discovered in each other (Section
- All this is preparatory to the proposals we make to Anglicans and to
Lutherans for the immediate establishment of full communion (Section IV).
We conclude this section with a series of proposals for reform which both
traditions need to consider in order to renew the ministry of episcope.
- Finally, we identify for our Churches the legislative actions needed,
the structures for shared mission and ministry, and the concrete liturgical
recognition which would inaugurate our full communion (Section V).
The Nature of the Church and its Mission
- Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has bestowed
on us in Christ every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. (Eph.
1.3). The Christian Church is first of all overwhelmingly conscious of
the splendour of God's gifts - in Christ we have been chosen to be dedicated
and full of love, to be accepted as heirs of God, to be forgiven, to be
part of a plan that the whole universe be brought into a unity, and to
receive the seal of the Holy Spirit as a pledge that we shall indeed enter
into that inheritance. But to realize the magnificence of these gifts the
Church continually needs yet another gift, that of spiritual insight. Only
so will we have any conception of the resources of power open to those
who trust in Christ, resources the scale of which are only measured by
the fact that everything has already been put in subjection to him, and
that this same Christ is the supreme head of the Church which is his body
- The life of the Church is based upon this already victorious engagement
with the powers of sin and death. It is the free and unmerited grace of
God which, through Christ's sacrificial death on the cross, once for all,
brings us into union with him. This is how we come to be no longer aliens,
but citizens together with God's own chosen people. To be the Church is
to be part of the story of the people of God entering into their inheritance
within God's world.
- But it is precisely that story which reminds us of the difficulties
which are to be encountered. The people of Israel, God's chosen people,
were repeatedly blind or disobedient, compromised with local rulers, persecuted
prophets and suffered horrific disasters. Jesus' own life of teaching,
healing and acceptance of the outcast and sinner brought him into deadly
rivalry with the prevailing authorities. The disciples whom he sent out
were instructed to expect to be rejected as well as received; and the New
Testament communities which preserved the stories of Jesus did so in a
form which illustrates the fact that jealousy, disputes and misunderstandings
were part of their experience even after receiving the gift of the Holy
- There must therefore be a two-fold consciousness in the mind of every
Christian; on the one hand of the magnificence of God's gifts, on the other
of the need to be prepared for difficulty, struggle and temptation. Honest
reading of the history of the Christian Church compels us to admit that
that Church, like the people of Israel, has repeatedly been blind or disobedient,
has compromised with local rulers, persecuted its prophets and suffered
horrific disasters. From that history we learn the necessity for continuous
vigilance and the need for penitence.
- It is the whole Christian Church which has been sent on its mission
and been given the necessary gifts. God's plan is the unification of all
things in Christ; that, and nothing less, is the goal. Before that goal
is realized the Church has the task of embodying in all that it is, says
and does the promise that the goal is realizable. The whole Church is witness
to that promise, and every member (limb or organ) of it is inescapably
part of how that goal will be understood.
- In this sense the Church as a whole may be compared to a system of
communication, no part of which is strictly irrelevant to the conveying
of coherent meaning. When human beings communicate with one another it
is important, if one is to avoid confusion, that words, gestures, facial
expressions, and symbolic gifts should not contradict each other. Similarly
when the Church wishes to be heard in a given culture, it is important
that the whole of its 'language' be coherently interrelated so that its
message makes sense.
- Every member of the Church is an integral part of its witness and its
mission; and every member has received a gift of the Holy Spirit so that
the whole may flourish. 'All members are called to discover, with the help
of the community, the gifts they have received and to use them for the
building up of the Church and for the service of the world to which the
Church is sent' (BEM, M 5. See the whole section, M 1-6, for an expression
of the sense that every Christian is involved in the Church's witness to
God's plan for humankind.)
- The outbreak of misunderstandings, personal rivalries and disputes
is a threat to the coherence of the Christian mission. It is already clear
from the New Testament that the early Christian communities were having
to resolve urgent and complex problems specifically relating to their mission
and witness. The picture we gain from the study of the New Testament is
of communities wrestling with the problems of internal discipline at the
same time as carrying out their mission of witness to the love of God in
- It is in this context that the development of an authoritative, but
not authoritarian, ministry must be understood. It is plain that there
were from the first those who held specific authority in the churches and
who fulfilled their calling in and for the whole community (BEM, M 9).
Authority was not a matter of the acquisition of status, but the bestowal
of responsibilities. These responsibilities were to be exercised in such
a way as to serve the mission of the whole Church in its numerous, diverse,
but essentially inter-related acts and attributes. They included the maintenance
of 'witness to the apostolic faith, proclamation and fresh interpretation
of the Gospel, celebration of baptism and the eucharist, the transmission
of ministerial responsibilities, communion in prayer, love, joy and suffering,
service to the sick and the needy, unity among the local churches and sharing
the gifts which the Lord has given to each' (BEM, M 34).
- Study of the life of the early Christian communities reflected in the
pages of the New Testament should make it unthinkable for us to isolate
ordination at the hands of someone in linear succession to the apostles
as the sole criterion of faithfulness to the apostolic commission. So many
investigations have now confirmed this conclusion that the burden of proof
has passed to those who would argue otherwise. Ministries of pastoral leadership,
coordination and oversight have continuously been part of the Church's
witness to the gospel. Indeed we may say that the mission of the Church
required the coherence of its witness in every aspect of its life, and
that this coherence required supervision. But the New Testament does not
entitle us to assert that such supervision was carried out by a uniform
structure of government inherited directly from or transmitted by the apostles
(on the development of structures see further paragraphs 41-59). Thus to
speak of 'apostolic succession' is to speak primarily of characteristics
of the whole Church; and to recognize a Church as being 'in the apostolic
succession' is to use not one criterion of discernment, but many (cf. BEM,
- It is therefore essential for those Christian Churches which do not
enjoy full communion with one another to reappropriate the substantial
basis for understanding the apostolic mission of the Church with which
the New Testament provides us. Mission indeed comes to special expression
in the Church's apostolicity. For apostolicity means that the Church is
sent by Jesus to be for the world, to participate in his mission and therefore
in the mission of the One who sent Jesus, to participate in the mission
of the Father and the Son through the dynamic of the Holy Spirit.
- The Church receives its apostolicity, its mission, as the gift of him
who is 'far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above
every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is
to come'. For the Father 'has put all things under his feet and has made
him the head over all things for the Church, which is his body, the fullness
of him who fills all in all' (Eph. 1.21-23). Christ can confer his mission
upon the Church because by raising him from the dead the Father conferred
the final yes upon Christ's way of self-offering love. All powers and dominions
in this age believe, in the last analysis, that death has the last word.
The appropriate expression of such belief is humanity's unrelenting drive
for self-preservation. But if the Christ has the last word, then the appropriate
expression is rather self-offering, confident in the knowledge that there
is more to do with life than preserve it. Those who seek to save their
lives will lose them anyway. But those who offer their lives for Christ's
sake will find their true selves, will find life itself (Matt. 16.24-26
- The apostolicity of the Church is the mission of self-offering (not
self-preservation) for the life of the world. The Church thus serves the
reign of God, not the reign of sin and death. The Church serves the mission
of God's suffering and vulnerable love, not a mission of its own devising.
The Church serves the mission grounded in and shaped by Christ's way of
being in the world.
- The Kingdom of God is thus the over-arching theme of history. The Church's
mission is to witness to that reign by its words and rites (proclamation
and sacraments), by its structures and governance (Mark 10.35-45, especially
43), by its being as well as its doing. The Church has been given the insight
into both the grounding and character of the Kingdom of God (Christ as
'Alpha' and 'way') as well as the final eschatological victory of the Kingdom
of God (Christ as 'Omega' and 'fullness' or 'consummation') Because of
its gift of apostolic mission that Church is called to apostolic mission.
In the same way the gift of unity is the basis for the call to be unifying,
the gift of holiness is the basis for the call to be consecrating, and
the gift of catholicity is the basis for the call to be whole, orthodox
II Requirements for the Church's Mission
- The gift of Christ is that he sends his disciples as he has been sent
(John 20.21), that they are to witness to God's forgiving judgement and
verdict by setting at liberty all who are in the bondage of sin, that they
are to witness to God's confounding and defeat of evil by unmasking the
demonic powers and joining the struggle against them. In Christ the Church
is called to have and to serve the 'keys' of the kingdom of God (Matt.
16.18). In Christ the Church is called to be a sign, an instrument and
a foretaste of the kingdom of God.
- The Church awakens to the astonishing discovery that its mission is
a gift, that it has indeed been given the pearl of great price, the treasure
hidden in a field (Matt. 13.44-46) and that this discovery is the reason
for gathering others in order to participate in the joy (Luke 15.8-10).
In order to be such a Church it becomes conscious that certain things are
required of it. These 'requirements' follow as consequences upon the discovery
that its mission is in fact a gift.
- The Church praises God 'for our creation, preservation, and all the
blessings of this life; but above all for (God's) inestimable love in the
redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace,
and for the hope of glory' (Book of Common Prayer, General Thanksgiving).
