The Aug. 20 front-page report on the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's vote on full communion with the Episcopal Church implied that what was voted on was "union," as though the two churches were merging. This is not the case.
The Lutheran Church has now also voted for "full communion" with the Presbyterian Church, the Reformed Church, the United Church of Christ and the Moravian Church. In each case, the vote brings with it a mutual recognition of each other's sacraments, the capacity for sharing ordained pastors and a greater institutional call to work together. This is not an institutional merger between the two churches.
The article also identified the first Lutherans to arrive in this country as "hardscrabble Norwegian immigrant farmers." Many American Lutherans also are descended from German as well as Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Slovakian and Estonian ancestors.
The article further said that Lutherans have "a relatively informal ordination." This is not true; it has long been the case that a bishop ordains a pastor. What is new is that bishops, when they are set aside in their post, now will receive a blessing from another bishop who is in the direct line of blessings back to the Apostle Peter. This has always been the case in the Lutheran Church in Sweden and Denmark; the break came in Germany.