Elements of Anglican and Lutheran worship will mark celebrations on 1 May 2011 of a decade of full communion relationships between the Episcopal Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and, in Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
There will be simultaneous celebrations at St Paul's Anglican Church, Fort Erie, Ontario and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Buffalo, New York, according to news releases from the Episcopal and Lutheran churches.
At St Paul's, Bishop Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Canadian Lutheran church, will preside and Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will preach.
At Holy Trinity in Buffalo, Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the American Lutheran church will preside and Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Canadian Anglican church, will preach.
"We have chosen a place near the border between our countries to celebrate our historic agreements, to provide a unified witness to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus, to share our commitment for renewal in Christ's Church and in God's creation, and to serve our neighbour in need," Hanson said.
"Ten years is only a beginning - we are yet young in this work," Jefferts Schori said in a statement. "This celebration is especially notable in transcending the national boundaries between Canadian and US churches. God truly knows no bounds. May these words of Morning Prayer take on new significance: 'O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and those who are near,' and may we together become builders of that world of peace," she said.
The agreement between the American churches, 'Called to Common Mission', and the Canadian agreement, 'The Waterloo Declaration', both took effect in 2001.
"'Called to Common Mission' has been a remarkable opportunity for Lutherans and Episcopalians to recognize that what we share is far greater than what distinguishes one part of the Body of Christ from the other," noted Jefferts Schori. "More and more church members have experienced the grace and blessing of the other tradition, and increasing numbers of congregations regularly share the gift of pastoral and sacramental ministry with a pastor or priest from the other tradition. We are sharing more resources in serving God's mission, particularly at churchwide levels of staff and programme."
Bishop Hanson called the celebration "an important reminder that neither historic divisions between churches nor boundaries between our nations are obstacles for sharing mission and ministry together." He added, "We give thanks to God for what has been established through the full communion agreements in our two countries. We look forward to a deeper reception among our four churches."
In Canada, churches are being urged to celebrate the day in their local congregations.
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews , formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]