Members of St. John’s and Sacred Heart Catholic Church gathered in conversation and fellowship on Nov. 14. The event was part one of a three-part series titled “Striving Toward Unity: A Lutheran-Catholic Reflection on Past, Present, and Potential for the Future.”
Pastor Rhodes Woolly and Father John Eckert hosted the event in the Faith Center. Dr. Gary Freeze, Catawba College history professor, presented a history of Catholic and Lutheran immigration and formation in the Piedmont.
“This is such a great thing,” commented Liz Tenant, a member of Sacred Heart. “I can’t wait for the next gathering.”
Part Two will be held at Sacred Heart on Dec. 5. The focus will be on present realities, addressing common concerns, struggles, hopes and dreams for our congregations and community.
Participants will be introduced to a new document signed by Pope Francis and the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, “From Conflict to Communion.” The document includes 34 areas of agreement and “Five Imperatives” for establishing a greater sense of unity.
A highlight of the evening will be a Q and A panel conversation with religion professors from Lenoir-Rhyne and Belmont Abbey.
Bishop Smith Comments on Dialogue
By Susan Shinn Turner
In his travels across the state and across the country, NC Synod Bishop Tim Smith is heartened by the emerging relationship between Lutherans and Catholics.
Locally, St. John’s and Sacred Heart began a Lutheran-Catholic dialogue Nov. 14, which continues Dec. 5 and Jan. 9.
Two things helped encourage the conversation between the two denominations, Smith says — the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and the fact that Pope Francis worshipped in a Lutheran cathedral in Lund, Sweden, last October for the start of the year-long commemoration of the anniversary. He directed bishops and cardinals to reach out to their Lutheran counterparts to take part in the observation, as well.
In response, Bishop Peter Jugis of the Charlotte Diocese attended the NC and SC Synods Reformation service in Charlotte on Sept. 23, bringing greetings from Pope Francis. And Smith attended the installation of The Rt. Rev. Luis Zarama, new bishop of the Raleigh Diocese. Together they helped to lead a joint service in Chapel Hill at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in October, during which a prayer was said to move toward celebrating Eucharist together.
“If we’re going to talk about being church,” Smith says, “we need to talk about our similarities, not differences.”