Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities Pray and Work Together
By Harry E. Winter, OMI
Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, MN hosted Archbishop Bernard Hebda, RC Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minnesota; Bishop Patricia Lull, St. Paul Area Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and Bishop Ann Svennungsen, Minneapolis Area Synod, Evangelical Church in America, on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017 for Evening Prayer to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Over 600 people attended, making this one of the largest ecumenical services ever held in the Twin Cities.
The Fifth Imperative from the Lutheran-RC statement “From Conflict to Communion,” was read jointly by Tim Marx, President of Catholic Charities, and Jodi Harpstead, CEO of Lutheran Social Services: “Catholics and Lutherans should witness together to the mercy of God in proclamation and service to the world.” The collection taken up during the service was pledged for homeless ministry, to be divided equally between the two organizations. (For the four other Imperatives, see the website Mission-Unity-Dialogue: www.harrywinter.org).
Partly because of the participation of the 100 member plus Minnesota Boys choir (many teenagers among them), the congregation included young people and families as well as seniors. At the beginning of the service, water was blessed and we were sprinkled, to remind Lutherans and Catholics of our shared baptism. During the service, candles were lighted from the large Evening Prayer Candle for each of the Five Imperatives, and then each of us lighted our small candle from it. We then listened to an adaptation of the Easter Exultet. Incense was used for one of the sung psalms, so we experienced worship both physical and spiritual.
Each of us felt the deep blending of spirituality, ecumenism and justice.