United Methodists and Evangelical Lutherans clasp hands

Two Rockford

Two Rockford community denominations extend "the hands of fellowship" to one another. One on the left is the Jerusalem Cross, the traditional symbol of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. On the right is the iconic flame-and-cross emblem of the United Methodist Church.

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL

On Saturday evening, Jan. 23, there will be a very special worship and holy communion service for the Rockford community. Here’s how it came about:

In the spring of 2008, at the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, and this past August 2009, at the Church-Wide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, dialogue was finalized which allowed the two different denominations to participate in full communion with one another.

Delegates to the 4.7 million member 2009 Evangelical Lutheran Church and delegates to the eight million member 2008 United Methodist Church supported this historic agreement, which ended centuries of seeing and focusing upon their differences instead of seeing and focusing upon their commonalities.

“Full communion” means that each denomination now acknowledges the other “as partners” in the Christian faith, where they recognize the authenticity of each other’s baptisms and sacrament of holy communion. By doing so, the two denominations agree to support each other’s respective ministries and will work together toward greater unity under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

To celebrate this historic agreement and the implications of sharing in full communion with each other, four Rockford area churches—Hope Community Lutheran Church, Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church, White Pines United Methodist Church, and the Rockford United Methodist Church—are holding a combined worship service.

In order to accommodate what is hoped to be a large gathering, this special worship and communion service will be held at the Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA in Belmont, on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 6:30 p.m.

This significant gathering is open to anyone in the Rockford community, regardless of religious affiliation. If you’ve been searching for a church home or are new to the area, what better way to begin your journey?

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