It has been given the word of Christ for teaching, admonition, wisdom as
it sings and preaches, in prison and out of it (Acts 16.25), 'with thankfulness
... to God' (Col. 3.16). It is called 'in word or deed (to) do everything
in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through
him' (Col. 3.17). It has been baptized a royal priesthood as a people claimed
by God for his own to proclaim the triumphs of one who has called us out
of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Pet. 2.9). It has been given the
meal by which it receives with thanksgiving the final, full and costly
sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In this meal the Church has been given
its identity as the community which anticipates the heavenly banquet of
consummated salvation (Isa. 25.6-8; Matt. 26.29; Mark 14.25; Luke 22.16,
18; Matt. 14.19 and parallels; Luke 13.29; Luke 14.15-24; John 6.30-59;
Rev. 19.9). In this meal the Church has been given the promise that in
Christ God will receive the offering of the whole people whom God calls
and uses in the apostolic mission of the Kingdom (Rom. 12.1-21). In the
doxological prayer of the Kingdom the Son gives the Church the Father's
name as the One who sent him in the power of the Spirit (Luke 11.1-13);
The Church praises the Triune Name and prays in that name in order to be
grasped and shaped by it for participation in the divine mission.
- The God who calls the Church to its divine mission is faithful. God
is faithful to God's own being and identity. The act of calling the universe
into being is an act of vulnerable, risk-taking love (John 1.9-18; Col.
1.15-20; Heb. 13.8). God is faithful in covenant and promise, not abandoning
Israel, but giving up the Son 'for us all' (Rom. 8.31-39) so that the Gentiles
might be grafted on to the 'olive tree' of the people of God (Rom. 11.1-32).
It is God's faithfulness which is 'unsearchable' and 'inscrutable' and
which evokes our praise (Rom. 11.33-36). The Church is given the gift of
God's fidelity in order to be faithful. It has God's continuity in order
to continue in Christ's word and to abide in koinonia or communion with
Christ and with each other - and thus to experience and express both truth
and freedom (John 8.31-33). The context in which the continuity of ministerial
office is presented in the Pastoral Epistles is faithful teaching and confession
(1 Tim. 4.6-16; 6.3-16; 2 Tim. 2.1-6; Titus 2.1).
- Because the Church's call to faithfulness and continuity is grounded
in God's faithfulness and continuity, it is possible for the Church to
cherish both those symbols of continuity which the Church has been given
and also those experiences in its past in which God's faithfulness has
persevered despite the Church's brokenness, ambiguity, perversity and unfaithfulness.
The Church acknowledges with thanksgiving the canonical Scriptures through
which Torah and prophets, apostolic proclamation and gospel narrative have
been identified, gathered and transmitted. The Church exists because of
the unbroken continuity of the gift of baptism and the Lord's Supper. The
Church has been given the gift of orthodox confession in the form of dogmatic
response to heresies which threatened the gospel. The Church receives gratefully
whatever historical continuity its bishops and presbyters have been given.
- Such symbols of continuity are, however, only part of the life of the
Church, and need constantly to be interpreted afresh so that their meaning
and impact may be always experienced as the liberating gospel of God's
grace. Like any living being, the Church only remains what it is through
change and adjustment. The mere preservation of symbols of continuity may
diminish their effectiveness. The history of the Christian Church contains
the record of God's faithfulness in spite of human faithlessness. God has
persevered with the Church even when the Scriptures have been mutilated,
ignored, traduced or idolized; even when baptism has been administered
promiscuously or received frivolously; even when the Lord's Supper has
become routine or been neglected; even when the loss of the connection
between gospel and dogma has led to inquisition and authoritarianism on
the one hand, rejection and apostasy on the other hand. In the context
of our study of episcope we have been led to trust God's faithfulness also
when bishops in historic succession have been unfaithful in an effluvium
of evil, or when churches forced to endure ruptures in the tradition grew
comfortable with their supposed autonomy. The gospel of God's faithfulness
is at the same time his call to the Church to repent and be reconciled.
Disciplined Life Together as a Community of Disciples
- The Church's mission is given by God to a community. This has its basis
in both the mission and the obedience of Jesus. The mission of Jesus was
directed to Israel as a people, to Israel's renewal of and recalling of
its mission (Luke 2.29-32; Matt. 10.5-15 and parallels; Matt. 15.24). Through
the renewal of Israel and the calling of the twelve the eschatological
vision of the gathering of the Gentiles and the overcoming of alienation
was to be realized (Eph. 2.11-3.13). The separate existence of synagogue
(which does not acknowledge Jesus as Messiah) and Church (which confesses
Jesus as Messiah) is a painful reminder that our sinfulness continues to
frustrate the mission of God, that we live in the tension between the inauguration
and consummation of the Kingdom of God, that the Church itself is an ambiguous
and incomplete sign of the Kingdom of God. The temptation to autonomous
individualism and anarchy on the one hand and to oppressive collectivism
on the other hand means that the Church requires discipline in its corporate
life and at the same time that such discipline needs to be grounded in
the obedience of Christ. The Church is a community of disciples (Matt.
28.19-20). Its discipleship is described by the 'Torah' of the Kingdom
of God (e.g. Matt. 5-7) and the apostolic description of life in the disciple
community (e.g. Rom. 12-15; Gal. 5-6, Col. 2.20-4.6; Eph. 4-6). The discipline
is both grounded in and shaped by Christ. Leadership is not to be like
that of the Gentiles (Mark 10.43). It is 'in the Lord' (1 Thess. 5.12-13;
Eph. 5.21). It begins with the mind of Christ who took the form of a servant
and was obedient to a slave's death (Phil. 2.1-11). Yet it is discipline
replete with admonition (Mark and Matthew are written to communities to
correct them and their leadership, as are Galatians, both Corinthian letters,
1 Thessalonians, and more) and making painful decisions necessary (e.g.
1 Cor. 5.1-2). The freedom of the gospel is the freedom of all in the community
to be committed to the holiness of one another and the wholeness of the
community (Gal. 6.1-5). Love is never indifferent.
- Here again the Church discovers that the resource for its mission has
already been given it. For Christ himself is the living bread, given for
the life of the world (John 6.51). He is the living water, of which, if
anyone drinks, that person will never thirst again (John 4.14). Christ
is, moreover, the door of the sheepfold, through which the sheep will pass
to find somewhere safe to graze (John 10.9). These images of nurture become
the task of the Church by virtue of the commission to Peter to feed Christ's
lambs (John 21.15). Nurture lies at the root of the exhortation for tenderness
towards the 'little ones', by which may be meant not just children but
the young in the faith. Whether such persons may be fed milk or are ready
for meat calls for the exercise of discernment (1 Cor. 3.2; Heb. 3.12).
- The apparently reassuring imagery of shepherding conceals sharp judgements
and urgent demands. The reason why sheep become the prey of wild beasts
is because of bad shepherds who consume the milk, wear the wool, slaughter
the fat beasts or drive them with ruthless severity (Ezek. 34.1-10). This
indeed is the reason why the Lord himself is the shepherd of his people
who, unlike the hireling, is ready to give his life for the sheep. Human
shepherds of God's flock need to be reminded of his example and to guard
against the temptations of power, if they are to receive the approval of
the Chief Shepherd at his appearance (1 Pet. 5.1-4).
- The life of the Church can draw not merely upon Christ as a resource,
but also must look toward Christ as the goal of its growth. Its maturity
will be measured by nothing less than the full stature of Christ (Eph.
4.13). Nor is this conceived of as individual growth; it is, rather, the
'building up of the body of Christ', in which there is a variety of gifts
each designed 'to equip God's people for work in God's service' (Eph. 4.12).
There is, of course, a possibility, of which St Paul himself clearly has
examples in mind, that such gifts might be deployed competitively: the
eye and the hand in fact need each other and may have to be told so (1
Cor. 12.14-26). Even the simple acts of planting and watering the seed
of the Word need to be seen as cooperative ('they work as a team', 1 Cor.
3.8 NEB). The mission of the Church requires a continuous effort to conceive
all the Holy Spirit's gifts as part of a single enterprise and the overcoming
of the tendency of human beings to jealousy and overbearing behaviour.
The task of nurture is thus inseparable from that disposition of mind which
is ready to reckon others better than oneself (Phil. 2.3).
Direction and Goal
- The journey on which the Church is engaged has a goal and a direction
which shape the whole character of the mission of the people of God from
the beginning. In the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus the Church
has been given a vision of the outcome of history. All things are to be
brought into a unity in Christ (Eph. 1.10). It is, therefore, to Jesus
Christ that we look while running with resolution the race for which we
are entered (Heb. 12.1-2). In him we have the confidence to view the future
as the triumph of the Kingdom of God (Rev. 5; Rev. 7.13-17: cf. Isa. 25.6-8).
We are the people who know the final outcome of the story, without yet
knowing the details of the plot. Indeed, because the Church has been let
in on the outcome of the story of the world, the Church's life and witness
change the plot of history.
- Because the outcome of history has been disclosed in Jesus, the Church
is called to anticipate the future of the Messianic age by sharing the
Messianic banquet (see 27 above), the Lord's Supper. But when the Church
does not include 'those who have nothing', when it does not care about
the world's poor, then it no longer partakes of the Lord's Supper. The
Church not only profanes 'the body and blood of the Lord', it also denies
its own identity as the people of the new age, the Messianic age (1 Cor.
