Words from the Bishop—“Called together by God to pray together as one, be present in our state’s broken places, and to walk in the freedom and openness of the Holy Spirit”
We are in the midst of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This annual celebration of Christian ecumenism starts each year on January 18, (the Confession of St. Peter), and ends on January 25, (the Conversion of St. Paul.) In many communities congregations of different denominations have special joint services of worship, to show solidarity in Christ.
Seeking unity with other Christians is essential to who we are as Lutherans. One of our Synod benchmarks is “Promote Unity.” We cherish our unique Lutheran heritage and emphases. But we also seek common ground with others who follow Christ. As a denomination, the ELCA has full communion agreements with 6 other churches—The Presbyterian Church USA, the United Church of Christ, the Reformed Church in America, The Moravians, The Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church. And we have significant agreements and conversations with other groups, including AME Zion and Roman Catholic, as well as Orthodox.
In the Montana Synod we work together ecumenically with the Wyoming Association of Churches and the Montana Association of Christians (formerly Montana Association of Churches.) Both organizations are made up of a majority of mainline Protestant denominations, and both are working on state legislative agendas during the legislative sessions. MAC has recently re-organized, and now welcomes not only denominations, but also congregations and individuals as members. You can find a link to our website, where you will find both an invitation to join and a congregational membership covenant. I encourage you to consider congregational and individual membership in MAC.
And Monday, January 26 will be MAC Day at the Legislature. You can find information on our website as well. We’ll begin at St. John’s Lutheran Church, at 8:30 AM with prayer, and move to the Capitol. This is a good way to thank our legislators for their service, and to let them know what we, as Christians, are working on together. MAC does not take on every issue—just the ones we share across our denominations. This year’s issues are: abolition of the death penalty and replacing it with life imprisonment without parole; well-being of children; care for immigrants; returning prisoners to society.
Another of our Synod benchmarks is: “Serve the world, especially the poor and those in need.” Through MAC and WAC we attempt to do just that. As Christians we believe that God loved the world, the whole world. And we are called to love the world, too. As Christians working together, we can show God’s love to a world in great need.
Bishop Jessica Crist
Bishop Jessica Crist
Bishop of the Montana Synod of the ELCA