Full communion is understood as recognizing and valuing the diverse gifts present in each church; respecting each other as part of one holy catholic and apostolic church; committing each church to cooperate in common ministries of evangelism, witness and service; recognizing the validity of each other’s sacramental life and ministerial orders, allowing for the transfer of membership between churches and the exchange of clergy according to the regulations of each church; and committing each church to continue to work for the unity of the church.
Brenda Bell, Eric Voight and I had the privilege of representing the Wisconsin Rapids congregation at our recent Northern Province Synod. It was a wonderful blend of renewed and new friendships, amazing worship, deep discussions about the work of the church, elections of our leadership, and a sense of God’s Spirit moving throughout. The Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller was re-elected provincial president and covets our prayers for the next intersynodal period.
The first piece of legislation approved by the Synod was a full communion relationship with the United Methodist Church. Bishop Chris Giesler, who had participated on the team bringing this proposal, reminded the committee reviewing it of the long history between the Methodists and the Moravians, beginning with the Rev. John Wesley’s (1703-1791) faith renewal through his contact with Moravians. Wesley went on to develop the Methodist Church. And while the two faith communities went their separate ways, they continue to share much in common, including their emphases on music and mission. Bro. Giesler shared that the decision to go forward in full communion was a “no-brainer.”
Affirming full communion with our Methodist partners set the tone for many other resolutions that came before the Synod, encouraging increasing partnership with our local and national ecumenical partners, and also with interfaith communities, as we seek to live out Christ’s call to serve others and share God’s love. We are already taking steps toward ecumenical partnership as we develop our new ministries. May we continue to grow in appreciating how such partnerships strengthen our own faith and ministry.
“The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one…so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:22-23