- Because the outcome of history has been disclosed in Jesus, the Church
receives a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the
dead (1 Pet. 1.3-9). In Jesus' death and resurrection the power of death
to determine the future has been broken. Death cannot have the last word
for those who believe the resurrection. We now live toward the future differently,
as a self-offering, not a self-protective, people. Our future is shaped
by the one who has death behind him. He has become the 'first fruits' of
those who sleep (1 Cor. 15.20-28). Hence the Church is free to offer itself
even to death, its ultimate witness (martyria) to its hope. The Church
is thus free to relate to enemies in a radically new way (1 Pet. 2.20-25;
3.9-12; Matt. 5.38-48; Luke 6.29-30; Rom. 12.17). The Church witnesses
to the Messianic age by its commitment to peace (Micah 3.3-4; Isa. 2.2-4).
- Because the outcome of history has been disclosed in Jesus, the Church
is committed to justice for victims, and to liberation for the oppressed
(Luke 1.51-53; 4.16-21; Matt. 11.5). The Church seeks to express in its
own life the overcoming of every alienation, whether racist, sexist, or
economic (Gal. 3.27-28).
- Because the outcome of history has been disclosed in Jesus, the Church
is set free to view the past differently. The earliest disciples now could
understand the cross of Jesus not as the rejection of his messianic mission
but as the way of the Messiah. (Luke 24.26 is but one example. Isaiah 53
came to be understood as messianic only after the resurrection of Jesus.)
Indeed, the cross of Christ is God's true glory (John 12.27-36; 17.1-15).
Moreover, the disciples are called to the way of the cross, to suffer for
the sake of the gospel (Mark 8.34-35 and parallels, Heb. 13.12-13). The
disciples are also free to discern their own past differently, to confess
sin rather than to deceive themselves by denying sin, to trust God's justification
rather than their own self-contrived justifications.
- Because of the vision which shapes its future the Church recognizes
that its mission is both necessary and limited; that the Kingdom of God
is served beyond the Church; and that God may often have to work despite
and against the Church. Because the Church betrays its mission it requires
episcope to recall it, rebuke it and reform it.
Development of Structure
- All these requirements for the mission of the Church in time are given
in Christ, yet need to be realized in history. Each one - the praise of
the community, its faithfulness and continuity, its disciplined life together,
its activity of nurture and its sense of goal and direction - must be focused
in symbolic acts and structures. As the Church was launched outwards into
the cultures of the ancient world and encountered new problems and dangers
for which it had no ready-made solutions, these were the hallmarks of its
- As we have already remarked, there is no single pattern of leadership
common to the early Christian communities (see paragraphs 19-20 above).
Nevertheless, there was a serious and persisting need for wise and faithful
leadership in the mission of the Church. 'Ministerial office played an
essential part in the life of the Church in the first century ... Normative
principles governing the purpose and function of the ministry are already
present in the New Testament documents (e.g. Mark 10.43-45; Acts 20.28;
1 Tim. 4.12-16; 1 Pet. 5.1-4). The early churches may well have had considerable
diversity in the structure of pastoral ministry, though it is clear that
some churches were headed by ministers who were called episcopoi and presbyteroi.
While the first missionary churches were not a loose aggregation of autonomous
communities, we have no evidence that 'bishops' and 'presbyters' were appointed
everywhere in the primitive period. The terms 'bishop' and 'presbyter*
could be applied to the same man or to men with identical or very similar
functions' (Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC),
The Final Report, Ministry and Ordination 6).
- The deaths of St Paul, St Peter and St James (the Lord's brother),
who had exercised authoritative ministries in the churches, though in different
places and in differing ways, left a vacuum in the Church's life. The Book
of Acts reflects the steps which were taken to supply this lack, by the
appointment of presbyters (Acts 14.23). But the New Testament exhibits
a striking absence of interest in titles or official designations when
we compare the Christian writings with material concerning voluntary associations
in the ancient world. The gospels of St Matthew and of St John show awareness
of the danger inherent in the developing structures and offices. 1 Peter
warns against authoritarianism and money-making in the church leadership
of northern Asia Minor. Though there is great interest in the Pastoral
Epistles in the means for ensuring the succession of leadership by the
laying on of hands, there is no evidence to suggest that the bishop or
presbyter had an exclusive role in relation to baptism and the eucharist.
- There is a limited amount of testimony about the structures of Christian
community in the second century. All fourth-century and later testimony
about this period must be handled with care because ancient writings about
church history placed primary importance on proving there had been a consistent,
unchanging Christian tradition. (In this, ancient Christian authors accepted
the general cultural preference for what was old: the new was suspect on
principle.) By the fourth century, the 'monarchical episcopate' was so
standard and unquestioned that it came to be regarded as having apostolic
- Ignatius of Antioch (c. 117) provides us with the earliest mention
of the threefold ministry. But the episcopate he describes is what might
be called a congregational episcopate as opposed to the later regional
episcopate. Ignatius saw the bishops as standing in God's place, presiding
over the community. The presbyters were seen either as 'God's Council'
or the 'Council of Apostles' -thus evoking the scene of the last judgement.
The deacons represented either the commandment of God or Jesus Christ.
In any case, 'we are not certain how the Ignatian bishop was appointed
or that he stood in a chain of historic succession to the apostles by means
of ordination or even that the pattern described by Ignatius. was universal
in the church' (Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue IV, Eucharist and Ministry,
39. Reflections of the Roman Catholic participants).
- Churches increasingly found that political or quasi-political terminology
expressed their sense of their own identity. This language was already
to be found in the New Testament. Christians were a new people, or a new
race, whose politeuma or commonwealth was in heaven (Phil. 3.20), strangers
and sojourners in other people's cities in one sense, but looking forward
to the city which God had prepared for them (Heb. 11.16) and thus in another
sense at home in God's world. In their local communities, therefore, Christian
people came to see themselves less and less as a specialized organization
and more and more as a kind of tight-knit polls within a polis, whose interests
and activities embraced not some, but all, of the normal concerns of their
members. The Church spread throughout the Roman world was one body, a single
'people'; and it was of such a body that the bishop came to be recognized
as leader and principal officer in each locality.
- As time went on, the churches responded to the variety of gifts present
in their midst by the creation of numerous other roles - readers, catechists,
exorcists, acolytes, virgins and the like - all of whom were called clerici,
in distinction to the ordinary citizenry, or laid. These developments indicate
the openness of the churches to a variety of forms of ministry, not all
of which needed to be perpetuated. But all alike, 'clergy' and 'laity',
were first and foremost citizens of the commonwealth of heaven, all alike
members of God's household (Eph. 2.19). When that household met together
the bishop presided in a way which marked him out as the symbolic person
in whom the identity of the community was focused and represented.
- The significance of these developments is not that they can be extracted
from the seamless web of church history and given normative status. Their
importance lies rather in the basic intention to which they gave expression.
The churches, in becoming discrete cultures within cultures, constituted
a system of symbols. The office of bishop was valued because it expressed
something important to the Church's self-identity both within the community
and in its external relations. It was a development relevant to a particular
time and place, but with some surprising features - for example that bishops,
unlike local magistrates, were elected for life. All our evidence confirms
that, whatever the theological understanding of the office, it was open
to gross abuse, as the New Testament documents already had made clear of
earlier patterns of leadership.
- But it had two clear advantages: first, that because the whole people
was involved in the election (perhaps by shouting their votes - the potential
for riotous disorder was always present), the authority of the bishop lay,
in part, in the recognition accorded him by the community in its entirety;
and secondly, ordinations entailed the participation of bishops from neighbouring
congregations and thus elicited at least their consent. In the course of
time, the role which neighbouring bishops played in the process of selection
increased in importance, as stress was laid on the unity of the world-wide
Church. Thus the bishop embodied in his office the tension between locality
and universality. In virtue of his election he represented the Christian
people of his own town for the universal Church; and in virtue of the assent
of the larger Church, symbolized by the mode of his ordination, he represented
for his own flock the universal people of God, the whole body of local
churches knit together in the communion of Christ.
- The handling of this tension was no easy matter. Bishops installed
by outside authority sometimes had great difficulty in governing their
local churches; and bishops who were popular with their own flocks were
sometimes judged unsatisfactory by synods of their peers. In the course
of time more and more of the initiative for the election of bishops came
to rest in the hands of regional authorities until the development reached
the point that no bishop could be installed without the consent of the
- By the fourth century also a significant realignment of responsibilities
was occurring within the threefold ministry. The bishop, who had been in
principle the leader of a single congregation, had become a regional overseer,
while the presbyters, who had had no independent liturgical function, became
the presidents of local eucharistic assemblies. By the Middle Ages this
shift led to the presbyter's ministry being taken for the normative form
of ministry. The difference between bishop and presbyter was now a matter
of jurisdiction. Jerome's opinion that bishops and presbyters were originally
one and the same became widely accepted and played a role in both the Lutheran
and Anglican Reformations.
- Once again it must be said that this history is not invoked in order
to give it normative status. There is too much variety for us to construct
a single, synthetic picture of the episcopal office; and there is always
a danger in anachronistically reading back the vastly changed scale of
a modern bishop's activities into the ancient communities which were smaller.
