Episcopal bishops OK Lutheran ties

Saturday, July 8th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DENVER – The nation's Episcopal bishops approved an alliance with the country's largest Lutheran denomination Friday under which the two faiths would share clergy and recognize each other's sacraments.

The merger still needed approval from the other chamber of the Episcopal Church's bicameral Legislature, the House of Deputies, which includes lay people and clergy. The deputies were to meet later Friday.

The church's 300-member House of Bishops, meeting at the Episcopal General Convention, gave overwhelming approval to the plan for "full communion" with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

"It's a big moment in terms of official church cooperation," said the Rev. Lowell Almen, secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

The Rev. Lauren Stanley, an Episcopal priest from Arlington, Va., who has preached to Lutheran congregations, said, "What it finally recognized is that we are one in the body of Christ."

The two churches, with a combined 7.5 million members, have discussed an alliance for three decades. The 2.4 million-member Episcopal Church approved a similar plan in 1997, and Lutherans endorsed one last year.

The alliance proposal would allow Lutheran clergy to serve in an Episcopal church without going through an Episcopal ordination. But new Lutheran bishops would have to be ordained the traditional Episcopal way if they want to preach in an Episcopal church.