DECLARATION OF MUTUAL RECOGNITION

by The Lutheran Church of Australia and The Uniting Church in Australia

In gratitude for God’s gracious covenant with us in Jesus Christ, the Uniting Church in Australia and the Lutheran Church of Australia freely agree to enter into a relationship of mutual recognition, as outlined in the following statement:

2.  Our Unity in Christ
In Christ, God has reconciled us to himself. In Baptism we are one body through the cross of Christ. Together we participate already now in the unity of the Spirit. With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, we desire to grow into and maintain this unity which is ours in Christ, in the bond of peace.

3.  Historical Background
Our roots are mainly in the German, Scandinavian, French, Swiss, Scottish and English churches, which were renewed by the Reformation of the sixteenth century.
We come from different parts of the world, diverse ethnic backgrounds, and with distinctive experiences of being Christian. We thank God for bringing our two communities to live together in this land, along with other Christian traditions. We thank God that we have been privileged to share our faith with the Aboriginal peoples of this land, and in turn to be enriched by their expression of that faith.
Although our forebears treasured close links with each other during the Reformation and for many years afterwards, we regret that our ignorance and misunderstanding of each other have kept us apart. We now seek to restore and develop our relationship.
The Uniting Church in Australia identifies itself in the Basis of Union (1971, 1992). The Uniting Church claims continuity with the Reformed and the Evangelical traditions, and is committed to continue to learn from the Scots Confession of Faith (1560), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), and the Savoy Declaration (1658), and also from the preaching of John Wesley (1703-91) in his Forty-Four Sermons (Basis of Union, paragraph 10).
The Lutheran Church of Australia identifies itself by adherence to the Confessions in the Book of Concord (1580) because they contain the truth of Scripture.
Both traditions have understood themselves, despite their shortcomings, as standing in continuity with the faith and ministry of the one holy catholic and apostolic church. They have therefore sought, by these statements of belief and by the maintenance of ministerial continuity, to gather Christians together into a single fellowship.
We have been in official dialogue since 1979, and have produced the following agreed statements:[1]

    • The Word of God, Justification by Faith (1981); and Law and Gospel (1982). These reports to our churches formed a basis for our future work
    • Baptism (1984), The Eucharist (1985), The Ministry (1986), The Church (1988), One Christ in Church and World (1990).These five statements have been received officially by our two churches as ‘stages on the road to altar and pulpit fellowship’.[2]
    • A Pastoral Statement on Marriage (1987), of which the two churches were asked to take note.
    • A Doxological Affirmation (1997; revised 2006).
    • Summary and Outcome of discussion on Interpretation of Scripture (2008).

Some practical co-operation is already in place, ranging from consultation at the level of heads of churches through to local ministry arrangements.

3. Our Shared Christian Heritage [3]

We identify the following ways in which we believe and practise a shared faith in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit:

3.1       The Gospel of Grace

We proclaim that ‘in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself’ (2 Cor 5:19),[4] and that we are saved by this grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. ‘This is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life’ (Eph 2:8-10). (See The Word of God, Justification by Faith and Law and Gospel.)

3.2       The Bible

We stand under the authority of the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the prophetic and apostolic testimony to Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate. (See The Word of God, Justification by Faith.)

3.3       The Creeds

We profess the ecumenical creed of Nicaea and the Apostles’ Creed.[5] We believe that Jesus is true God and a true human being, and confess one God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

3.4       The Church

We believe that the church is created and preserved by the triune God, through God’s saving action in word and sacraments, to be in the world as sign, instrument and foretaste of the kingdom of God. We recognise that the church stands in constant need of reform and renewal. (See The Church.)

3.5       Mission and Ministry

We believe that all members of the church are called to participate in its apostolic mission. For this the Holy Spirit gives them various gifts for service. Within the community of the church, the ordained ministry[6] exists to serve the ministry and mission of the whole people of God. We hold that the ordained ministry of word and sacrament is God’s gift to the church, and so an office of divine institution. (See The Ministry.)

3.6       Baptism

We believe that through Baptism with water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the baptised are united with Christ in his death and resurrection, incorporated into his body, the church, and receive by faith God’s grace and the gift of new life in the Spirit. (See Baptism.)

3.7       The Eucharist

We believe that the body and blood of Christ are truly present in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. Thus, the bread and wine we eat and drink are a participation in the body and blood of Christ and join us with the whole creation in thanksgiving and praise to God our creator and redeemer. We believe that we receive the grace of divine forgiveness and new life offered in the sacrament and respond with the thankful offering of ourselves for God’s service. (See The Eucharist.)

3.8      Public Worship

We rejoice that God graciously serves us in word and sacrament when we gather in Christ’s name. We celebrate and proclaim our salvation in Christ, and we are built up together into the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. We use similar orders of service for the Eucharist, for Baptism and Confirmation, for confession and absolution, for marriage and funeral rites. We share a common lectionary, as well as songs and prayers. (See A Doxological Affirmation.)