The point is rather that the symbolic position occupied by the bishop had
two dimensions, the spatial and the temporal. The connections between the
local and the universal, the present and the past, are both aspects of
the one koinonia or communion. On the one hand, the bishop 'is responsible
for preserving and promoting the integrity of the koinonia in order to
further the Church's response to the Lordship of Christ and its commitment
to mission' (ARCIC, The Final Report, Authority I, 5); a koinonia which
'is realized not only in the local Christian communities, but also in the
communion of these communities with one another' (ibid., 8). On the other
hand the bishop as confessor of the faith links the church with its foundation
in the prophetic and apostolic scriptures (Eph. 2.20).
- What is essential to the life and mission of the Church is that the
connection between the universal and the local should be made, and that
it should be effective. The question which has to be addressed to our own
churches is not merely whether they intend such a link, but how it is allowed
to be effective. The mere presence of a bishop as what is said to be 'a
focus of unity' will not guarantee the preservation of koinonia between
local and universal; nor will the absence of such a bishop entail its destruction.
The case is the same in relation to continuity.'Apostolic succession in
the episcopal office does not consist primarily in an unbroken chain of
those ordaining to those ordained, but in a succession in the presiding
ministry of a church which stands in the continuity of apostolic faith
and which is overseen by the bishop in order to keep it in the communion
of the Catholic and Apostolic Church' (LRCJC, The Ministry in the Church,
- Our brief reference to episodes in the history of the episcopal office
highlights a telling fact. It is the oversight or presiding ministry which
constitutes the heart of the episcopal office, and that oversight is never
to be viewed apart from the continuity of apostolic faith. The fact of
bishops does not by itself guarantee the continuity of apostolic faith.
A material rupture in the succession of presiding ministers does not by
itself guarantee a loss of continuity in apostolic faith. What evaluation
is, then, to be given of a situation in which there is a material rupture
in the succession of presiding ministers in the name of preserving the
continuity of apostolic faith?
- Clearly, no simple answer can be given. Where the rupture occurs, subsequent
steps taken to secure the continuity of apostolic faith and to provide
for a new succession in presiding ministry must weigh heavily in making
that evaluation. In the English Reformation, it may be argued, the episcopal
succession was secured in an uncanonical fashion in that no currently sitting
diocesan bishops could be found who were willing to consecrate Matthew
Parker. Whatever may be said about this and about the sufficiency of the
1550 Ordinal for the transmission of the historic threefold ministry, the
Preface to the Ordinal witnessed to the intention of the English Reformers
to continue that ministry in a reformed manner. Thus the importance of
the Ordinal does not lie in the historical accuracy of its claim that the
offices of bishop, presbyter and deacon were present in the Church from
the beginning. Its importance lies rather in its expression of the intention
to preserve continuity with traditional church structures
- For the Lutheran Reformation too the situation was complicated by the
refusal of sitting bishops to ordain pastors for evangelical congregations.
Faced with this emergency, 'the Wittenberg Reformation sought a new understanding
of ordained ministry by reaching back to the ordering of the Ancient Church.
In so doing, the ministry of oversight in the (Wittenberg) Stadtkirche
was described as an episcopal office and services of ordination were broadly
structured to be a reappropriation of episcopal consecration in the Ancient
Church' (Kirchengemeinschaft in Wort und Sakrament, Hannover 1984, p. 75).
The Reformers 'ordained through ordained pastors and thus laid claim to
the episcopal structure of the office of pastors (ministers).' (H. Fries
and K. Rahner, Unity of the Churches, Philadelphia 1985, p. 94).
- It must be clearly noted that the Reformers believed themselves authorized
to act in this manner in an emergency situation, appealing to Jerome's
position on the original unity of the office of bishop and presbyter. The
authority of a bishop's office is thus present in the pastors. The succession
of a presiding ministry is thus preserved, though in an unaccustomed form.
There was no objection to the office of bishop as such, as the Augsburg
Confession testifies: St Peter forbids the bishops to exercise lordship
as if they had power to coerce the churches according to their will. It
is not our intention to find ways of reducing the bishops' power, but we
desire and pray that they may not coerce our consciences to sin. If they
are unwilling to do this and ignore our petition, let them consider how
they will answer for it in God's sight, inasmuch as by their obstinacy
they offer occasion for division and schism, which they should in truth
help to prevent (CA, XVIII, 76-78).
- A similar problem faces both Anglicans and Lutherans, namely that the
succession in the presiding ministry of their respective churches no longer
incontestably links those churches to the koinonia of the wider Church.
- The comprehensive doctrinal agreement between Lutherans and Anglicans
outlined in Section III indicates a commonly held apostolic faith. In the
light of this commonly held apostolic faith, neither tradition can, in
good conscience, reject the apostolic nature of the other. In the light
of the argument contained in the above sections, the ordained ministry
is no longer an issue which need divide our two Churches. In the light
of the symbolic position of the bishop as reflecting both the universal
and local koinonia, the continued isolation, one from another, of those
who exercise this office of episcope in our two Churches is no longer tolerable
and must be overcome.
III The Truths We Share
- The Anglican - Lutheran European Regional Commission Helsinki Report,
of 1982, observed that 'the history of Anglican - Lutheran relations is
a complex one and cannot be reduced to one simple pattern' (paragraph 13).
It is not necessary for us to trace all of the reasons for this observation.
One fact, however, stands out. These two traditions have not officially
engaged in any divisive theological or doctrinal controversies. They have
not officially condemned each other as Churches. Conversations in recent
years in Europe, North America, and Australia have resulted in identifying
large areas of agreement in faith and life. Shared work and witness in
Africa and Asia have revealed similar areas of agreement. In the USA, most
Lutherans and the Episcopal Church have entered into formal agreement of
'interim Eucharistic Sharing' with each other. We wish here to specify
the truths we share as disclosed by our official conversations.
- We accept the authority of the canonical Scriptures of the Old and
New Testaments. We read the Scriptures liturgically in the course of the
Church's year (Lutheran - Episcopal Dialogue II (LED II), 1980, pp. 30-1;
Pullach Report, 17-22).
- We accept the Niceno - Constantinopolitan and Apostles' Creeds and
confess the basic Trinitarian and Christological Dogmas to which these
creeds testify. That is, we believe that Jesus of Nazareth is true God
and true Man, and that God is authentically identified as Father, Son and
Holy Spirit (LED II, p. 38; Pullach Report, 23-25).
- Anglicans and Lutherans use very similar orders of service for the
Eucharist, for the Prayer Offices, for the administration of Baptism, for
the rites of Marriage, Burial, and Confession and Absolution. We acknowledge
in the liturgy both a celebration of salvation through Christ and a significant
factor in forming the consensus fidelium. We have many hymns, canticles,
and collects in common (Helsinki Report, 29-31).
- We believe that baptism with water in the name of the Triune God unites
the one baptized with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, initiates
into the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and confers the gracious
gift of new life (Helsinki Report, 22-25).
- We believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present, distributed
and received under the forms of bread and wine in the Lord's Supper. We
also believe that the grace of divine forgiveness offered in the sacrament
is received with the thankful offering of ourselves for God's service (LED
II, pp. 25-29; Helsinki Report, 26-28).
- We believe and proclaim the gospel, that in Jesus Christ God loves
and redeems the world. We 'share a common understanding of God's justifying
grace, i.e. that we are accounted righteous and are made righteous before
God only by grace through faith because of the merits of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ, and not on account of our works or merit. Both our traditions
affirm that justification leads and must lead to "good works";
authentic faith issues in love' (Helsinki Report, 20; cf. LED II, pp. 22-23).
- Anglicans and Lutherans believe that the Church is not the creation
of individual believers, but that it is constituted and sustained by the
Triune God through God's saving action in word and sacraments. We believe
that the Church is sent into the world as sign, instrument and foretaste
of the kingdom of God. But we also recognize that the Church stands in
constant need of reform and renewal (Helsinki Report, 44-51).
- We believe that all members of the Church are called to participate
in its apostolic mission. They are therefore given various ministries by
the Holy Spirit. Within the community of the Church the ordained ministry
exists to serve the ministry of the whole people of God. We hold the ordained
ministry of word and sacrament to be a gift of God to his Church and therefore
an office of divine institution (Helsinki Report, 32-42).
- We believe that a ministry of pastoral oversight (episcope), exercised
in personal, collegial and communal ways, is necessary to witness to and
safeguard the unity and apostolicity of the Church (Pullach Report, 79).
- We share a common hope in the final consummation of the kingdom of
God and believe that we are compelled to work for the establishment of
justice and peace. The obligations of the Kingdom are to govern our life
in the Church and our concern for the world. 'The Christian faith is that
God has made peace through Jesus ' 'by the blood of his Cross" (Col.
1.20) so establishing the one valid centre for the unity of the whole human
family' (Anglican - Reformed International Commission 1984: God's Reign
and Our Unity, 18 and 43; cf. Pullach Report, 59).
- Because of all that we share, we concur with the conclusion of the
Anglican - Lutheran European Regional Commission: 'There are no longer
any serious obstacles on the way towards the establishment of full communion
between our two Churches'. We 'acknowledge each other as true Churches
of Christ preaching the same gospel, possessing a common apostolic ministry,
and celebrating authentic sacraments' (Helsinki Report, 62-63).
