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Spring Meeting 2016- Looking into 2017

Lutheran Moravian Coordinating Committee Meets in Bethlehem, May 2016
Thirty (?) Moravian and ELCA clergy gathered on the campus of Moravian College- Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in early May to give thanks and to imagine new ways of living out our full communion partnership of worship, fellowship and mission.
The two denominations entered into a bi-lateral dialog in the mid 1990’s in order to better understand each others teachings, practices, sense of mission, and traditions.  This led to a full recognition of ministries and partnership in 1998 and 1999.  “Following Our Shepherd to Full Communion” is the name of the document which summarizes the essential points of discussion during the dialogs and which sets forth a set of recommendations to be followed by the two denominations for the sake of our common mission in Jesus Christ for the sake of the world.
Bishop Samuel Zeiser of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the ELCA and Rev. David Bennett, President of the Eastern District of the Northern Province of the Moravian Church have led the way in celebrating and exploring avenues for common mission within their judicatories.
Bishop Zieser and Rev. Bennett opened the recent gathering in Bethlehem with stories of how partnership in ministry and mission is being lived out “on the ground” in Pennsylvania. For example, a congregation in Shanandoah, PA has become a vital center of ministry to the community through the cooperative efforts of Lutherans, Moravians, and Episcopalians.
These opening remarks led to sharing from others about joint ministries in the area. Youth retreats, pastoral care for the members of Morarvian Hall Square, distribution of  clothing to those in need were some of the examples which were mentioned.
How do we as Moravians and Lutherans move forward, building up the Body of Christ in service to our neighbors in the future?  As the discussion progressed, several important themes were sounded.  The way forward is unscripted and therefore needs to grow organically, through processes of conversation between clergy, between laypersons, in response to real needs in our communities.  No one size fits all paradigm for joint ministry exists and even if it did.  It will develop as community needs become apparent and as personal relations grow. In line with this train of thought, the conference participants wondered how the seminaries of the two denominations might be involved.  In addition, interdenominational prayer partnerships could be developed between clergy and lay members for mutual support and for the sake of discovering where and how the Holy Spirit might be at work in our communities.
The time spent together in prayer and conversation proved to be most encouraging, dynamic, and hopeful.  The members of the Lutheran-Moravian Coordinating Committee, who organized the conference in Bethlehem, will continue to build upon the success of this gathering and are planning a similar conference to be held in Winston-Salem, NC in mid May of 2017.
Written by The Rev. Dr. Chris Thomforde

Bold Like Jesus: An Eccumenical Conference

Join us for Bold Like Jesus January 21-23, 2016 at Christ Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC. Register Here.

Bold Like Jesus is an ecumenical conference that brings together Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Moravians from across North Carolina to explore what it means to be bold like Jesus in a complex and changing world. Dynamic presenters will help those in attendance explore the courageous actions people can take as they commit to bold steps in their churches, communities, and the world at large.

The conference takes place at Christ Lutheran Church January 21 through 23 in Charlotte, NC. Keynote speakers include the Rev. Becca Stevens, Shane Claiborne, and the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Love. Music is being provided Friday evening by singer/songwriter Rachel Kurtz. The program (including more info about speakers), the full schedule, and registration is accessible at Bold like Jesus.

Registration for Bold Like Jesus opened October 1 and will close January 17, 2016, with discounts and scholarships available through January 7. Youth and youth groups are invited to attend the Friday evening, January 22 event (Rachel Kurtz in Concert.) Youth will be admitted free of charge that night. The organizers hope for a large, diverse, and eager-to-learn crowd at the conference.

ELCA and Moravian Youth & Adults Bond Together In Mission

Every summer for the past 24 years, a group of youth and adults from The Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit (Emmaus, PA) has traveled to Starks, Maine, a very beautiful and rural area. The group stays at the Camp at the Eastward, where the setting is gorgeous and the cabins are rustic. In Starks, the winters are harsh and the homeowners struggle to afford the labor and materials needed to keep their homes in repair. The weeklong adventure consists of service, community, and spirituality. The hard work proves to be a growing experience and very rewarding for all involved.

In planning this year’s trip, Holy Spirit reached out to Emmaus Moravian Church to join together in ministry. In response, two high school youth joined the 2015 trip.

Together, on July 31st, a group of 34 left Emmaus for Starks for a week of hard work, new friendships, and community. The Project Help group works with East Parish Housing Ministry Inc., a not-for-profit community led organization focused on assisting homeowners through volunteers. The work projects are selected through an application process that is managed by the East Parish Housing board. Project Help supplies the volunteer labor and financial support for building supplies. Work includes home repairs, helping folks stay in their homes through accessibility improvements (e.g. ramps and stairs), and splitting firewood for winter heat.

This year, Project Help worked on 13 different jobs over the five days of “work camp” in Maine. The projects included:

  • Splitting and stacking over 4 cords of firewood
  • Painting the North Anson, Maine fire station because they could not afford the labor
  • Painting metal roofs to keep water and snow out. Metal roofing is common in Maine due to the heavy snows.
  • Serving at two local food cupboards that support over 75 families each month
  • Completely rebuilt an exterior wall that had been severely damaged by water and ice dams
  • Installed a new entrance door on a home

Each year, Project Help’s roots deepen within the community. We feel so welcomed by each of the homeowners and truly experience God’s grace in so many ways. On Sunday, the group attended Shorey Chapel (UCC) in Industry, Maine. It was a wonderful time of worship and fellowship with the community who served a vast potluck luncheon for our group. On Wednesday, over 40 people from the community attended our picnic at camp, receiving quilts made by church members, and enjoying our “talent” show activities.

