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Dear friends,

Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We find ourselves in the midst of the season of Lent, journeying towards Holy Week and the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord. Easter will land on March 31st this year, a little earlier than what seems usual; but not the earliest possible date, which is March 22nd.

As we have journeyed through this Lenten season we have been meeting with friends from ourecumenical partner churches on Wednesday evenings for food, fellowship, prayer, music, and conversation. And, as I typed this, it dawned on me that many of you may not know what ourecumenical partnerships are, how long they have been around, or what the word ecumenicaleven means. So, let’s talk about that!

The word ecumenical itself means, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, “encouraging the different Christian Churches to unite”. Essentially, it’s just a fancy word meaning that different Christian church bodies are working together on something. You can have an ecumenical service, an ecumenical mission, an ecumenical dialogue, etc.

Our national church body, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), does a lot of ecumenical work with a lot of other Christian Church Bodies. But, some of these ecumenical partnerships go one step further and become Full Communion Partners. Meaning that, because we hold enough common beliefs about the Lord’s Supper, ELCA Pastors can preside over communion in their churches, and their Pastors can preside over communion in our churches.
Those full communion partner church bodies are: The Episcopal Church, The United Methodist Church, The Presbyterian Church USA, The United Church of Christ, The Moravian Church, and The Reformed Church in America.

Now, with that information, you can begin to gather how our local ecumenical partnerships began. I first encountered our ecumenical Lenten gatherings in 2009, when I was serving Grace Village which was then known as the Lutheran Center. But, based on conversations with Rodelyn and Pastor Tracy, who used to serve at Holy Trinity, these midweek gatherings between the Lutherans and the Episcopalians have been occurring since the early 1990’s.

These midweek gatherings would continue to be Lutheran and Episcopal until 2021, when our new mission partners in the campus ministry, the Presbyterians and the Methodists would start joining us for Lent. And then, in 2023, our friends from Hazelwood Christian Church started joining us, they’re part of the Disciples of Christ tradition.

I give thanks to God for these ecumenical partnerships and our ability to participate with them and to walk alongside them in this journey of discipleship throughout the entire year, not just Lent. It’s amazing what God can do to, and through, us when we lay our differences aside and realize we have far more things in common as followers of Jesus. And, I pray that God will continue to show us more opportunities to worship and serve alongside our Christian siblings in town so that we can work together to grow God’s kingdom in Muncie as it is in Heaven.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Robert