- Furthermore, in addition to the common sharing of fundamental beliefs
and practices which we have listed, we wish to make the affirmations which
- We recognize that in each other's churches there exists a sustained
and serious commitment to the apostolic mission of the Church.
- We see ourselves already united by baptism in thankfulness to God for
the gift of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, and for the sending of
the Holy Spirit.
- We acknowledge in each other's ministries of episcope the fruits of
the presence of Jesus Christ and the activity of the Holy Spirit, in the
offering of sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, in the reflection of
the faithful love of God towards the world, in care for the nurture and
growth of all the faithful, and in commitment to the establishment of the
kingdom of God in justice and peace for the whole earth.
- We confess to God, to each other and to all Christian people how far,
in our discharge of the ministry of episcope, our Churches have fallen
short of the unity and continuity of the apostolic commission. We ask of
each other forgiveness for our disregard of each other's gifts, for our
lack of humility, and for our past toleration of our division.
- We earnestly desire to remove those barriers which prevent the life
of our churches from reflecting that unity of heart and mind which is God's
gift to the people of God.
- We commit ourselves to the obligation to take counsel together in reaching
a common mind on how the mission of the people of God can most fruitfully
be served in every place, so that there may be a united witness to the
gospel, in word and deed, and a common enjoyment of the means of grace.
- We intend thereby also to promote the unity of all churches with whom
we are seeking, or have already discovered, the faith of the catholic Church.
- We rejoice in rediscovering in each other our common inheritance of
faith and of life, and in our unity in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has bestowed
on us in Christ every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms.
IV Application to Anglicans and Lutherans
- At our Consultation we addressed the question: 'In the light of our
common mission, what needs to be reformed in our respective expressions
of episcope?' We also tried to visualize what patterns of leadership and
oversight would be needed to meet the challenges of the next century. We
were aware that all human institutions are subject to constant obsolescence
and change. We cannot, therefore, commend uncritically either the re-appropriation
of historic episcopate or the perpetuation of existing forms of the exercise
- Neither of our Churches is able to claim such a degree of-faithfulness,
that is, a continuity in either doctrine or order, as would enable it to
sit in judgement on the other.
- Nevertheless both our Churches have been given by God sufficient faithfulness
to the apostolic gospel that today we can recognize each other as sister
- The Churches of the Lutheran tradition have received as the focus for
God's faithfulness to them the creeds of the early Church, the confessions
of the sixteenth century, and the continuity of the ordained ministry through
which the Word of God has been preached and the sacraments and rites of
the Church have been administered.
- The Churches of the Anglican Communion have received as the focus for
God's faithfulness to them the creeds of the early Church, the Book of
Common Prayer from the sixteenth century (revised periodically and adapted
regionally), and the continuity of the episcopal office through which clergy
have been ordained for the preaching of the Word of God and the administration
of the sacraments and rites of the Church.
- Formal recognition of each other's ministries so that our Churches
acknowledge a relationship of full communion between them cannot simply
mean that neither Church changes. Nor can it mean that either Church changes
merely to meet the expectations and requirements of the other.
- Rather Churches of both communions are being called to acknowledge
that the experience and practice of full communion will involve them both
and simultaneously in changes and reforms.
- Lutheran Churches are being asked to make four changes in current practice,
- All persons who exercise an ordained ministry of episcope should receive
the title of bishop or suffragan bishop. (See Paragraph 57 and Appendix
IV for historical and other information on the titles currently in use
in some Lutheran churches.)
- Because Lutherans understand the office of bishop as pastoral (CA,
XXVIII, 5 et passim; cf. Lutheran Understanding of the Episcopal Office,
1983, which states that 'episcopal ministry and episcopal office denote
the task of pastoral leadership and spiritual supervision', pp. 3 ff.),
constitutions should be revised so that bishops are elected to the same
tenure of office as are congregational pastors, chaplains, and other pastoral
ministers in the Church. That is, they should be elected and called until
such time as death, retirement, or resignation terminate their incumbency.
This may mean that Churches will also want to revise the procedures for
identifying and nominating candidates for election to the ministry of bishop
so that God's gifts of leadership and governance (1 Cor. 12.28) are properly
recognized and called to office. Where appropriate, bishops and Churches
should also establish and welcome structures for collegial and periodic
review with the purpose of evaluating and improving the bishop's ministry.
- In accordance with the canons of the Council of Nicaea the rites of
installation for bishops should be revised so that there is a laying on
of hands by at least three bishops. The involvement of three bishops in
the installation of a bishop is the liturgical form by which the Church
recognizes that the bishop serves the local or regional church through
ties of collegiality which are links to the universal Church. Such participation
of three bishops should express liturgically the fact that genuine consultation
among bishops on the faith and life of the Church is expected in structure
and practice. If we are in full communion with each other, one or more
of the bishops at a Lutheran installation should be from a Church in the
Anglican Communion. Lutherans can invite such participation by Anglican
bishops for two reasons. First, in recognizing and acknowledging 'the full
authenticity of the existing ministries of Lutheran churches' (see paragraph
94) Anglicans join Lutherans in affirming that bishops have authority only
through the gospel (CA XXVIII, 5-8) and thus serve the identity and unity
of the Church given by the pure preaching of the gospel and the administration
of the sacraments (CA VII, 2). Second, Lutherans have confessionally and
historically recognized that the historic episcopate is a valuable symbol
of unity and continuity in the Church (cf. LRCJC, The Ministry in the Church,
65, 66, and 80, together with the documentation in the footnotes). Such
participation of Anglican bishops must be a symbol for mandatory mutual
consultation and real interaction in episcope.
- It should become the unfailing practice that only bishops or suffragan
bishops should preside at all ordinations of clergy in their respective
regions (synods, dioceses, churches, districts). This is consistent with
much current practice in Lutheran Churches; and it is upheld in principle
by the fact that Lutheran bishops or those who exercise episcope in Lutheran
Churches must now authorize all ordinations at which they do not themselves
- Anglican Churches are being asked to make three changes in current
practice, as follows:
- Anglican Churches should make the necessary canonical revisions so
that they can acknowledge and recognize the full authenticity of the existing
ministries of Lutheran Churches. We believe that the basis for such action
lies in the recognition that 'the apostolic succession in the episcopal
office does not consist primarily in an unbroken chain of those ordaining
to those ordained, but in a succession in the presiding ministry of a church,
which stands in the continuity of apostolic faith' (The Ministry in the
Church, 62). Anglican Churches are here being asked for a major canonical
revision in ordering their relationships to those Lutheran Churches which
have bishops who are not in the historic episcopate and to those whose
chief ministers exercising episcope are not called bishops. We believe
that Anglicans are free to do this both by the grace and power of the Holy
Spirit and because such action does not mean surrender of the gift of the
historic episcopate. 'Full communion', the consequence of such acknowledgement
and recognition, does not mean the organizational merger of Anglican and
Lutheran Churches. Therefore Anglican Churches would continue to consecrate
their own bishops and ordain their own clergy according to the ordinals
now in use.
- Anglican Churches and bishops should establish and welcome structures
for collegial and periodic review with the purpose of evaluating and improving
the bishop's ministry (see paragraph 90).
- Anglican Churches should regularly invite Lutheran bishops to participate
in the laying on of hands at the consecration and installation of Anglican
bishops. Such participation must be a symbol for mandatory mutual consultation
and real interaction in episcope (see paragraph 91).
- We rejoice in the ways God's faithfulness has been manifested in our
respective Churches. We receive and cultivate the faithfulness of God evident
in the historic episcopate. We recognize and praise God for his faithfulness
in preserving the apostolic mission and continuity of the Church where
the historic succession in the episcopate has been broken. We intend with
these changes to enter into full communion, to create a single eucharistic
community, to engage in fully shared mission, and thus to prepare for what
structural implications may emerge. We trust that what we do will have
significance for progress in other ecumenical relationships.
- In all of this we wish to assure ourselves and our partners in ecumenical
dialogue that these changes are not intended to imply and do not imply
indifference to the gift and symbol of historic episcopate. We also assure
our partners in bilateral and multilateral dialogue that we want to be
mindful of our conversations with them and our commitments to them. No
bilateral consensus or action can be blessed which ignores the Church in
its many traditions and manifestations. What we do is always done in the
sight of all (in conspectu omnium) and - in so far as we are granted insight
- on behalf of all.
- In addition to the above changes proposed for each of our Churches,
we wish to pose questions which imply reform and renewal in the area of
episcope to both of our Churches.
- Are those exercising pastoral leadership and oversight in our Churches
given the time and space to reflect on the priorities for mission in their
regions, or have they become absorbed in and overloaded by administration?
Is the administrative unit over which they preside frankly too big, so
that their time and energy is all spent on the maintenance of a system
rather than on the discernment of opportunity? Does the scale of their
responsibilities make them inattentive to the experience of those whose
daily witness involves their standing on the edge of Church life? Has over-familiarity
with committee work, which indeed has its proper role, bred a lack of vision
and of courage?
- Are those in the episcopal office accessible enough to clergy and their
families, not only in times of crisis but in an ongoing pastoral relationship?
