Of particular interest to Egg readers may be Resolution A036, addressing relations with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It reads:
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 77th General Convention give thanks for the full communion agreement between The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2011; and be it further
Resolved, That the Church acknowledge that there exist areas of theological divergence that hinder the fullest degree of communion possible; and be it further
Resolved, That the Church commit itself to address those areas that hinder this relationship, including but not limited to the diaconate and lay presidency of the Eucharist; and be it further
Resolved, That the Church invite the ELCA to a new season of bilateral dialogue to discuss and address these matters; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $60,000 for the implementation of this resolution.
(An alternative text is a bit different, commending the work of the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee and asking it to "enjoin the areas of of our common life where our ecclesiological practices differ, including lay presidency and our understanding of the role of deacons." We're not quite sure the authors know what "enjoin" means.*)
Well. And here we thought that full communion was the "fullest degree of communion possible" between two distinct church bodies.
Needless to say, we are well aware that CCM, as finally approved, punted on a couple of questions, these among them. And, as it happens, we side with our Episcopalian friends on the matter of lay presidency, something that in a rightly-ordered world would be recognized as a contradiction in terms. As to "the" diaconate, well, they have two, transitional and vocational. For our part, we have so many that we've lost count (AIMs, diaconal ministers, synodical deacons, parish deacons, whatever other kind of deacons some well-intentioned Lone Ranger wants to invent and "consecrate"). It seems evident that some clear discussion would help both teams, ours rather more.
Still, some Lutherans are likely to be nonplussed reading this. "The authors," they will say, "have evidently never grasped the considerable price paid by the ELCA, then still a very new body, for its decision to join ranks with the Episcopal Church. We paid a deeply personal price, as friendships old and new were broken at the highest levels of our church; we paid an institutional price, as the internal dispute laid the groundwork for a future schism; and we paid a theological price, as we traded a permanent exemption from subscription to the Augustana in exchange for a temporary exemption from the Ordinal."
Well, let them say that, if they like. We certainly won't contradict anybody. Others will murmur darkly about deck chairs on the Titanic, or the Ottoman Empire waving its arms at Austro-Hungary, circa 1914. Again, no objection.
For our part, though, we are simply tickled that the Episcopal Church thinks relations with the ELCA are worth $60,000. We doubt that, at this point in the history of either ecumenism or stewardship, the feeling is reciprocated.
[UPDATE: Here's a convention delegate's blog post describing ELCA PB Hanson's remarks, as well as the subsequent amendment and vote on the resolution. It's all a bit vague, but we gather things could have been worse.]
* "To enjoin," which in modern English has become one more showy legalism, means either (1) to direct with authority, or command, as when the attendance of the faculty is enjoined by the trustees; or else it means (2) to prohibit or forbid. We assume they are trying to express the latter sense, but -- as a matter of good usage -- enjoin requires a preposition, as in "the judge enjoined him from seeing his children." (See, for example, Brian Garner's Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage.) Speaking of "areas of common life," it would have been far better to have written "inhibit" or, best of all, "separate" or "disentangle."