on the Way"
On the Last Sunday in October, we will commemorate Reformation Day, looking back to October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther posted "95 Theses" on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Intended for debate and discussion, they marked the beginning of division between the Roman Catholic church and what would become the churches of the Protestant Reformation.
As we look forward to the 500th Anniversary of this event, Lutherans and Roman Catholics have been invited to enter into discussion of "Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry and Eucharist." At the heart of this document are thirty-two "statements of agreement" on which Lutherans and Catholics have achieved consensus on the topics of church, ministry and Eucharist as the result of ecumenical dialogue between the two communions since 1965. These agreements on issues that once were sources of bitter disagreement, signals that Catholics and Lutherans are indeed "on the way" to full, visible unity.
But the document also notes that difficult barriers remain. 15 topics are identified of differences that still exist between Lutherans and Roman Catholics, along with suggestions of possible ways forward. "Declaration on the Way" has received approval of the American Conference of Bishops and was approved by the 2016 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Churchwide Assembly meeting in New Orleans. In our Rocky Mountain Synod, a number of worship services to celebrate this important document have been held in a number of locations, where our Bishop, James Gonia, was joined in dialogue with his Roman Catholic counterpart.
Roman Catholic and ELCA congregations are encouraged to discuss the document which was done at Glory of God on August 27 , led by Pastor Carl Hansen. Dr. Hansen has prepared an outline of the areas of consensus and difference for our discussion, but individuals desiring to read the entire 32-page document can find it at the ELCA Website: ELCA.org.
Pastor Hansen and his wife, Betty, are new members at GOG. He is the Emeritus President of Midland University in Nebraska and a former faculty member of Bethany College in Kansas. Since his move back to Denver in 1999, he has served as Adult Education pastor at Bethany Lutheran, Cherry Hills Village, as well as several interim pastorates in the Denver Metro Area. Please contact Pastor Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions prior to the discussion.