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Missionary Ecumenism: Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation and Lutherans

October 20th, 2016

by Fr. Harry Winter, OMI, Ministry of Mission, Unity, Dialogue (MUD), OMI USA Province
www.harrywinter.org

Fr.HarryWinterOMI

Rev. Harry E. Winter, O.M.I. Coordinator of Ministry of Mission, Unity and Dialogue

The upcoming visit of Pope Francis to Sweden, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, to celebrate the 499th anniversary of Luther posting his theses, trumpets the importance of both Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation (JPIC) and Missionary Ecumenism.  Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary put it this way:  “I’m carried by the profound conviction that by working towards reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics, we are working towards justice, peace and reconciliation in a world torn apart by conflict and violence.”

His Catholic partner, Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, added:  “Lutherans and Catholics will have the possibility of an ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation, not simply in a pragmatic way, but in the deep sense of faith in the crucified and resurrected Christ” (press release from both LWF and PCPCU, Jan. 25, 2016).

Experts such as Norman E. Thomas note “Today the LWF is the strongest in staff and program of the various world confessional bodies” (Missions and Unity, 2010, p. 122). Oblates of course work side by side with Lutherans in Germany, Scandinavia, and the USA, especially our mid-western states. But the Lutheran signers of the 2013 joint booklet From Conflict to Communion come also from Brazil, Japan and Tanzania.

I recommend highly this 93 pp. booklet, which may be read and downloaded on the OMI USA website on Mission-Unity-Dialogue (www.harrywinter.org).  The booklet was written to prepare for the Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2016 celebration. Chapters one, five and six are especially readable and relevant.

Many thanks to Archbishop Roger Schwietz, OMI, who when he was Bishop of Duluth, MN, made available to me the covenant he signed between the Diocese and  the Northeastern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  In it, the importance of JPIC and Missionary Ecumenism are clearly stated.  “We commit ourselves to:

  1. Confess to God and to each other our past and present prejudices against each other’s traditions, practices and beliefs, and allow God to forgive our sin against each other and God. (1 John 1:8-10)
  2. Acknowledge the importance of each other’s traditions, learn to appreciate the contributions of each confession to the mission and service work of the Church, and pray for the day when we celebrate the Eucharist as one community.
  1. Pray for one another in our worship, both public and private, as a sign of our unity in Christ, as God’s Holy Spirit leads us to a more open understanding of one another.
  1. Listen to the Holy Scriptures and together be instructed by them.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17) 
  1.  Strengthen our witness to Christ in our struggle for peace and justice.   (Micah 6:8;  Luke 4:18-21)  

A growing number of dioceses in the USA have similar covenants, some including Episcopalians (Anglicans) are called LARC Covenants (Lutheran, Anglican and Roman Catholic).

May every Christian involved in Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation (JPIC) pray for the success of the meeting in Sweden.  And may we sense the bonding between JPIC,  Mission-Unity-Dialogue, and Spirituality.

Read more: Acceptance of ‘Declaration’ is a Move Away From Conflict, Dr. Scott Woodward writes that the annual Prayer for Christian Unity will be heard all week in San Antonio.

Read more: Oblate School of Theology Leads Preparation for Pope’s Visit to Sweden, on OMIUSA.org

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