Dialogue between the Lutheran Church of Australia and Uniting Church in Australia

The dialogue between the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) and the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) has its origins in a preliminary meeting on 14 October 1978, proposing that the general aim of the dialogue was ‘to establish pulpit and altar fellowship between the churches’.

The LCA/UCA produced 5 major statements which were accepted by the 2 churches at national level over the next twelve years.

Agreed Statement on Baptism (1984)
Agreed Statement on The Eucharist (1985)
Agreed Statement on The Ministry (1986)
Agreed Statement on The Church (1988)
Agreed Statement on One Christ in Church and World (1990)

Rev Dr Anna Grant-Henderson UCA, (Co-chair), Rev Dr Peter Lockwood LCA, Rev Dr Jeff Silcock LCA (Co-chair), Rev Denise Liersch UCA, Rev Greg Pietsch LCA, Rev Tim ebbs LCA, Dr Allie Ernst LCA, Dr Michael Champion UCA, Rev David Thompson UCA Observer, Ms Melva Schneider LCA Observer, Rev Paul Stephens UCA, Rev Dr Craig Thompson UCA.

These five statements have been received officially by our two churches as ‘stages on the road to altar and pulpit fellowship’.  This was the form of ecumenism in which the theological position of each church was set out for the other to see and ensured there could be no mistakes about the issues of faith.  It was a confessional/doctrinal approach rather than an ecclesiological/ missiological approach.

The LCA/UCA dialogue came to a halt in 1993 because the goal of “altar and pulpit fellowship” was seen to be much closer by the UCA than our Lutheran friends thought appropriate.[1]  This was not an acceptable position for the LCA and the dialogue stopped for 3 years while a committee met and submitted a report. The report of the subcommittee on the LCA/UCA dialogue agreed that to get each side “to conform to a particular understanding on the nature of the church could prove an endless task”.[2] It was set up with different goals and agenda. The refocussed dialogue began in 1997 and members committed themselves “within this Dialogue to appropriate theological reflection, with a view to a practical outcome for our churches”.[3] 

The immediate task was a brief A Doxological Affirmation which was completed in May 1997.  Our next major work was the Declaration of Mutual Recognition which was adopted in its final form by the UCA Assembly Standing committee in 2010 and by the LCA Synod in 2009.

The Dialogue has completed a number of documents which are specifically to help congregations who want to join with others.  While these guidelines are specific to the LCA/UCA they could be useful to any other intending co-operating congregations. The creation of these documents  was motivated by the setting up of a co-operative arrangement at Karingal between LCA & the UCA in 2002. 

For example, the Guidelines for Establishing Shared Ministry and the templates for orders of service were accepted as very helpful aids to those who are considering a cooperative arrangement.  Our latest document A Great Prayer of Thanksgiving with Commentary was adopted by the UCA Assembly Standing Committee in March 2013.

We meet twice a year in Horsham, working alternate days in our respective LCA/UCA Horsham churches which provide incredible support and hospitality.

List of Documents:

  1. The following documents have been officially accepted by the relevant church bodies.

    A Doxological Affirmation (2009)
    Declaration of Mutual Recognition with notes (2010)
    Guidelines for Establishing Shared Ministry (2009)
    Rites of Installation and Induction (2009)
    Guidelines for the Oversight of Co-operating Congregations LCA/UCA (2012)
    A Great Prayer of Thanksgiving with Commentary (2015)

  2. Documents from the LCA/UCA Dialogue which are the result of internal discussion on a particular topic.

    Summary and Outcome of Discussion on Interpretation of Scripture.

 


[1] Appendix D, Reports to the 7th Assembly, 1993. We therefore recommend to the churches through their respective commissions that they now consider seriously their responses to the original aim of the dialogue, namely the establishing of altar and pulpit fellowship, in the light of the level of unanimity arrived at in the agreed statements, and in the light of the commitment of both churches to strive for a God-pleasing unity within the families of God’s people in Christ.

[2] Report of the Sub-committee on the LCA/UCA Dialogue, Commission for Christian Unity, 29/7/1996, Draft 4. P.4

[3] Minutes LCA/UCA Dialogue, 8-9th may, 1997.