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From liturgies to ordination and now office space, local Lutherans, Anglicans team up

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Rev. Larry Ulrich, assistant to Evangelical Lutheran Bishop Elaine Sauer, with Anglican Centre executive assistant Susan Suppes.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Rev. Larry Ulrich, assistant to Evangelical Lutheran Bishop Elaine Sauer, with Anglican Centre executive assistant Susan Suppes. Photo Store

With the help of some renovations and a moving truck, local Anglicans and Lutherans are living out the concept of full communion.

Five staff members from the Manitoba/Northwestern Ontario Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada packed up their Charleswood-area office late last month and moved into the Fort Garry offices of the Anglican Diocese of Rupert's Land.

"I think (the move) came at exactly the right time because the MNO Synod was looking at decreasing costs and we were looking at shared space," explains Anglican Bishop Donald Phillips.

He says the two-storey Anglican Centre had vacant space because of previous staff reductions in the diocese office. Seven diocesan employees, including the bishop, work out of the building at 935 Nesbitt Bay.

"This (location) was the primary option, not because we wanted to move, but because we wanted to live out the Waterloo Declaration and model that for our parishes and congregations," explains Rev. Larry Ulrich, assistant to Bishop Elaine Sauer, currently on an extended leave.

The Waterloo Declaration, signed in 2001, established a full-communion relationship between the Anglicans and Lutherans that involves sharing liturgies, the Eucharist and ordination. Ordained clergy can serve in either tradition.

This move marks the first time the synodical and diocesan staffs from the two denominations are working under the same roof, says Trina Gallop, communications director for the national ELCIC office.

The Lutherans and Anglicans split the $250,000 bill for renovations, which included constructing new offices and workstations in the upper level and installing wireless-internet service. Installation of an elevator is still in progress. The two denominations will share the existing lower-level lunchroom, boardrooms and chapel.

"We try to avoid terms like tenant or renter, because we see this as a partnership," Phillips says of the new arrangement.

"We as Lutherans are invading their space, but there was that hospitality" to us, adds Ulrich.

The sign on the building will also reflect the new reality -- no longer will the former parish hall of St. John the Baptist Anglican Church be known solely as the Anglican Centre.

"The suggestion was we do a contest in renaming the building," says Phillips.

Occupying the same building could also lead to more joint events and programs, and perhaps even sharing some support staff, says Ulrich.

"It's just a whole lot easier doing that when you're in the same space," he says.

"The theological differences are not so great that we can't share events," adds Phillips.

The two denominations already share some events, including a biennial youth assembly. This week, the national Anglican and Lutheran bodies are meeting in Ottawa in their first-ever joint assembly.

But will the Winnipeg building now occupied by Anglicans and Lutherans ever house only one bishop?

Phillips doesn't have a definitive answer for that question, but says the bishops may cover for each other occasionally.

"I could see a situation where I'd feel comfortable asking Bishop Elaine (Sauer) to do some episcopal function for me," he says.

brenda@suderman.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2013 D15

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Updated on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 4:18 PM CDT: Added colour photo, fixed headline.

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