Do they take care not to foster an immature dependency, but rather encourage
clergy to take responsibility for appraising their own ministry periodically,
for reviewing their ministerial priorities, and for pursuing their own
continuing education and spiritual refreshment? Do they also ensure that
adequate resources are provided for offering personal help to clergy and
their families in times of sickness, bereavement, domestic stress and financial
- Can those who exercise pastoral leadership and oversight escape the
danger of being occupied too much with the affairs of the clergy, and also
offer effective leadership in releasing and drawing together the talents
of many individuals within the whole people of God? Can they set an example
of leadership which is not autocratic but truly shared, facilitating collaborative
styles of ministry and enabling the skills and insights of lay persons
in every walk of life to be contributed to the Church's common life?
- Has the Anglican or Lutheran view of what it means to be in apostolic
succession whether of pedigree or pure confession become such a matter
of pride that the mission of the Church has ceased to be a criterion by
which the Church is judged? Do those exercising episcope, whether Anglicans
or Lutherans, consider they 'possess' the apostolic entitlement, or do
they see themselves challenged and outstripped by its demands and responsibilities?
- Is it really the case that those exercising episcope consult with each
other? Have they substituted the goal of denominational coherence for the
wider vision of the unity of all Christians? Have they become so absorbed
in consultative or legislative problems and procedures within their own
nation or province that they have ceased to care how their actions might
influence other Christians in other parts of the world?
- Has mutuality ceased between those exercising episcope in the Church
and their own local communities? Have leaders ceased to understand the
changing needs of congregations? Have they become so remote from the poor
and those on the margins of society that they can no longer represent the
ministry of one who was the friend of, and host to, sinners? Or conversely,
do local congregations keep those who exercise episcope at bay, as though
their ministry were thought to be an intrusion upon, or competitive with,
the self-sufficient organization of a parish?
- Do those exercising episcope in the Church expound and commend the
Christian faith in a sustained way, not just preaching on special occasions
or during isolated visits to congregations? Do they take real care to enlist
the advice and help of those skilled in communications in the modern world,
and to address those issues which are of urgent concern to people? Do they
make the most of their corporate teaching role as a conference of bishops,
and provide collegial support to one another in the exercise of their teaching
- Do those who exercise episcope understand their liturgical role to
be central to their responsibilities, and do they carry it out in a creative
way? Do they lead the offering of prayer and praise with a sense of awe
and reverence, inspiring clergy and congregations to offer well prepared
and heart-felt worship to God? Do they maintain a proper balance between
word and sacrament in their programme of public worship events? Do they
encourage the renewal of liturgy, and hold together diverse styles of worship
within the Church's life? Do they take care to retain those skills which
they now exercise less often than they did at an earlier phase of their
ministries? Do they perform their liturgical tasks in a manner which symbolizes
that all ministry is shared with others?
- Do those exercising episcope show in their own personal lives Christ-like
qualities? Do they give an example of holiness, love, humility and simplicity
of life? Are they generous and hospitable? Is their style of life influenced
too much by the patterns of leadership that are dominant in the culture
where they live? Is it evident that they are dedicated to unselfish service,
and are open to be touched by the sufferings of others? Do they give the
time and space needed for prayer, study, rest, recreation and family life,
and avoid being devoured by unreasonable public expectations of their office?
- Are those chosen for leadership given the ceremonial trappings of prominence,
but denied the ability to exercise their responsibilities? Is effective
leadership vested in reality in persons who, by reason of their obscurity
in a bureaucracy, are not accountable to the whole Church? Are the realities
of the exercise of power effectively disguised from view, and is it silently
presumed that power can only be exercised competitively and never co-operatively?
Are Churches so frightened by the danger of authoritarianism that their
systems of checks and balances destroy any capacity to respond in moments
of special challenge and danger?
- These are but some of the enquiries which follow from the argument
we have advanced. They are based in the account we have given of the requirements
for the mission of the Church, on the understanding that the apostolic
ministry must be a ministry engaged in, and facilitating the mission of
the whole Church. Episcope is a ministry of service, exercised with the
co-operation of the whole community. Leaders are to 'manifest and exercise
the authority of Christ in the way Christ himself revealed God's authority
to the world, by committing their life to the community' (BEM, M 16). When
we ask whether leaders in communities other than our own do this with faithfulness,
we are engaged in a process which inevitably involves self-examination.
Our conclusion is that both our communions are called in the first place
V Practical Steps
- Here we consider by what practical steps Anglicans and Lutherans can
realize Full Communion.
- Step 1: Each Regional or National Church's governing body:
- affirms the agreement in faith as expressed in certain specified documents
(eg. paragraphs 61-70 of this Report).
- recognizes the Church of.......... as a true Church of the Gospel etc
(see BEM, M 53, [a] or [b]).
- Step 2: Create provisional structures to express the degree of unity
so far achieved and to promote further growth. These could include the
following examples, though the time scale could vary region by region:
- Eucharistic Sharing and Joint Common Celebration of the Eucharist;
- meetings of Church leaders for regular prayer, reflection and consultation,
thus beginning joint episcope;
- mutual invitation of Church leaders, clergy and laity, to synods, with
a right to speak;
- common agencies wherever possible;
- explore the possibility of adjusting boundaries to assist local and
- Covenants among Church leaders to collaborate in episcope;
- joint pastoral appointments for special projects;
- joint theological education and training courses;
- sharing of information and documents;
- joint mission programmes;
- agreed syllabuses for Christian education in schools, joint materials
for catechesis and adult study;
- co-operation over liturgical forms, cycles of intercession, lectionaries
and homiletic materials;
- welcoming isolated clergy or diaspora congregations into the life of
a larger group (see ALERC Helsinki Report, 5);
- interchange of ministers to the extent permitted by canon law;
- twinning (partnership) between congregations and communities;
- joint programmes of diaconal ministry and reflection on issues of social
- joint retreats and devotional materials.
The ACC and LWF should be asked to give their full support to Churches
making such provisional arrangements.
- Step 3: The actions taken in Steps 1 and 2 form the basis and motivation
for the implementation of the recommendations in paragraphs 88-96.
- Step 4: Together representatives (including lay members, ordained ministers
and Church leaders) of both Churches publicly celebrate the establishment
of full communion. This liturgical occasion should include the following
- penitence for past shortcomings;
- declaration of joint faith;
- reaffirmation of baptismal vows;
- mutual greeting by sharing the Peace by the right hand of fellowship,
so as to avoid any suggestion of reordination, mutual recommissioning of
ministries, crypto-validation, or any other ambiguity;
- a celebration of the Eucharist;
- covenant to work together and become closely involved in one another's
corporate life, with the long-term aim of fuller unity;
- a personal covenant of the Church leaders to collaborate in episcope.
(It is intended that new leaders should enter the same covenant on assuming
- Notes: We understand these steps to be compatible with those proposed
by LRCJC, Facing Unity, pp. 58 ff.
This process should be constantly open to further ecumenical initiatives
with other Churches, and is not intended to be exclusive (see above paragraph
After Step 4 joint consecration and installation of bishops and ordination
of new ministers should be possible.
Anglican - Lutheran Consultation on Episcope
The Revd Canon Keith Chittleborough
The Revd Dr L. William Countryman
The Revd Dr Alyson Barnett Cowan
The Revd Dr Kortright Davis
Dr David Ford
The Ven. Nehemiah Shihala Hamupembe
The Rt Revd Russell Hatton
Ms Nangula Hauwanga
The Revd Dr Richard A. Norris Jr.
Professor Patricia Page
The Revd Sven Eric Brodd
Dr Faith Burgess
The Rt Revd Herbert W. Chilstrom
The Revd Dr Donald Juel
The Revd Nathan E Kapofi
The Revd Dr Robert Marshall
The Revd Julius Paul
Ms Annette Smith
Dr Nelvin Vos
The Revd Professor Basil Zion
Roman Catholic Consultant
The Revd William Marravee
The members of the Continuation Committee (Appendix II) were also present.
Anglican - Lutheran International Continuation Committee
The Rt Revd David Tustin (Co-Chair)
The Revd Professor J. M.Flynn
The Rt Revd Charles Mwaigoga
The Rt Revd John G. Savarimuthu
The Revd Professor Stephen W. Sykes
The Rt Revd Sebastian Kolowa (Co-Chair)
The Revd Dr Walter Bouman
The Rt Revd Tore Furberg
The Revd Christa Grengel
The Revd Dr B. C. Paul
The Revd Dr Karheinz Schmale*
The Revd. Dr William A. Norgren*
The Revd Dr Jan Womer
The Revd George Braund
Ms Vanessa Wilde
The Revd Dr Eugene L. Brand
Mrs Irmhild Reichen-Young
*Not present at the Niagara Meeting.
Professor Marianne H. Micks retired from the Continuation Committee
for health reasons immediately before the Niagara Meeting.
Anglican - Lutheran International Continuation Committee The Marie Reparatrice
Centre, Wimbledon, England 13th - 17th October 1986
- The Anglican - Lutheran International Continuation Committee (ALICC)
was appointed by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) and the Lutheran
World Federation (LWF) on the recommendation (lib.) of the Anglican - Lutheran
Joint Working Group, which met at Cold Ash, England, 28th November - 3rd
December 1983. The meeting produced a report entitled 'Anglican - Lutheran
Relations, Report of the Anglican - Lutheran Joint Working Group' (The
Cold Ash Report), which provides essential background to the whole progress
of Anglican - Lutheran relations in recent times. In it the Group stated
that 'the last 15 years have seen remarkable convergence between the Anglican
and Lutheran Communions and their member churches' and recommended their
respective bodies to 'move with urgency towards the fullest possible ecclesial
recognition and the goal of full communion' (p. 16). The Group had before
Anglican - Lutheran International Conversations, 1970-2. The Pullach
Lutheran - Episcopal Dialogue I, 1972, and Lutheran - Episcopal Dialogue
II, 1981 (LED II).
