United Methodists have taken the first step toward full communion with Episcopalians and most Lutherans after their bishops approved an agreement to share the Eucharist, with members of the two other denominations.
When Pope Benedict XVI announced in his first sermon that he has a “primary commitment to work without sparing energies for the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all the followers of Christ,” many expressed surprise.
The church council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has recommended that its churchwide assembly in August approve interim sharing of the Eucharist between the ELCA and the United Methodist Church. The ELCA bishops earlier endorsed the step, which follows years of Lutheran–United Methodist dialogues.
The fledgling Christian Churches Together—a painstakingly crafted amalgam of U.S. mainline Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, racial/ethnic and evangelical/Pentecostal churches—will organize formally behind closed doors early in June and publicly celebrate the milestone in September.
A fifth Methodist body has joined an ongoing effort to foster cooperation among black and white Methodists. The little-known Union American Methodist Episcopal Church joined the Commission on Pan-Methodist Cooperation and Union during the commission’s November 19-21 meeting in Dallas, the United Methodist News Service reported.
With the U.S. leaders of mainline Presbyterian and Lutheran denominations picked recently as presidents of their respective worldwide Protestant families of churches, the top three ecumenical officials in Geneva—all of them African clergy—will have unprecedented opportunities for communication between the most powerful nation and a continent boasting Christianity’s most dynamic growth.
Now, when the ecumenical movement seems to be at low tide, there appears a scintillating biography of one of the premier 20th-century American ecumenists. In both status and leadership gifts Douglas Horton (1891-1968) was a prince of ecumenism.
Organizers of a daringly broad coalition of evangelical, Catholic, mainline Protestant and Orthodox Christians say they expect the organization will finalize its formation in May 2005—the first time this variety of U.S. Christians will have joined in a meaningful structure to express a common witness.