When our open-ended conversations began six years ago, some of the signatories to this report approached our task with a mixture of low expectations and a certain nervousness before the unknown. All of us are somewhat surprised to have discovered the deep common bonds between us in the Body of Christ, and to have registered the large measure of consensus that we have documented above. We regard these things that we have discovered together as a gift of the Lord, and trust Him to use our findings to His glory and to the good of the universal Church.
As we commend this report to the people and clergy of ACNA, LCMS, and LCC, we encourage Lutherans and Anglicans to remember each other in prayer, embrace one another in Christian love, to encourage each other to confess Christ boldly in our ever darkening times, and to support each other in mission and outreach in faithfulness to Him who has laid the same Great Commission on us all.
Those are the words that concluded that statement by the Anglican Church in North America and Lutheran Church Canada and Lutheran Church Missouri Synod representatives from an extended conversation that was remarkable in both tone and content. Though they admit that the groups are in a state of imperfect communion, the groups are intent upon serious discussion of the differences and commonalities of two groups that share a different past but, it seems, a future that will draw them together. In an age in which minimalism is the theme of doctrine and truth, both groups are determined to forge a consensus based upon the maximum confession of doctrine and truth in all its articles. Perhaps this will become the model for the future as conservative groups within the broader Anglican communion and Lutherans unwilling to go the route of reconciled diversity seek to find strength in unity and unity built upon Scripture and faithful confession. Time will tell.
I can only encourage you to read the entire report and to give the dialogue your prayerful support. It represents a unique moment for both Lutheran groups in a minority among liberal Christian bodies in America and for Anglicans who shaking off the jurisdiction and order to face the more urgent issues of what is to be believed. Who would have thought that a day like this might come when serious minded Christians intent upon affirming the Scriptures, catholic doctrine, and truth would begin to turn their paths toward one another? I certainly did not foresee it.
For those who continue to fear such serious minded ecumenical conversations, I would encourage you to look at the caliber of the individuals who represent all sides. These are serious individuals, not prone to whim or fancy, who are committed not to a quick fix but a long term process in which the integrity of the work will stand and whatever unity results will be positive and bear good fruit. I commend them.
The Rev. Ronald Allen, Anglican Church in North America
The Rev. Dr. Frederic W. Baue. Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
The Rev. Peter Frank, Anglican Church in North America
The Rt. Rev. David L. Hicks, Anglican Church in North America
The Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
The Rev. Canon Dr. Jonathan S. Riches, Anglican Church in North America
The Rev. Dr. Lawrence Rast, Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod
The Rev. Dr. John Stephenson, Lutheran Church–Canada
The Rt. Rev. Ray R. Sutton, Anglican Church in North America
The Rev. Larry Vogel, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod