Called to Common Mission
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (June 2009)|
Called to Common Mission is an agreement between The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), establishing full communion between them. It was ratified by the ELCA in 1999, the ECUSA in 2000, after the narrow failure of a previous agreement. Its principal author on the Episcopal side was the Rev. Canon J. Robert Wright. Under the agreement, they recognize the validity of each other's baptisms and ordinations. The agreement provided that the ELCA would accept the historical episcopate, something which became controversial in the ELCA. In response to concerns about the meaning of CCM, bishops in the ELCA drafted Tucson Resolution, which presented the official ELCA position.
Some within the ELCA argued that requiring the historic episcopate would contradict the traditional Lutheran doctrine that the church exists wherever the Word is preached and Sacraments are practiced. Others objected on the grounds that adopting the Episcopalian priesthood and hierarchical structure was contrary to the Lutheran concept of the priesthood of all believers, which holds that all Christians stand on equal footing before God. They argued that the Old Covenant required a priest to mediate between God and humanity, but that New Covenant explicitly abolishes the need for priestly role by making every Christian a priest with direct access to God's grace. Still others objected because of the implied directive that lay presidency would be abolished. This was a particularly issue for rural congregations that periodically "called" a congregation member to conduct communion services in the absence of ordained clergy.