Together in Christ: Lutherans and Catholics Commemorating the Reformation

Catholics, Lutherans and other interested Christians are cordially invited to take part in Ecumenical Study Sessions to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. For those in the Winnipeg area, our bishops have made arrangements to join with us for five sessions of conversation, study and prayer to be held over five months at various Lutheran and Catholic churches in the city. The first session will be held on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at Lutheran Church of the Cross, 560 Arlington Street, Winnipeg. The evening will begin with a Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper at 6:00 p.m. followed by the Study Session. These Ecumenical Study Sessions touch on some of the events and theological questions surrounding the Reformation and advancements in reconciliation which have occurred over the past 50 years. Please see the Together in Christ poster for the full list of dates and venues for the five sessions being held in the Winnipeg area. For more information, you may contact any of the churches listed on the Together in Christ poster or the MNO Synod Office at 204-889-3760, email: mnosynod@elcic.ca, www.mnosynod.org

Click here for the schedule of monthly Together in Christ Winnipeg area sessions.

Designated Lutheran and Catholic parishes in rural areas of the province are making their own arrangements to host and gather for some or all of the five Ecumenical Study Sessions. Dates and venues for sessions outside of Winnipeg will be published as plans are finalized for these sessions.

A letter from Archbishop Richard Gagnon: A graced moment in Lund, Sweden

A graced moment in Lund, Sweden

The Swedish city of Lund, one of the oldest in the country, has been a centre of Christianity for more than 1,000 years. The impressive cathedral towering over the city is steeped in history. On October 31, 2016, the venerable walls of this church will witness a gathering of immense significance in the history of ecumenism. Pope Francis will visit Sweden with the singular purpose of going to the cathedral to join with leaders of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

The Lutheran World Federation President, Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan, and its General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Martin Junge, will participate with Pope Francis in leading a communal liturgy highlighting the fruits of Lutheran-Catholic dialogue that has been in progress for many years. This dialogue has initiated significant ecumenical advances in recent years. In 1999, The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was signed by the LWF and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; and in 2013, From Conflict to Communion –Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017 was published, marking a first attempt at the international level to describe together the history and the intention of the Reformation.

The event in Lund will serve as an opportunity for Catholics and Lutherans to commemorate together the Reformation through a symposium and using a liturgical service entitled “Common Prayer”– one of the fruits of the Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration document. The Lund meeting will be part of the reception process of this document and is meant to reverberate throughout the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church during 2017. In Canada, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada have formed a joint working group to develop a study guide for Lutherans and Catholics at the local level to commemorate the Reformation together in light of their common Baptism and the principles agreed to in the document. Commenting on the mutual commemoration, Pope Francis stated: “I believe that it is truly important for everyone to confront in dialogue the historical reality of the Reformation, its consequences and the responses it elicited.” In a similar way, Rev. Dr. Martin Junge said: “I am convinced that by working towards reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics, we are working towards justice, peace and reconciliation in a world torn apart by conflict and violence.”

Yes, it will be a moment of grace when Lutheran and Catholic leaders meet in Lund, and so it will be in Canada in 2017 as Lutherans and Catholics participate in this dialogue commemorating the Reformation.

Co-chairs to the Roman Catholic – Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada working group on the 500th Year Commemoration of the Reformation:

  • The Most Reverend Richard Gagnon, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Winnipeg
  • The Rev. Susan Johnson, National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

How will the 2017 Commemoration of the Reformation be experienced in the Archdiocese of Winnipeg and the Archdiocese of St. Boniface?

Above you will find a schedule of events in the City of Winnipeg. These events will be held at both Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran Churches in our city from February –June, 2017. As the year progresses, further events outside the City of Winnipeg will be added to the schedule. Both Lutheran and Catholic congregations are encouraged to attend these events together in each other’s churches as scheduled, however, Christians from other denominations will also be most welcome to participate and are encouraged to do so.

The five locations for the City of Winnipeg will each feature a different theme connected to the Commemoration of the Reformation based on the document: “From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran- Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017”. This document is the product of many years of Lutheran and Roman Catholic dialogue over the past fifty years as well as the important theological agreement outlined in: “The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification”, signed in 1999.

I wish to extend to all of you an invitation to participate in these ecumenical initiatives during 2017.

Yours in Christ,
Archbishop Richard Gagnon