Churches consecrate a lot of marriages. St. Alban’s consecrated a different kind of holy union on Trinity Sunday. We celebrated the Covenant of Shared Ministry between Faith Lutheran Church and St. Alban’s. In the words of Rev. Laura Dorsey, “We are… here today to celebrate the fact that your two congregations have made a choice to make covenants, promises, with each other to continue in sharing ministries, fellowship and a cleric. It is a beginning of a process, a process that will hopefully prove successful to both congregations.”
Both of our parishes have struggled to find a pastor for extended periods of time. The two parishes are geographically only two miles apart. We have a history of joint Bible study, spiritual formation and worship. We have similar social and theological values. And the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America are in full communion.
For almost 2 years, representatives from the two churches have explored the possibilities of shared ministry. While the dialogue was motivated initially by the goal of creating a more attractive financial package for a prospective rector/pastor, our relationship has grown beyond the financial focus. Whether or not we are successful in calling a shared minister, we are already sharing study, spiritual formation activities, worship, fellowship and planning outreach ministries.
Rev. Dorsey went on to say: “And while this is something new for us here to today—it’s not so new to the relationship between Lutheran Churches in America and the Episcopal Church. There is much history to this before the Concordat of 30 some years ago that allows for us to seek this process/opportunity.”
“Here are some excerpts from the Concordat:
Our churches have discovered afresh our unity in the gospel and our commitment to the mission to which God calls the church of Jesus Christ in every generation. Unity and mission are organically linked in the Body of Christ, the church….
The purpose of this Concordat of Agreement is to achieve full communion between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church. Our churches have set this goal in response to our Lord’s prayer that all may be one. Our growing unity is urgently required so that our churches will be empowered to engage more fully and more faithfully the mission of God in the world.”
Rev. Dorsey finished her sermon with this: “And so, as Paul writes to the Ephesians (and as is the closing statement of the Concordat), “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Link to the St. Alban’s website concerning the Shared Ministry Covenant: https://stalbanssalisbury.com/about/shared-ministry-covenant/