The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is holding its Churchwide Assembly in Columbus, Ohio, this week under the theme “Embody the Word.” The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is scheduled to bring greetings on Thursday.

The gathering will also take time to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Formula of Agreement. In 1997, the ELCA, the PC(USA), the Reformed Church in America and the United Church of Christ entered into the agreement stating that they are in “full communion,” which includes: 

  • Recognizing each other as churches in which the gospel is rightly preached
    and the sacraments rightly administered according to the Word of God
  • Withdrawing any historic condemnation by one side or the other as
    inappropriate for the life and faith of our churches today
  • Continuing to recognize each other’s baptism and authorize and encourage
    the sharing of the Lord’s Supper among their members
  • Recognizing each other’s various ministries and making provision for the
    orderly exchange of ordained ministers of Word and Sacrament
  • Establishing appropriate channels of consultation and decision-making within
    the existing structures of the churches
  • Committing themselves to an ongoing process of theological dialogue in order
    to clarify further the common understanding of the faith and foster its
    common expression in evangelism, witness and service
  • Pledging themselves to living together under the Gospel in such a way that
    the principle of mutual affirmation and admonition becomes the basis of a
    trusting relationship in which respect and love for the other will have a chance to grow.

“These years of faithful partnerships have created opportunities for our congregations and leaders to seek other ways to support our common work for the kin-dom. The possibilities are there for collaboration in education, mission and ministry, outreach and evangelism, justice and peace,” said Dr. Dianna Wright, director of Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations with the Office of the General Assembly. “We are available to provide support in your efforts to create or deepen your work with our Formula of Agreement and other ecumenical partners.”

Leadership from each denomination produced a joint video that was shown during the 225th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and it is scheduled to be shown this week at the Columbus meeting.