3.9       The Christian Hope

We look forward to the fulfilment of Christ’s prayer that we may all be one (John 17:11,22,23), to the renewal of creation (Rev 21:1) and the universal acclaim of the Lamb that was slain, to whom be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever (Rev 5:13).

4.  Affirmation

We affirm in each other’s churches the presence of the one holy catholic and apostolic church. We believe that, despite our shortcomings, we stand in the continuity of apostolic faith and ministry. We acknowledge and respect each other’s ordination and look forward to the mutual recognition of one another’s ministries as real and effective expressions of the proclamation of the word, the administration of the sacraments, and pastoral oversight. We have learnt much from each other. We pledge to work together to develop joint participation in worship, witness and service, and to continue to seek ways of manifesting the unity that is ours in Christ.

5.  Cooperation

We encourage local co-operation between our two churches in the ministry of the word and pastoral care, and a shared deployment of human and material resources for witness to local communities by word and deed. This co-operation will respect and learn from the distinctive traditions enshrined in the Book of Concord and the Basis of Union. Particular arrangements may include arrangements for shared ministry where it is preferable that a minister of either church be given pastoral and/or sacramental responsibility for the members of both denominations. In such cases, the minister(s) will be commissioned by the Uniting Church Presbytery Chairperson and the Lutheran Church District President.

6.  Future Growing Together in God’s Mission

We undertake to continue to work together towards the following goals:

  • Intentional sharing in pastoral ministry and in mission.
  • A Concordat for full communion, so that members from either denomination may share in Holy Communion in each other’s churches.

Together we make our prayer that, ‘being rooted and grounded in love, we may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that we may be filled with all the fullness of God’ (Eph 3:17-19).

Adopted by the LCA–UCA dialogue, Nov 1999
Adopted by the 9th Assembly of the UCA, July 2000
Revised by the LCA–UCA dialogue, Nov 2008
Adopted by the Lutheran Church of Australia, Oct 2009
Adopted by the UCA Assembly Standing Committee, March 2010


Covering letters and explanatory note

 

On the following pages are:

  • Covering letter presenting the Declaration of Mutual Recognition (18 November 2008)
  • Explanatory note to the covering letter in response to feedback from the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly Standing Committee (20 April 2010)
  • Letter presenting the explanatory note (19 August 2010)

 

Lutheran Church of Australia and Uniting Church in Australia

Rev Dr Sandy Yule
Secretary
Christian Unity Working Group
Uniting Church in Australia
Rev Dr Anna Grant-Henderson
23, Linfield Ave
Belair 
 South Australia 5052
Rev Dr Jeffrey Silcock Chair
Commission on Theology
and Inter-Church Relations    
Lutheran Church of Australia 
Rev Jeffrey Silcock
North Adelaide
South Australia 5006

18 November 2008

Dear Dr Yule and Dr Silcock

The Lutheran—Uniting Church Dialogue has pleasure in presenting to its two respective church bodies a revised version of the Declaration of Mutual Recognition. The original version was adopted by the UCA assembly in 2000 but was never put to the LCA’s general synod. The dialogue hopes that this revised declaration will be presented to the LCA’s synodical convention and the UCA’s Assembly in 2009.

The document provides the theological basis for shared ministries and eucharistic hospitality between our two churches where one or other church is unable to provide ministry to their people. Like the Anglican–Lutheran document Common Ground, it represents a stage on the way to the ultimate goal of mutual recognition. The dialogue recognises and accepts that the LCA will need to add the same three provisos for any shared ministry or eucharistic hospitality between our churches that the LCA synod added to Common Ground at its adoption in 2003. These provisos are as following:

That the UCA minister of the word that is called provide pastoral and sacramental ministry to a Lutheran congregation must be a male and publicly teach baptismal regeneration and the bodily presence of the risen Christ in the eucharistic bread and wine. In the light of the UCA proposal 84 adopted by the 2003 Assembly, it is also necessary to add the proviso that the UCA minister in question could not be in a same-gender relationship.

In the light of the above, we ask our two church bodies to acknowledge the theological and liturgical position of a UCA minister being considered for service rather than referring only to formal UCA documents. This would correspond to the respect expected of an LCA pastor serving a UCA congregation in regard to Uniting Church positions.

Your servants in Christ

Rev Dr Anna Grant-Henderson                           Rev Dr Jeffrey Silcock
UCA Co-Chair                                                             LCA Co-Chair
LCA-UCA National Dialogue                                 LCA-UCA National Dialogue


 

Explanatory Note to the covering letter of 18 November 2008

This explanatory note is in response to feedback from the Uniting Church Assembly Standing Committee to the covering letter. The response focused on the language of the provisos and the lack of mutual accountability.