Anglican - Lutheran Dialogue, 1983. The Helsinki Report of the Anglican
- Lutheran European Regional Commission.
The Agreement adopted by the Conventions of The American Lutheran Church,
the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, the Episcopal Church
in the USA and the Lutheran Church in America, September 1982.
- The Task of the Continuation Committee is first to coordinate information
about developments in Anglican -Lutheran relations in various parts of
the world, and then, on the basis of an assessment of the total picture,
to foster and to stimulate new initiatives. It reports to its parent bodies.
- Recent Developments
ALICC received the following reports:
The Final Report of the Australian Anglican – Lutheran
A Report by the Board for Mission and Unity of the Church of England
on Anglican - Lutheran and other international dialogues (GS 685), June
The Report and Recommendations of the Canadian
Anglican - Lutheran Dialogue, April 1986.
A Report from the 8th Theological Conversations between the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD) and the
Church of England, April 1986.
It also received William A. Norgren's Study Guide to Lutheran - Episcopal
Relations, What Can We Share? (1985); reports on the questionnaires regarding
Anglican - Lutheran Relations throughout the world, prepared by the ACC
and the LWF; and the report of the Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to
and address at the Lutheran Church in America Convention, Milwaukee, in
August 1986; Changing Anglican -Lutheran Relations, William A. Norgren
1985; Towards Full Communion, William G. Rusch. 1985; Facing Unity. Models,
Forms and Phases of Catholic - Lutheran Church Fellowship. Roman Catholic
- Lutheran Joint Commission. Published by the Lutheran World Federation,
- These documents by no means constitute a comprehensive coverage of
all developments, and the Committee acknowledges the difficulty in assembling
all the relevant information, as the different member churches respond
to international or national bilateral reports and other documents. It
is also the case that from some smaller Lutheran and Anglican churches
we have little or no information about ecumenical developments.
- Oral reports were delivered by the members present at the ALICC of
developments in a number of major theatres of Anglican - Lutheran interaction,
including Tanzania, Malaysia, India (relations between Lutherans and the
Church of South India), North America and Europe.
It is clear from all the information before us that further highly significant
steps are being taken on a regional basis to promote ever-increasing closeness
of relationship, despite the lack of an international dialogue. We wish
to draw attention to certain examples of this co-operation:
- Tanzania: The Tanzanian Christian Council enables heads of all non-Roman
Catholic churches to meet for two or three days every year to discuss things
of mutual concern. Out of these annual contacts church leaders in Tanzania
are very often great friends. On the basis of this friendship some Anglican
bishops have received invitations to the consecration of Lutheran bishops
and the same has been true of some Anglican consecrations.
- USA: In its third series, the Lutheran - Episcopal Dialogue in the
USA (LED III) has nearly completed work on a document mandated by the churches:
'The Gospel and its Implications'. This is an attempt to make use of the
eschatological perspective proving fruitful in current biblical and theological
studies as the churches seek to be more faithful in engaging in mission
in terms of ecumenism, evangelization and ethics. The dialogue has agreed
to recommend to the respective churches some form of recognizing each other's
central documents, that Lutherans recognize the Book of Common Prayer and
Episcopalians recognize the Augsburg Confession and Luther's Small Catechism.
There are increasing instances of regular consultation between Episcopal
and Lutheran bishops, of shared ministry by and in parishes, of regular
study conferences of clergy from both churches and large gatherings for
dialogue and worship. Virtually every part of the USA has had some formal
joint celebrations of the Eucharist by Lutheran and Episcopal bishops.
- Canada: After a process beginning in October 1983, the Canadian Anglican
- Lutheran Dialogue has submitted a report to the churches containing brief
agreed statements on Justification, the Eucharist, Apostolicity, and Ordained
Ministry. The report proposes that the churches acknowledge each other
'as churches where the Gospel is truly preached and taught'. The report
requests the churches to initiate internally a period of study (1986-1989)
of the agreed statements and to declare a relationship of interim sharing
of eucharist beginning in 1989 with an evaluation of this experience to
be made in 1995. A number of other actions are also encouraged.
- Europe: Study and preparatory work has been commissioned by the Church
of England, the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland and the Bund der Evangelischen
Kirchen in der DDR for closer ecumenical relationships between these churches.
A consultation of these churches is to be held in February 1987. Pastoral
and theological consultations and exchanges have been taking place every
two years between the Church of England and the Scandinavian churches,
drawing upon a long history of official Church of England relationships
with the Churches of Sweden and Finland.
- Australia: Though the Australian Lutheran Churches are not part of
the LWF, we noted that a fruitful dialogue with Anglicans has been conducted
since 1974, involving strands of Lutheranism not normally engaged in common
ecumenical endeavour and covering a wide range of topics.
- India: The Anglican dioceses became part of the Church of South India
and the Church of North India. In 1947 the Lutheran churches in South India
(about a million Christians) entered into union negotiations with the Church
of South India, and they found a remarkable agreement in essential theological
issues, but for reasons, largely non-theological, could not form one body.
Nevertheless there are close relations between them in various aspects
of life, especially in joint theological seminaries. Now the Lutheran churches
in South India have become part of the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches
- It is apparent that the process of convergence described in The Cold
Ash Report is continuing. The theological agreements reached in international
and regional dialogues have facilitated shared life, and, as so often happens,
Christian living and theological reflection have mutually supported and
enriched each other.
The Present Situation
- In some contexts, it appears that shared life is a consequence of theological
agreement and the process of reception. After the agreement reached in
international and regional dialogues it becomes possible for developments
to occur in particular places, where responsible Christian judgement demands
a new initiative. For instance, an Anglican bishop finds himself asking
a Lutheran bishop to exercise oversight of churches in an emergency.
- These developments are of different kinds, reminding us of the multi-faceted
nature of the process of reconciliation. In some contexts, for good historical
reasons, great emphasis has to be placed on theological discussion and
the building of consensus; in other places what is crucial is making a
reality of the sharing of oversight and mutual consultation; in other places,
again, what is vital is breaking down cultural or communal barriers in
the life of the whole church. It is our experience that the establishment
of priorities in each situation has to be determined by the imperatives
of the Church's mission. Mission and ecumenism are inseparable, and have
to be worked out region to region. Not all developments are capable of
being applied universally. Some rest on understandings and judgements which
are, as yet, incapable of verbal formulation, but which have resulted from
responsible judgements in the face of particular needs or opportunities.
- It is also true that there are places where the two churches live side
by side and there are no signs of joint theological activity.
- We have begun, and must continue, to identify the resources which we
are discovering in one another. We have already received much from each
other in our traditions of worship and liturgy, music and hymnody, historical
and theological study, stewardship and spirituality. We continue to receive
gifts through the lessons learned by sister churches in times of hardship
and persecution, through the various ways our churches have sought to relate
to social and political contexts with equally various degrees of faithfulness.
It is a part of the task of this committee to discover and identify as
many resources as God has given us, to evaluate their role in our common
life and growing relationships, and to urge and facilitate the wider sharing
of these resources between our communions. That these resources cannot
always or easily be translated from one context to another must be remembered.
The historical ambiguities present in our strengths and gifts dare not
be ignored. But gifts remain gifts, even in brokenness and ambiguity, and
they can be means used by God to further the great gifts of reconciliation
- Rethinking our goals. Since the Cold Ash meeting, questions have surfaced
about the way 'full communion' is described and defined in the Cold Ash
Report and its relationship with the anticipated goal of other actual or
potential forms or models of church unity. Because of these and other questions
we recognize that one of our tasks must be the rethinking and reformulating
of the meaning of 'full communion'. We are persuaded that such reformulation
can take place only in the context of our growing common experience with
- Consultation on Episcope. Another of our tasks must be to discuss the
relationship between Apostolic Succession, the Ministry of the whole people
of God, Episcopacy and the historic episcopate. We propose to do this in
a consultation which would see ministry in relation to the mission of the
Church today. This Consultation will be held in 1987 and our proposal for
it is as follows:
Theme: Episcope in Relation to the Mission
of the Church Today.
Questions to be addressed in the context of Anglican - Lutheran relations:
- How was episcope exercised in the New Testament and the Early Church?
How did it relate to Mission?
This question demands that attention be paid to the sociological as
well as theological factors underlying historical developments as the Church
moved toward more structured community life for the sake of mission, at
varying rates of speed in different areas. It presupposes that there was
no uniformity of development, all developments have equal or enduring validity.
- What is the mission of the Church in the 21st Century? What is the
Church’s prophetic Role?
Both parts of this question demand answers set in a variety of cultural
and geographical contexts. It cannot be fruitfully addressed in only abstract
terms of global import.
- How is episcope related to the ministry of the whole people of God?
