Bishops to jointly lead prayer service Wednesday

Bishop Steven Raica of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord and Bishop Craig Satterlee of the North/West Lower Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will jointly lead an ecumenical prayer service commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

The service will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 727 S. Second.

This will be a service of thanksgiving, repentance and a commitment to joint witness and service. Such a joint service was made possible by a service of common prayer held on Oct. 31, 2016, in the Lund Cathedral in Lund, Sweden, led by Pope Francis, Lutheran World Federation President Bishop Munib Younan and General Secretary Martin Junge.

That prayer service reflected the progress of 50 years of theological dialogue between Lutherans and Roman Catholics since the Second Vatican Council. The dialogue has been ongoing and is continuing and has fostered a mutual understanding, common ways of speaking about the Lutheran-Catholic history, and has brought about greater clarity regarding the differences yet remaining as well as a reinforced commitment to reconciling the unity in Christ that is shared.

The most significant milestone in this global effort to date was the signing of the Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification by the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999.

This document expressed a consensus between Roman Catholics and Lutherans that people are justified in God’s eyes and saved by Jesus Christ. JDDJ states that: “Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.”

That document then led to the LARC Covenant signed on June 18, 2000, in Gaylord by the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord, the bishop of the North/West Lower Michigan Synod of the ELCA, and the bishop of the Eastern Michigan Diocese of the Episcopal Church which, in turn, gave birth to the local LARC group here in Alpena.

The Congregational/UCC church joined the local LARC group at a later date, giving rise to the Alpena LARCC.