Most of us know that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to be in full communion with the United Methodist Church. At General Conference in 2008 we also made this historic step. Among other things this means that ELCA pastors can serve UM churches and vice versa. I have had conversations with Bishop Michael Keyes of the ELCA in Alaska about just such a possibility. We also are planning a large celebration most likely in January in Anchorage that will include the Presbyterian Church and Episcopal Churches.
I am grateful to be in this position at this time to have a part in working with the other denominational executives. Dr. Curt Karns of the Yukon Presbytery is an old friend and former pastor of our New Hope Church in North Pole. Dr. David Dobler of the Southeast Presbytery is a former pastor of our Jewel Lake Parish. Fran Lynch’s long ministry in Anvik is the site of the first Episcopal Church in Alaska back in the 1800’s.
Some of our dreams include joining together to train lay leaders for our native villages. Charley Brower of St. John UMC and Fawn White of Nome Community UMC are in Barrow this week for the training for Commissioned Lay Pastors of the Presbyterian Church. I have asked our Professional Ministries Unit to work on the certification requirements so our conference can raise up our own Certified Lay Ministers.
Other big, hairy, bodacious dreams include having our annual gatherings at the same time in the same venue with separate plenary sessions. We could share meals, celebrations, and training. I felt it was important for you all to know about these exciting developments. I encourage our lay and clergy leaders to consider strengthening the ecumenical ties in your community. At the January celebration we would love to display photos showing ecumenical events. Please send a few to me.
One other note. Soon we will be able to post every issue of the E-Aurora on our AUMC web site. Until then pastors may want to forward this to your congregation. Our hope is to make this broad enough to appeal to all Alaska United Methodists.
Grace and peace,