Delegates to the Episcopal General Convention in New Orleans this week reciprocated the earlier votes of three Lutheran churches authorizing joint celebrations of Holy Communion between the two historic branches of Protestantism.
At separate conventions last week, the Lutheran Church in America, the American Lutheran Church and the American Evangelical Lutheran Church voted overwhelming approval of sharing the central sacrament of Christian life.
While the intercommunion resolution was the only identical one formally on the agendas of the Episcopal and Lutheran conventions, the churches ended up expressing similar concerns on social issues ranging from nuclear proliferation to military spending to racial segregation: Episcopal Church
The convention approved a resolution calling for an immediate nuclear freeze by the superpowers and reduction by half in their existing nuclear arsenals. The action came only a few days after Vice President George Bush, an Episcopalian, spoke against a nuclear freeze in his address to the convention.
Delegates also called for moving budget priorities away from increased military spending and restoring services to the needy, noting, in their resolution, that "increased military spending is inseparably linked with impoverishment of the poor and oppressed."
In their closing session, Episcopal bishops issued a strong pastoral letter to be distributed to all Episcopal congregations, denouncing the nuclear arms race and urging people worldwide to work for disarmament.
They urged the United States to take the lead in nuclear disarmament, instead of continuing the arms race. They renewed a pledge made a year ago to personally fast for peace one day a week and pray daily for peace.
Responding to the current controversy over how public schools should teach about the beginning of the world, the convention denounced the "limited insight and rigid dogmatism of the creationist movement." It affirmed support for "the scientists, educators and theologians in the search for truth in this creation that God has entrusted to us."
A position paper on ethical problems arising from modern technology approved in-vitro fertilization -- so-called test-tube babies -- for childless couples. The church left open to further study the question of the use of surrogate mothers, in which a man's sperm is used to impregnate a woman not his wife who agrees to surrender the child at birth. Lutheran in America
The convention in Louisville endorsed a "multilateral, verifiable freeze of the testing, production, stockpiling and deployment of nuclear weapons and delivery systems as a step toward the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons."
The LCA convention also asked that young men registering for the draft be allowed to indicate conscientious objector status, and committed itself to a program of education on peace issues. American Lutheran
Meeting in San Diego, delegates reaffirmed a policy voted in 1980 to sell stock in companies doing business in South Africa to fight racial segregation.
They also continued the church's policy of nonalignment with the National Council of Churches, pushing instead for a "wider grouping" of American Christendom.
"We would like to see, over a period of years, the development of a much more comprehensive American Christian council that would include Roman Catholics, Southern Baptist, Pentecostals, conservative evangelicals, as well as members of the National Council of Churches," said the ALC president, the Rev. Dr. David Preus.
The convention elected a Minneapolis lawyer, Kathryn E. Baerwald, as general secretary, the highest office ever held by a woman in the Midwest-based church.