Connecting with the Lutherans

My friend, Jackie, and I have a lot in common. We both moved from the Midwest to New York. We both married New Yorkers and started raising a family in the same part of the Bronx. Our children have attended the same public schools. We share similar interests, have the same political viewpoints and our families often spend the New Year’s holidays together.

Now, we have something else in common. Jackie is an active member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which voted Aug. 20 at its churchwide assembly in Minneapolis to enter into “full communion with The United Methodist Church. Our church approved the same agreement last year.

One of the distinct features of United Methodism is its connectional system. That connection has just officially expanded. Partnerships between United Methodists and Lutherans have existed in the past, but the potential of this new relationship – exchanging pastors, working more closely together on specific social programs, delving deeper into theological questions – is just beginning.

At the end of May, I went to a Sunday service at Jackie’s church – a small congregation that worships in the chapel of the Seafarers & International House in Manhattan – to witness her daughter’s confirmation. While there were some obvious differences, most notably the singing of some parts of the service in a cantor-like fashion, I felt comfortable there.

I hope Jackie will feel the same way in any United Methodist church.

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