The dialogue recognises that there will need to be mutual accountability and some specific requirements for any shared ministry or eucharistic hospitality between our churches. This note clarifies and balances the language of the first covering letter. The documents on Baptism and the Eucharist are appended.

Regarding the sacraments

A pastor or minister from either church will need to teach publicly the understanding of baptism as accepted in the Agreed Statement on Baptism (1984 & paragraph 3.6 in the Declaration) and on the eucharist in the Agreed Statement on Eucharist (1985 & paragraph 3.7 in the Declaration).

 Paragraph 3.6 in the Declaration reads:

We believe that through Baptism with water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the baptised are united with Christ in his death and resurrection, incorporated into his body, the church, and receive by faith God’s grace and the gift of new life in the Spirit. (See Baptism.)

Paragraph 3.7 in the Declaration reads:

We believe that the body and blood of Christ are truly present in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. Thus, the bread and wine we eat and drink are a participation in the body and blood of Christ and join us with the whole creation in thanksgiving and praise to God our creator and redeemer. We believe that we receive the grace of divine forgiveness and new life offered in the sacrament and respond with the thankful offering of ourselves for God’s service. (See The Eucharist.)

Regarding Ministers and Pastors

To satisfy LCA requirements a minister or pastor called to provide pastoral and sacramental ministry to cooperating LCA-UCA congregations must be male and not be in a same gender relationship. To satisfy UCA requirements the minister or pastor must be willing to work with and support women and men, both lay and ordained, as colleagues in their appointed ministries. The minister or pastor retains oversight of liturgical leadership within the cooperating congregations.

In the light of the above, we ask our two churches that, as they go about choosing a suitable candidate, they take into account the candidate’s own theological and liturgical integrity.

LCA-UCA Dialogue

20 April 2010
Lutheran Church of Australia and Uniting Church in Australia

General Secretary
Assembly Standing Committee
UCA
Piccadilly Court,
Level 2, 222 Pitt St
Sydney, NSW, 2000

Rev Dr Anna Grant-Henderson
23, Linfield Ave
Belair
South Australia 5052

Rev Dr Jeffrey Silcock
Chair
Commission on Theology
and Inter-Church Relations
Lutheran Church of Australia

Rev Jeffrey Silcock
104 Jeffcott Street
North Adelaide
South Australia 5006

 

19 August 2010

Dear General Secretary and Dr Semmler

Please find attached an explanatory note to the covering letter of 18 Nov 2008 which accompanied the Declaration of Mutual Recognition between the LCA and the UCA. This document, you will recall, provides the theological basis for congregations of our two churches, under certain conditions, to engage in shared ministries and offer each other eucharistic hospitality under the oversight of the LCA District President and the UCA Presbytery. As you both know, the declaration, along with the accompanying letter, was adopted by the LCA’s national synodical convention in October 2009.

When the LCA—UCA dialogue met late last year, it concurred with the opinion of the UCA’s Assembly Standing Committee that the language of the covering letter was too one-sided and needed to be rewritten. Four demands were made of a UCA minister, serving in a cooperative arrangement, to satisfy LCA requirements, but no demands were made of a Lutheran pastor in this situation. It was therefore unanimously resolved that where there is a shared ministry there needs to be mutual accountability and specific requirements for ministers of both churches.

Rather than attempting to draft a new covering letter, which at least for the LCA, would have to be adopted by its national synod in 2012, the dialogue decided that it would simply append an explanatory note to the original covering letter setting out the mutual accountability and specific requirements which each church makes of the other church’s ministers wherever our two churches enter into an arrangement of eucharistic hospitality. Since the substance of the original letter remains unchanged, it does not need to go before our national assemblies.

One further clarification to the original letter is made in the explanatory note in relation to Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Where the original covering letter simply states the two provisos applicable to UCA ministers, the explanatory note actually cites the relevant paragraph from the agreed statements on Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as published in Stages on the Way. Again, nothing is changed. The explanatory note here simply sets out the sacramental agreement between our two churches which forms the doctrinal basis for a cooperative ministry arrangement. The full documents (agreed statements on Baptism and the Lord’s Supper) are attached for easy reference.

Your servants in Christ

Rev Dr Anna Grant-Henderson                           Rev Dr Jeffrey Silcock
UCA Co-Chair                                                              LCA Co-Chair
LCA-UCA National Dialogue                                 LCA-UCA National Dialogue




[1] Available, except for ‘A Doxological Affirmation’, in RK Williamson, (ed), Stages on the Way, Joint Board of Christian Education, Melbourne, 1994.

[2] Stages on the Way, 174.

[3] Each of the following sub-sections is a brief summary of a particular topic discussed by our dialogue. For a full discussion of each topic, please refer to the text of the respective agreed statements indicated.

[4] All scripture references are to the NRSV.

[5] The LCA also adds the Athanasian Creed.

[6] In the UCA, ordained ministry includes the Ministry of Word and the Ministry of Deacon.