More than 40 Lutheran, Anglican and Moravian ministers, from central and southern Alberta, gathered for a day in March, at Camp Van Es near Sherwood Park, for a time of prayer, learning, conversation and friendship.
The joint clergy day, organised by the Rev. Canon Dr. Scott Sharman, ecumenical and interfaith coordinator for the Edmonton diocese, was an opportunity for the churches to grow together in partnership and collaboration."
“Each of our churches has its areas of strength and areas of weakness, passions and challenges, and, therefore, we can all be stronger when we find ways to walk together,” says Sharman.
“When we speak of full communion, we are talking not only of the stuff of doctrinal agreements, mutual recognitions of rites and offices, and polity adjustments. Rather, it is more importantly about real people and real communities taking the risk, moment by moment and day by day, to be in relationship with those whose ways are not the same as our own, and honouring them just as they are.”
Sharman facilitated a panel discussion with the Rev. Paul Gehrs, Assistant to the ELCIC National Bishop for Justice, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations; Lutheran Bishop Larry Kochendorfer, Alberta/Territories Synod; Anglican Bishop Stephen London, Diocese of Edmonton; Moravian Church Pastor James Lavoy, Rio Terrace, Edmonton.
“It was a very encouraging day building on relationships, learning more about our respective traditions, and imagining new possibilities for partnerships and sharing in ministry and mission,” he says. Participants were invited to share what they perceive to be opportunities for churches to work together. Developing resources, providing education, engaging in social justice initiatives, adapting to climate change, offering summer camps and worshipping together, were some of the ideas they shared on brightly-coloured Post-It notes.
The Edmonton diocese is in partnership with other churches to encourage, develop and support various models for and expressions of shared ministry. The parish of Holy Trinity, Edson is the unification of Anglican (St. Catherine’s) and Lutheran (Grace) parishes which together are better able to meet spiritual needs and offer ministry in the community of Edson in the western region of the diocese.
In two communities south of Edmonton, the Rev. Trina Holmberg, a Moravian minister, is both rector of St. Andrew’s, Camrose; and St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Ponoka.
East of the city, toward the Saskatchewan border, the three rural churches of St. Mary’s, Edgerton; St. Thomas’, Wainwright; and St. Saviour’s, Vermilion share one rector, the Ven. Rachael Parker, Archdeacon for Rural Ministry, and serve their communities under the umbrella of Dayspring Ministries.
More recently, Sharman has facilitated conversations between Anglican and United churches in Jasper. He hopes the joint gathering of clergy and ministry leaders will strengthen the foundation for doing more things in common in the years ahead. “At our best, it is in this kind of receptivity and vulnerability that we are able to touch on something at the heart of God,” he says.
Photos by Stephanie London and Scott Sharman