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Change Proposed in 2-Church Accord

October 21, 2000|Religion News Service

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has proposed a compromise to pastors who object to elements of the new full communion agreement with the Episcopal Church.

The "Called to Common Mission" agreement between Lutherans and Episcopalians, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, will allow the churches to share clergy and joint mission projects but stops short of an outright merger.

Several Lutheran factions, especially in the upper Midwest, oppose the agreement's rules on ordinations.

Under the accord, Lutherans agreed to adopt the Episcopal practice of ordination only by a bishop. New Lutheran ministers could no longer be ordained by rank-and-file Lutheran clergy.

The Lutheran denomination's Conference of Bishops, meeting in Chicago earlier this month, offered a compromise proposal. Under the plan, if a new pastor wished to be "irregularly ordained" without a bishop, the synod's bishop would consult both the church's presiding bishop and the synod council to make a "pastoral decision" on ordination.

The proposal would have to be ratified by the denomination's Churchwide Assembly meeting in Indianapolis next summer.

The Rev. Daniel Martensen, the church's ecumenical liaison, cautioned that the compromise could cause concern in the Episcopal Church.

"There are certainly voices within the Episcopal Church that would be raised as a matter of concern that we might be undermining" the agreement, he said.

At the same time, opponents of the agreement say, the proposed compromise would not address all of their concerns.

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