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Finding Our Delight in the Lord

September 21, 2010

Here’s a noteworthy news item for you about which you may or may not already have heard.  On September 10, the Southern Province of the Moravian Church voted to enter into Full Communion with the Episcopal Church, mirroring a similar vote by the Moravian Church’s Northern Province that took place in June.  This brings an event begun at our 2009 General Convention when a vote was taken to enter into Full Communion with the Moravians to its right conclusion.  The document produced in support of that vote was entitled, “Finding Our Delight in the Lord.”

What does “Full Communion” mean, you might ask?  The following definition is from the Episcopal Church office for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Relations:

“We understand full communion to be a relation between distinct churches in which each recognizes the other as a catholic and apostolic church holding the essentials of the Christian faith.  Within this new relation, churches become interdependent while remaining autonomous…Diversity is preserved, but this diversity is not static.  Neither church seeks to remake the other in its own image, but each is open to the gifts of the other as it seeks to be faithful to Christ and his mission.  They are together committed to a visible unity in the church’s mission to proclaim the Word and administer the Sacraments.”

In addition to the above definition and in practical terms, this means I, as a duly ordained priest of the Episcopal Church, could go to a Moravian Church and celebrate the Eucharist and a Moravian minister could come here and do the same.  It means an important step to repairing the myriad fractures within Christ’s body, the Church.

The Episcopal News Service  has this helpful description of the Moravian Church:

“The Moravian Church is relatively small and concentrated in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Wisconsin; although a footnote in the full communion document notes that there are Moravian congregations in Canada that are structurally part of the Northern Province of the Moravian Church in America.

Moravians in America are part of the worldwide Christian communion formally known as the Unitas Fratrum, or Unity of the Brethren, which was founded in 1457 as part of the movement for reform of the church in what is now the Czech Republic. Persecuted almost to extinction, members of the Unitas Fratrum eventually found refuge on the estate of German nobleman Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf. In the 1700s, they went through a rebirth under Zinzendorf’s protection and grew into a global communion.”

You might already know that our own Organist, Lou Carol, teaches at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA and did her undergraduate work at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC which is in a strong Moravian area (and across the street from her husband’s and my alma mater Wake Forest University.)

The Episcopal Church is also in Full Communion with:

  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • The Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht
  • The Philippine Independent Church
  • The Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, India

The Episcopal Church is in strong Ecumenical Relationship, but not in Full Communion with:

  • The United Methodist Church
  • The Presbyterian Church USA
  • Orthodox Churches (Greek, Russian, Syrian, etc.)
  • The Roman Catholic Church
  • The African Methodist Episcopal Church
  • The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
  • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
  • United Church of Christ

For more information on these issues, you may visit the Episcopal Church’s Website for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Relations.

Fr. Ryan+

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Pete permalink
    September 21, 2010 3:50 pm

    Thanks, Fryan. Really good info.

  2. Allison M. permalink
    September 25, 2010 8:50 pm

    I’m sorry it took me a while to get to read this post and I’m glad I came back to it. (I am really enjoying your writings, Father Ryan). I am an Episcopalian because my parents are Episcopalians. The topic of your posting illustrates one of the main reasons I remain an Episcopalian. I appreciate our “belief in” and “ability to”… embrace, honor, respect, mesh with, learn from, and celebrate others. Instilled in me (through example) as a young person, I believe this character trait has served me well. I have friends and family who profess their beliefs in many “flavors” and each one of those “flavors” brings a certain spice to our lives. I pray that one day “repairing the fractures” in our own spiritual family will influence others to embrace a more peaceful and tolerant attitude worldwide.

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