A proposal calling for full communion between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Episcopal Church was put back on track with the April 9 release of “Called to Common Mission: A Lutheran Proposal for a Revision of the Concordat of Agreement.”
The original Concordat was overwhelmingly approved by last summer’s General Convention of the Episcopal Church but failed, by only six votes, to receive the required two-thirds majority in the ELCA Churchwide Assembly. In a subsequent vote, by margins over 90 per cent, the assembly passed two resolutions, affirming its continuing commitment “to the ultimate goal of full communion,” and calling for intensive study and a new proposal for the 1999 assembly.
The draft, hammered out in four intense months of work, now goes to meetings of the 65 ELCA synods in the coming months and could be revised again before the Church Council sends a final draft to the Churchwide Assembly in the summer of 1999.
In a covering letter sent with the draft and several comments by the Lutheran members of the drafting committee, Bishop Christopher Epting of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa said, “This text, while addressing many Lutheran concerns, stands in essential continuity with the document already voted on by the General Convention of 1997.” He expressed the “hope and trust” that the General Convention of 2000 could take a second vote on “related constitutional changes.”