Implicit in this question is the fact that the whole people of God exercises
episcope in a variety of 'styles' appropriate (or inappropriate!) to our
different cultural contexts. It may be that some styles of leadership are
more suitable in Christian communities than others. The Consultation should
keep the relation between leadership and service in mind.
- In light of our common mission, what needs to be reformed
in our respective expressions of episcope?
Discussion of this key question is central to the task of the Consultation.
Clearly it needs to take into account insights gleaned from the previous
questions and answers. It asks, in effect, how can we do our job better?
- What can we do together in episcope? How can we initiate and enable
the joint exercise of episcope as a gradual process?
- What light is thrown on this by our churches' responses to the Ministry
section of the BEM document especially paragraphs 23-25?
- What light is thrown on this by our respective bilateral dialogues
with the Roman Catholic Church?
Again, this question presupposes a number of different answers for our
different contexts. It follows that no single process can emerge, following
a single time-table. Recognizing this, the question invites creative 'dreaming'.
- How do we formulate attainable goals for our common mission?
The emphasis in this question is on attainable goals. What criteria are
appropriate for judging whether a goal is attainable? That ours is a common
mission is a presupposition, presumably needing no further elucidation.
- Further Steps. There are further concrete steps which we can take and/or
propose to the churches on the way toward realization of the goal of full
communion between our churches. We have identified the following tasks:
- We should identify areas in which our churches need to be better informed
about each other, where misleading or outdated perceptions inhibit trust
and co-operation, understanding and commitment to unity. This is especially
the case where geographical separation prevents continued living experience
of one another, where common challenges and resources are not evident to
one another, where stereotypes and caricatures prejudice our relationships
and weaken our movement towards full communion.
- We need to develop forms and forums for common attention to the Scriptures,
that is, letting ourselves be corporately challenged by what the Scriptures
have to say to us today. Increased joint work on lectionaries, homiletical
studies, catechetical and adult study materials could be undertaken.
- In so far as possible, members, clergy and leaders of our churches
need encouragement to share in common worship, beginning with the Eucharist
hospitality which is now quite generally possible between Anglicans and
Lutherans. We also need to cultivate mutual prayer and intercession for
one another in concrete and specific ways. We need joint attention to the
cultivation of discipleship grounded in our common and mutually recognized
- One important and newly recognized way to understand the Lutheran reformation
confession of 'justification by faith' is that it is not so much a new
or additional doctrine, but rather it is an instruction to pastors about
how they are to preach and teach the Christ of the ancient classic doctrines
so that Christ is encountered as promise, not threat, and so that Christ
is therefore received by faith, not by some inappropriate response (eg.
'works'). This creates an opportunity for renewed and common theological
and catechetical attention to the Apostles' and Nicene creeds, that is,
to the classical Christological and Trinitarian dogmas, so that they are
experienced as Gospel confession rather than as ecclesiastical ideology.
This is a common study task in which our traditions both need and can assist
- Even though our churches do not agree fully on the meaning or expression
of episcopacy, we can give attention to the development and cultivation
of forms for consultation of leaders with each other. Simultaneously, the
leadership needs to encourage the interaction of clergy, congregations,
seminarians, and theologicans for purposes of shared experience in worship,
study and mission.
- We need to look at the authentic apostolic continuity which both our
churches evidence, although not always in identical forms, and which links
us both to the church of all ages. Simultaneously we need to increase our
awareness of the diversity of contexts throughout the world in which our
churches live and function, often side-by-side.
- We intend to ask how the practice of interim sharing of the Eucharist,
begun in the USA, could be effected in other contexts.
- We intend to describe and propose theological and pastoral exchanges
in regions where these are not already taking place as a way of implementing
the concrete steps identified above because shared life is reciprocally
related to theological agreement.
- Our Witness. All these tasks are to be understood in terms of the Church's
witness and evangelism, which includes worship and prayer, diaconic service,
and attention to issues of peace with justice.
- Lay Leadership. We regard as fundamental to the relationship of our
churches that the laity exercise responsibility for leadership in ecumenical
mission and that our envisioning of concrete steps into the future make
provision for such exercise of lay responsibility.
Ordained Ministry in German Lutheran Churches
Present structures date from World War I when the change in governmental
structures put an end to church structures based on provincial rulers (Landesherrliche
Kirchenregiment). A new solution emerged: Das synodale Bischofsamt. The
concept of shared leadership between bishop and synod has become widespread
among Lutherans. Even in the Nordic countries where the office of bishop
retained a more 'traditional' structure, synods have been introduced which
share the leadership responsibility for the church.
1. BISCHOF (Landesbischof)
Shares authority with synod which elects and can remove from office.
Primary duties: visitation and ordination. Specific duties: responsibility
for biblically sound doctrine, proclamation and counsel, congregations,
pastors and other church workers, care for the training of church workers,
advising theological faculties and church training centres, issuing pastoral
letters, representing the church in the public sector, promoting ecumenical
2. LEITENDER BISCHOF
Chairs Bishops' Conference of VELKD/VELK and its Church Council. Elected
for a term by the General Synod of VELKD/VELK.
Because of the magnitude of most of the provincial churches (Landeskirchen),
episcope is exercised within geographical subdivisions by 'assistant/suffragan
bishops' with the various titles listed below. In some provincial churches
there are two levels of subdivision -e.g. the provincial church of Bavaria
has districts (Kirchenkreise) which are subdivided into deaneries (Dekanats-bezirke);
the provincial church of Hanover has dioceses (Sprengel) which are
subdivided into districts (Kirchenkreise). In practice the chief tasks
of the 'assistant/suffragan bishops' are visitation and ordination.
3. SUPERINTENDENT (Landessuperintendent), e.g. Hanover.
4. DEKAN (Kreisdekan), e.g. Bavaria.
5. PROPST, e.g. Brunswick.
6. PRALAT, e.g. Wurttemburg.
7. OBERKIRCHENRAT, e.g. Thuringia (OKR most often designates a top-level
administrative officer whether ordained or not. In Thuringia, however,
some OKR are 'assistant/suffragan bishops' with several superintendents
under them.) It is scope of service and assigned duties which distinguish
bishops from pastors; the relationship is not hierarchical. The unity of
the one ministry of word and sacrament is emphasized.
Minister of word and sacrament in the congregation.
Person engaged in supervised parish work prior to ordination
Cf. TrSger, G., 'Das synodale Bischofsamt', TRE VI (1980), pp. 694-697.
Anglican -Lutheran International Conversations, 1970-72. The Pullach
Report. SPCK, London, 1973.
Anglican -Lutheran Dialogue, The Report of the European Commission,
1982. The Helsinki Report. SPCK, London, 1983.
Anglican -Lutheran Relations, Report of the Anglican - Lutheran Joint
Working Group, 1983. The Cold Ash Report. ACC, London / LWF, Geneva, 1983.
Anglican -Roman Catholic International Commission, The Final Report.
CTS / SPCK, London, 1982.
Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, Faith and Order Paper No. 111. WCC,
Growth in Agreement, ed. Meyer and Vischer. Paulist Press, New York
/ WCC, Geneva, 1984.
Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue IV, Eucharist and Ministry. US Catholic
Conference, Washington / LWF, New York, 1970.
Lutheran - Episcopal Dialogue, The Report of the Lutheran-Episcopal
Dialogue, Second Series, 1976-1980. Forward Movement, Cincinnati, 1981.
Lutheran - Roman Catholic Joint Commission, The Ministry in the Church.
LWF, Geneva, 1982.
Lutheran - Roman Catholic Joint Commission, Facing Unity. Models, Forms
and Phases of Catholic - Lutheran Church Fellowship. LWF, Geneva, 1985.
Lutheran Understanding of the Episcopal Office. LWF, Geneva, 1985.
Unity of the Churches, H. Fries and K. Rahner. Philadelphia, 1985.
What Can We Share? A Lutheran Episcopal Resource and Study Guide. Compiled
by William A. Norgren. Forward Movement, Cincinnati, 1985.
Papers Presented at the Consultation
Donald Juel: Episcope in the New Testament.
Stephen W. Sykes: Response to 'Episcope in the New Testament'.
Richard A. Norris Jr: The Bishop in the Church of
Walter R. Bouman: The concept of Episcope in the Lutheran bilateral
Robert J. Marshall: Episcope and the mission of the Church in the 21st
Kortright Davis: Can the Church be saved?
John G. Savarimuthu: The prophetic role of Episcope in
a Muslim country with special reference to Malaysia.
Sebastian Kolowa: Efforts towards church union in East Africa (Tanzania).
Keith S. Chittleborough: How is Episcope related to the
ministry of the whole people of God?
Nelvin Vos: To be the Body of Christ in the World. Faith Burgess: Episcope
and the laity.
G. Russell Hatton: How is Episcope related to the ministry of the whole
people of God?
Sven-Erik Brodd: Episcopacy as the fundamental and communal ministry
in the Church: Some preliminary remarks.
L. William Countryman: Mission and the Reform of Episcope.
David F. Ford: In the light of our common mission, what needs to be
reformed in our respective expressions of Episcope?
Patricia N. Page: In the light of our common mission, what needs to
be reformed in our Anglican expression of Episcope?
Jan L. Womer: In the light of our common mission, what needs to be reformed
in our respective expressions of Episcope?