National Bishop Susan C. Johnson

Rev Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, writes a regular column for each issue of Canada Lutheran.

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National Bishop's Turn

Lutheran Among Anglicans

The much anticipated Lambeth Conference offered wonderful ideas for strengthening relationships with our full communion partners and encouraging our own ministry.

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! I'm writing to you from Canterbury, England, where I've had the incredible honour of attending the Lambeth Conference, the worldwide meeting of Anglican bishops. I am overwhelmed by the many images and stories whirling in my head. I've worshipped in Canterbury Cathedral, had tea at Buckingham Palace, and shared a meal with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

All of these have been wonderful experiences, but what will stay with me the longest is the opportunity I've had to strengthen relationships with our full communion partner, the Anglican Church of Canada. The Canadian bishops, spouses, and staff have made me feel so much at home, I keep thinking I'm at a Lutheran gathering and find myself looking around to spot some of you! I've also had the chance to hear stories about the partnerships that Lutherans and Anglicans have in other parts of the world and have new ideas for how we might continue to build our relationship in Canada.

The other thing I will take away is the strong commitment I've seen evidenced to mission and justice. One of the plenary speakers was American author Pastor Brian McLaren, who challenged the communion concerning its approach to evangelism as we move into an increasingly postmodern world. Dr. McLaren reminded us that our call is to form disciples for Jesus Christ, and not just for the sake of the church. He urged us to consider that we need to be ready for a season of unlearning and relearning as we try to disentangle the church from the way it has become enculturated in the modern world. And, he encouraged us to remember our responsibility to respond to more than just the voices inside the church. It's going to take me a long time to reflect on his presentation and think of how it might apply to the ELCIC, but I appreciated the way he encouraged churches to think about our mission and future.

Together, conference members joined in a Walk of Witness, marching through downtown London to pressure governments to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empowering women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV-AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; and ensuring environmental sustainability. This event was part of a wider ecumenical project—the Micah Challenge—calling us to work together to do justice and walk humbly with our God, both through our own ministry of compassionate justice and by holding national and global leaders responsible for securing a more just and merciful world.

Throughout this week, I have been reminded again and again of the similarities in the way our church is striving to be In Mission for Others through Effective Partnerships, Diverse Faces, Compassionate Justice, Focused Framework, and Spirited Discipleship. May God continue to bless our full communion relationship and the example of the worldwide Anglican Communion as we continue on this journey of faith together.

Bishop Susan C. Johnson

Canada Lutheran, September 2008