The ELCA Church Honors 15 Years of Full Communion with Moravians.

Below is a link to an article that was written by the ELCA church about the celebration of our 15th anniversary of being in a full communion agreement.  The Moravian Church will have an article reflecting their thoughts in the coming weeks.

ELCA 15th Anniversary Article

Lutheran Moravian Coordinating Committee Annual Meeting


LMCC 2015 Meeting Summary

The Lutheran-Moravian Coordinating Committee met July 27-29 at the Laurel Ridge Moravian Camp and Retreat Center in Laurel Springs, North Carolina, under the gracious hospitality of the Southern Province. The Committee’s key accomplishments were:

  • Launching a Facebook page and blog,
  • Identifying several stories of shared ministries to lift up (on the blog and elsewhere) as examples and encouragement to our churches.
  • Engaging in a strategic planning process based on the intersection of the committee’s constituencies and responsibilities.
  • Developing a initial model for formation and missional engagement between Lutheran and Moravian rostered and lay leaders in places where our churches are strongly present, starting with a convening in 2016 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania that will be held in conjunction with the Committee’s annual meeting.
  • Lifting up the 15th anniversary of our full communion partnership and looking toward the future to discern where the next 15 years might lead us together as we follow the Shepherd.

Two Wilmington NC Churches Illustrate Meaning of Full Communion

Two Wilmington, N.C. churches illustrate meaning of full communion

When the Moravian Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) joined in a full communion relationship in 1999, both denominations saw opportunities to work together. In February, two Wilmington, N.C. churches joined in a Joint Ministry Worship Celebration that sealed a unique relationship between two congregations—and the two denominations.

At the celebration, the Rev. Rachel Connelly, an ELCA pastor and leader of Water of Life Lutheran Church, was installed as the pastor of the Covenant Moravian congregation, too. With this installation, both congregations will share a pastor, the Covenant Moravian building and many aspects of their ministries. However, although Moravians and Lutherans share some similarities in their faith traditions and organize their church year using the same Common Lectionary, the two congregations will hold separate worship services.

A growing relationship
The relationship between Water of Life and Covenant Moravian has been growing for more than five years. Water of Life began renting space at Covenant Moravian for worship and ministry in the fall of 2008.

During the first few years of working with Covenant, Pastor Rachel worked closely with Convenant Moravian’s pastor, the Rev. Tracy Pryor. The two pastors and congregations shared together in Lenten services, youth ministries, and Vacation Bible School. Rachel had also served as the ELCA Church Council liaison to the Moravian Church in North America, and Tracy has served as Co-Chair of the Lutheran-Moravian Coordinating Committee.

In January 2012, Pastor Rachel became the interim pastor at Covenant when Tracy was called to serve Schoenbrunn Moravian Church in New Philadelphia, Ohio.

The Covenant Moravian Board and Water of Life Lutheran Leadership Team have been meeting together every other month since August 2013 to share in conversations of asset-mapping and shared ministry. The two boards became united in their thoughts that the congregations could do more together than apart and sought to enter into a Joint Ministry Covenant to broaden the scope of their mission.

The Joint Ministry Covenant provides opportunity for the two congregations to grow their youth and family ministry, extend their missional outreach, accelerate staff development plans, and expand music programs.
The Joint Ministry Covenant proposed to call Pastor Rachel to serve as pastor to the two congregations and proposed that the congregations keep their separate identities, boards and denominational associations. The Covenant was voted on unanimously by both churches.


Celebrating Joint Ministry
“We had a wonderful, Spirit-led day of Joint Ministry Worship Celebration and my installation as Pastor to Covenant Moravian Church on Sunday, Feb. 16th,” says Pastor Rachel. “The sanctuary was filled to overflowing with 187 in attendance including an eighteen-piece brass band from Raleigh Moravian Church.”
The Reverend Ronald A. Rinn (ELCA) led the Baptismal Renewal and shared comments about the history and conversation that led to the Moravian/Lutheran Full-communion agreement, Following our Shepherd in 1999.

The Rev. David Guthrie, president of the Southern Province Provincial Elders Conference, preached and installed Pastor Rachel. The Rev. Bill Milholland of Reconciliation Lutheran Church, Wilmington presided at communion, while the Rev. Judith Justice, a Moravian pastor who is retired and lives in Ocean Isle Beach, was the reader during worship.

At the catered meal following worship, greetings were brought from a number of ELCA and Moravian pastors, including Rachel’s father, the Rev. James Connelly. Members of the Southern Province PEC were also present. Covenant Moravian Board vice chair Charles Baldwin, and Water of Life Leadership Team president Sandy Collette also shared a welcome and comments about the excitement that has been a part of this new Joint Ministry Venture.

During the celebration, an offering of nearly $1000 was collected to support the Backpack Buddy program which is a new Joint Ministry Outreach that provides weekend meals for children at Bellamy Elementary who are considered nutritionally fragile.

The Rev. Rachel Connelly is pastor of the Covenant Moravian and Water of Life Lutheran congregations. Thanks to Don Britt and Andy Lee (Wilmington FAVS) for the photos.  Article and pictures originally printed in the Moravian Magazine produced by the Inter-Provincial Board of Communication of the Moravian Church in North America.  Used by permission.

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