PHOTO: Bishop Peggy Johnson, Philadelphia Area of The United Methodist Church, and Bishop Claire Burkat, Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, co-celebrated communion at Lutheran Theological Seminary on March 24. Photo by John Kahler.
by Bishop Peggy Johnson, The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
I visited Lutheran Theological Seminary on Wed. March 24th for a Eucharistic Service. I had the privilege of co-celebrating communion with the area ELCA Lutheran Bishop, Claire Burkat. Since the UM Denomination and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America are now officially in full communion it was an especially special event. It is hard to imagine that United Methodists and Lutherans were NOT in full communion prior to the official votes by each denomination in 2008 (UMC) and 2009 (ELCA). The body and blood of Christ is not only our means of salvation but our uniting reality making us all "One" in Christ.
Sadly denominations have been separated through the years by the very things that should unite us. It is truly a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit when we come together after centuries of separation over human religious rules and beliefs.
The visit at Lutheran also gave evidence to the presence of the Holy Spirit as a very diverse group of worshipers were at the chapel service...persons of all ethnic groups, ages, genders, and abilities were engaging in the Word of God and prayer. There was spirited music as well as sign language interpreting that brought sound and sight together. I was particularly blessed by the large number of young adult students at the seminary....evidence to me that God is reaching out to a younger generation in new ways. There were young students from many denominations including United Methodists there. What a joy to imagine the future of the church that they will usher in long after my part of the journey is finished.
It is true that the Spirit unites, empowers diversity, and glorifies God....It is a God thing, not a human endeavor. It always has been. It always will be.
Group shot: (left to right) LTSP President Philip D.W. Krey, LTSP student Rosemarie Doucet, Bishop Peggy Johnson (Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, United Methodist Church), Bishop Claire Burkat (Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), LTSP Dean J. Paul Rajashekar, LTSP student Kellie Ebo.
Article used with permission from The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church, first posted May 10, 2010 at http://www.epaumc.org/news/stories/johnson-burkat