Episcopalians, Lutherans, and United Methodists are invited to an "ELM" gathering, celebrating that these three denominations are each in some stage of full communion with one another. The date is Tuesday, February 22, 2011, at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, Tennessee. The Rev. Dr. Samuel Wells, Dean of the Chapel at Duke University, will be the speaker for the day. Wells is a priest and theologian of the Church of England and faculty member at Duke's historically United Methodist divinity school.
Among Dr. Wells's publications are: Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics; God’s Companions: Reimagining Christian Ethics; and Power and Passion: Six Characters is Search of Resurrection.
The day's activities begin with a morning "get acquainted" session from 9:00-10:30, followed by Dr. Well's address to a convocation of faculty and students at 11:00. The ELM group will reassemble for lunch and a second presentation by Dr. Wells, who will facilitate dialog and help participants think of ways to deepen fellowship in mutual ministry. The afternoon session will conclude by 3:00 PM. Cost for the event is the $7.00 cost of lunch in Tennessee Wesleyan's cafeteria.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The Episcopal Church (TWC) have been in full communion -- including mutual recognition and exchange of clergy and many jointly-sponsored initiatives -- since 1999. This relationship was preceeded by nearly twenty years of interim eucharistic sharing. The Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church (UMC) are currently in an interim eucharistic sharing relationship, looking toward a similar full communion agreement in the near future. The ELCA and UMC entered full communion in 2009. These relationships are predicated on decades of ecumenical dialog at local, national, and international levels. They do not seek to merge the communions or erase their distinctives, but to foster mutually enriching relationships in which as much theological, liturgical, and missional activity as possible can be shared.
Clergy and laity are invited to attend this first ELM gathering at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, Tenn. If interest is sufficient, a steering committee to plan future gatherings and activities may be organized.
To register for the event, or for further information, please contact Rev. William McDonald, College Chaplain and Associate Professor of Religion at Tennessee Wesleyan, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (423) 746-5283.