Photo credit Mark Beach (photographer) and the World Council of Churches
A Covenant among the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Northwest Lower Michigan Synod, the Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord
It is the will of our Lord Jesus that all his disciples be one. Encouraged by the international, national and regional dialogues among Lutherans, Anglicans, and Roman Catholics, we celebrate the faithful initiative of our church leaders, past and present, in fostering church unity. Recognizing the desire for the eventual union of Lutheran, Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, we the Bishops and the people of the above named Synod and Dioceses make this joint affirmation and solemn covenant.
Together, we affirm that:
- Our unity as God’s Holy People is a gift which Christ gives to all who, in faith and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, seek to live according to the will of the Father.
- Created in God’s image and likeness, we are all recreated in the Body of Christ.
- Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Lord of the world, and the living center of our faith.
- Jesus’ desire for the unity of his followers is a call to all Christians to work for unity in the Church.
- The diversity of gifts in our churches is a blessing from God, intended to enrich a wider and fuller communion.
- The Holy Spirit empowers us to overcome all obstacles that still exist in doctrine, sacramental life, ecclesial structures and moral living so that the full unity of God’s Church might be realized.
- Baptism is central as the sacrament that binds together all Christians as the People of God and followers of the Christ and destines us to the Eucharistic Table which is the foretaste of the Eternal Kingdom.
We, therefore, call upon the People of God in our respective Dioceses and Synod to join in the covenant of mutual sharing as a sign of our recognition of Christ’s will for us.
To that end, we pledge that we will:
- Pray regularly for one another and for the unity of the whole Church, especially at Sunday liturgies, looking forward to the day when we will share the one body of Christ in the Eucharist.
- Join in prayer services on special occasions such as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Feast of Pentecost, and Thanksgiving.
- Strongly encourage the parishes of our Dioceses and Synod to enter into covenant relationships with one another, seeking suitable occasions for common prayer, worship, dialogue, education, fellowship and common service.
- Respect the dignity and diversity of human life.
- Provide occasions for open and frank discussion on non-doctrinal issues which divide or appear to divide us.
- Promote effective stewardship and maximum use of resources through encouraging the sharing of, as far as is feasible, our facilities, worship and educational resources, contract services, programs sponsored by our congregations, and the expertise of both clergy and laity.
- Actively pursue continued dialogue among us and provide opportunities for sharing our various traditions and, in particular, for studying those documents produced through our dialogues at the national and international levels.
- Place no impediment in the way of unity, and strive for the removal of any existing obstacles to unity, while mutually supporting and preserving our respective traditions, according to the mandates of the Gospel.
- Work together for justice and for the common good through Christian witness and in areas such as education, social welfare, world peace, social justice, employment, stewardship of creation, housing, environmental preservation, anti-racism, strengthening of family life, multi-cultural acceptance – barrier free parish facilities.
- Promote the joint work of our ecumenical leadership, review the goals and achievements of this covenant each year, and explore new avenues of cooperation and continued growth in unity.
- Renew this pledge each year publicly, as a sign of our continued commitment to unity, and encourage recognition of the covenant renewal in our congregations.
We ask the blessing of God in this covenant, that we might be faithful to it, to the honor and glory of God. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Signed at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Gaylord, Michigan, June 18, 2000