In the next week, the Montana Synod will sponsor two events that will help us focus on the legacy of the Reformation, and respond to challenges for Christian living in the future. Although there are any number of possible foci when it comes to the Reformation, we are going to focus on our relationship with Catholics. After all, the Reformation began with a split with the Catholic Church. It is only appropriate that we should approach the second 500 years with efforts to understand Nd overcome that split in the Body of Christ.
The first event is the Convocation Friday the 27th in Lewistown. The Convocation is an annual event in the fall, organized by the Bishop for rostered leaders (pastors and deacons), with some participation of LPAs and others. This year we are sponsoring it jointly with the Diocese of Great Falls/Billings. Fourteen presenters (half Lutheran, half Catholic) will address issues that have divided us and issues that can unite us. The presentations will include the “Five Ecumenical Imperatives” proposed by the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity, in anticipation of the 500th Anniversary.
1. Catholics and Lutherans should always begin from the perspective of unity, and not from the point of view of division, in order to strengthen what is held in common, even though the differences are more easily seen and experienced.
2. Lutherans and Catholics must let themselves continuously be transformed by the encounter with the other and by the mutual witness of faith.
3. Catholics and Lutherans should again commit themselves to seek visible u it's, to elaborate together what this means in concrete steps, and to strive repeatedly toward this goal.
4. Lutherans and Catholics should jointly rediscover the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ for our time.
5. Catholics and Lutherans should witness together to the mercy of God in proclamation and service to the world.
The second event is an Ecumenical Vespers at the Helena Cathedral on Monday, October 30 at 7 pm. You are invited. The service is based on a service put together by the Commission on Unity, and will be led by Catholic Bishops George Thomas and Michael Warfel, and Lutheran Bishops Jessica Crist and (retired) Mark Ramseth. A number of lay people will be involved as well, including Synod Vice President Tom Gossack, and Synod Treasurer Sue Ost.
Lutherans and Catholics are invited to this church ecumenical service, to share God’s love, and to make a witness for Christian unity.I hope to see you at one or both of these events!
Jessica Crist, Bishop
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Bishop Jessica Crist
Bishop of the Montana Synod of the ELCA