In the November 2011 issue of The Apostle, the annual ministry report of the Anglican Church in North America, the Rt Revd Dr Ray Sutton, Chairman of the Ecumenical Relations Task Force for the ACNA, noted the relationships that are forming with confessional Lutherans in North America:
Three Lutheran groups have requested various levels of involvement with them. The first is the new North American Lutheran Church. This group has emerged from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that parallels The Episcopal Church. I have spoken at their first two conventions, having
given the sermon at their opening service of worship. They have recognized and designated one of our own seminaries, Trinity School for Ministry, as the seminary where they will send their candidates for ministry. Unlike us, they have no theological institutions for their already nearly 200 congregations and growing. Also, they have requested and it has been approved by our Provincial Council and College of Bishops to use our clergy where they have vacancies. I fully expect that we will be able to be in intercommunion with this jurisdiction within a short period of time.
Second, the historic and Biblically faithful 173 year old Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has entered into dialogue with us. We are the only non-Lutheran jurisdiction with whom they have ever had dialogue. We have had three meetings at our different seminaries (Concordia St. Louis, Reformed Episcopal Philadelphia, Concordia Ft. Wayne) and we’re scheduled to meet at Nashotah House in spring of 2012.
Third, we even have a group of Lutherans forming who believe in the historic three-fold ministry. They have asked if they could form a diocese within the ACNA. Our own confessional documents such as the 39 Articles are based on theirs. They want apostolic bishops and to have an Anglican home, so we have been working toward the formation of an Augustana Diocese in the ACNA.
These are exciting signs of a developing realignment within historic Protestantism and Anglicanism, wherein church unity among different Reformation traditions will emerge organically from a growing sense of and consensus in the historic Christian faith, grounded in the Scriptures and the catholic tradition of the undivided Church of the first millenium.
What do Dr Sutton’s words have to do with a weblog devoted to developing a sanctoral Calendar for historic, faithful, reformed catholic Anglicanism in North America? Simply this: more Lutherans in the Calendar. The basic outline of this Calendar is the inclusion first of saints recognized, commemorated, and venerated by the undivided Church of the first millenium (e.g., the Apostles and Evangelists, the Holy Innocents, Alban, Ambrose, John Chrysostom, Macrina the Younger, Basil the Great, Leo the Great, Hilda of Whitby, John of Damascus); and second of saints of the Western Church commemorated and venerated by Roman Catholics, Old Catholics, and the Churches of the Reformation, that is, saints who predate the Reformation Schism (e.g., Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Birgitta of Sweden, Francis of Assisi, Dominic, Catherine of Siena). Third, the Calendar, which in its commemoration of medieval saints concentrates on those in the British Isles, includes Reformation and post-Reformation saints important in the history of the Church of England and subsequent Anglicanism (e.g., William Tyndale, Thomas Cranmer, Lancelot Andrewes, Jeremy Taylor, John and Charles Wesley, Samuel Seabury, Phillips Brooks, Isabella Gilmore, Edward King, C.S. Lewis – John Wycliffe is also commemorated, though he predates the Reformation). Fourth, the Calendar includes a few post-Reformation saints outside the Anglican tradition (e.g., Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer) and will in time come to include more (e.g., Isaac Watts) who have exercised a significant influence on Anglican theology or liturgy.
Now, with closer relationships with confessional North American Lutherans (perhaps eventuating in full communion) and the possible development of an Augustana (Lutheran) Diocese within the Anglican Church of North America (how exciting is that?!), the Calendar must intentionally include more Reformation and post-Reformation saints important to the faith and practice of those Christians who worship as Lutherans (e.g., Philip Melancthon, Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg, Nikolai Grundtvig, Johann Sebastian Bach).
I look forward to a fuller and richer Calendar in this and coming liturgical years.