Joint Commission brings Lutheran, Reformed partners to Slovakia

01-04-2010 by

Geoff Ashmun
Professor Anna Case-Winters serves as co-chair

Dr. Anna-Case-Winters, Professor of Theology at McCormick Theological Seminary, will be traveling to Bratislava, Slovakia in late January to participate in what will be the penultimate meeting of the Joint Commission on Lutheran-Reformed Relations, an oversight group sponsored by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Lutheran World Federation. Case-Winters is one of two co-chairs of the Commission.

Charged with the task of “monitoring and advising upon” Lutheran and Reformed relations around the world, the group formerly began its work in 2006, meeting first in Utrecht, Netherlands, followed by gatherings in Windhoek, Namibia, Buenos Aires, and now Bratislava. Its task has been to learn about and support the regional Reformed-Lutheran relationships in each of these settings and to prepare a final report that will include formal recommendations as well as a paper exploring theological themes important for Reformed and Lutheran relations.

While Lutheran-Reformed relationships bear the marks of their particular context and resist generalizations, Case-Winters is encouraged by and has witnessed firsthand many examples of cooperation – and often in very dire circumstances. In Namibia, where the Lutheran church dwarfs its Reformed counterpart in size and resources, the scourge of HIV/AIDS, poverty and basic human need has necessitated a partnership that transcends theological differences.

"I have observed in many locations a desire to move beyond the controversies that have historically divided us,” she said. “There may not be full agreement over the mode of Christ’s presence at the Eucharist, but we are able to come together at the table and we are ready join hands in critical mission work.”

The Commission has not set a date for its final meeting, but completion of the final report is expected in 2010. Read more about the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Lutheran Federation.