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Background information on Called to Common Mission

WordAlone Network Education Committee (Co-Chaired by Meg Madson and Tim Huffman)

March, 2001


1993: What decisions about ministry were made by the 1993 ELCA Churchwide Assembly?

The Assembly adopted the final report of the Task Force on the Study of Ministry titled Together For Ministry, except for its recommendation to ordain “diaconal ministers.” The Assembly voted 790-192 not to ordain diaconal ministers, but to regard them as lay ministers

The ELCA’s five year, million dollar study had given “special attention ... to ... the possibility of articulating a Lutheran understanding and adaptation of the threefold office of bishop, pastor, and deacon and its ecumenical implication.” The Study expressly rejected several variations of the threefold hierarchy of offices. Instead, it affirmed the practice of both the LCA and ALC of having a single office of ministry shared equally by bishops and pastors. It affirmed that pastors may preside at ordinations and that lay persons may be authorized to preside at communion.

1997: What action did the 1997 Churchwide Assembly take on the Lutheran/Episcopal agreement titled The Concordat?

The Assembly failed to adopt The Concordat by a vote of 684-351. The Assembly voted to have a revised proposal (“addressing concerns that emerged during consideration of the Concordat”) brought to the 1999 Churchwide Assembly. After the Assembly Bishop Anderson announced that the revised proposal “must include the historic episcopate.” (ENS, 97-1995).

March 1999: What action did the ELCA bishops take in March 1999?

The ELCA bishops at their March 8, 1999, meeting in Tucson, Arizona adopted a resolution stating that CCM does not expect or require the ELCA to adopt the threefold pattern of bishop, priest, and deacon.

September 1999: What action did the 1999 Assembly take on Called to Common Mission (CCM)?

Upon the recommendation of the ELCA Church Council, the 1999 Assembly adopted CCM by a vote of 716-317 with the Bishops’ Tucson Resolution as a “binding interpretation” of CCM. Judge Dale Sandstrom, ELCA Church Council member, stated: “The bishops’ interpretation then becomes a binding part of the agreement, not merely an interpretation” (The Lutheran, May 1999, p.43, emphasis in the text).

December 1999: What did Secretary Lowell Almen tell Episcopal officials after the Assembly?

In December 1999 The Episcopal Church (EC) issued “Questions and Answers about CCM” which includes the following statement: “The Tucson Resolution was not voted on by the [ELCA] Churchwide Assembly and thus the national secretary of the ELCA [Lowell Almen] has clarified that it is not part of the amendment to paragraph 3 of CCM and that the EC is not being asked to vote on it”.

July 2000: What action did the July 2000 Episcopal General Convention take on CCM?

The Episcopal Convention stated that its adoption of CCM was based on The Episcopal Church and the ELCA “... having agreed that the threefold ministry of Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons in historic succession will be the future pattern of the one ordained ministry shared corporately within the two churches in full communion”

July 2000: What was the Episcopal Convention told about the status of the ELCA bishops’ Tucson Resolution?

Episcopal Bishop Rustin Kimsey, head of the Standing Committee on Ecumenical Relations, told the convention: “You need to remember that the [ELCA] Churchwide Assembly did not vote on the Lutheran bishops’ statement of what they believed about it. That was not important. So it does not carry the weight it would appear to carry.” (The audio transcript of the Episcopal bishops’ discussion of CCM at their General Convention, July 7, 2000.)

July 2000: What is the status of the Episcopal bishops’ resolution interpreting CCM?

The Episcopal Convention adopted their bishops’ resolution, giving it official status in contrast to the ELCA bishops’ resolution which “does not carry the weight it would appear to carry” because Lowell Almen has ruled that it was not adopted by the 1999 Churchwide Assembly.

Under CCM, can the ELCA have one pattern of ministry and the EC another?

No. CCM is an agreement to grow together (CCM #14) until both churches have one common pattern of ministry, specifically the historic episcopate which includes the threefold pattern of bishop, priest, and deacon. These terms are stated in technical language in CCM # # 14 and 16, and in plain English in Episcopal Resolution #A041.