Episcopal Life online reports that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark has joined the Porvoo Communion

This is the name given to a report issued at the conclusion of theological conversations by official representatives of four Anglican Churches and eight Nordic and Baltic Churches in 1989-1992. The Porvoo Common Statement included the text of the Porvoo Declaration, which the participants commended for acceptance to their Churches.

They were the Churches of England and Ireland, the Church in Wales and the Episcopal Church of Scotland, together with the Churches of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and the Evangelical-Lutheran Churches of Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia and Lithuania. Acceptance by the signatory churches means that for the first time the Anglican Churches in Britain and Ireland have now moved into visible communion with other national Churches in Europe.

Map of Porvoo participantsPreviously, the Denmark church had merely been an observer and not a signatory due to differences over the ordination of female bishops.  (The Danish Lutherans favored female bishops).  According to the Danes, Anglican bishops have “changed their positions considerably” on such issues, and there are no longer any doctrinal obstacles to membership.

Meanwhile, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) announces that their “Eastern Synod will host the North American region’s preparatory meeting for the July 2010 Eleventh Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).”   

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF now has 140 member churches in 79 countries all over the world representing over 68.9 million Christians.

The Canadian report indicates that there are three North American Lutheran denominations that belong to the Lutheran World Federation: the ELCIC, the ELCA, and the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad.  The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Wisconsin Synod (WELS), the second and third largest Lutheran denominations in the US after the ELCA, do not belong to LWF.  The LWF has been front and center of Haiti disaster relief.  ELCA president Mark Hanson currently holds the presidency of the LWF, which has its international headquarters in Geneva.

Today, the ELCA and the Moravian Church will celebrate ten years of full communion partnership at Augsburg Lutheran Church, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Leaders and members of the denominations will be attending the worship service.  The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, will preside and the Rt. Rev. Dr. D. Wayne Burkette, president, Provincial Elders’ Conference, Moravian Church North America, Southern Province, will be preaching.

The Moravian Church is one of six full communion partners of the ELCA (United Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, UCC, and Reformed Church of America).

The ELCA takes seriously its call to act ecumenically for the sake of the world and not for itself alone. Unity does not mean that two churches merge; rather, in reaching consensus churches also respect difference. In this way, full communion is when two churches develop a relationship based on a common confessing of the Christian faith and a mutual recognition of baptism and sharing of the Lord’s Supper.  These denominations likewise jointly worship, may exchange clergy, and also share a commitment to evangelism, witness and service in the world.

Jan Hus The Moravian church has its origins in 15th century Bohemia and Moravia (now part of the Czech Republic).  They trace their heritage to reformer Jan Hus, who predated Luther and who was burned at the stake for his heresy.  Hus and his followers planted the seeds of reformation which came to fruition under Luther, Calvin, and others a century later.  The Moravians arrived in the US in 1741.  Their website offers much more of their proud history.