On Holy Tuesday, March 30, Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City, Missouri, hosted an interdenominational service to renew baptismal and ordination vows and to bless holy oils. Representing three dioceses of The Episcopal Church were bishops Cathleen Bascom, Bishop of Kansas; Deon Johnson, Bishop of Missouri; and Martin Field, Bishop of West Missouri. They were joined by Susan Candea, Bishop of ELCA’s Central States Synod. The Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas took part remotely, with Bishop Mark Cowell, Bishop of Western Kansas, sharing a pre-recorded greeting.
The four Episcopal Dioceses cover Kansas and Missouri, with two dioceses in each state. The Central States Synod is the ELCA judicatory for the entirety of the two states. Over recent years, a robust and growing working relationship has been forged among the bishops, which in turn is opening doors for the four dioceses and the synod to engage in collaborative efforts. This has resulted in a collaboration in training Episcopal priests and deacons and Lutheran Pastoral Ministry Associates for the many small-town, rural, and suburban churches in Kansas and Missouri. Bishop Field summed this development up, “For the last ten years, I’ve been blessed with colleagues in leadership who have also become close friends. Bishops come and go in both denominations, as is normal, but we believe we’re building and passing on these friendships plus common values and vision for the work of the Gospel that we share.”
The Holy Tuesday service weaved together elements of Episcopal and Lutheran liturgies. It included contributions from a small cadre of clergy and laypersons in attendance and featuring beautiful music provided by the cathedral’s Trinity Choir. The service was streamed live online to allow the participation of lay and clerical members of the participating synod and dioceses, and many took part from wherever they were throughout Missouri or Kansas. Several cohorts of lay and clergy gathered in homes or churches; of note was a gathering at Christ Cathedral in Salina, KS, the cathedral church for the Diocese of Western Kansas, where participants renewed their promises and vows together.
Bishop Field served as the host Bishop, Bishop Candea delivered the homily, Bishop Bascom led the Renewal of Baptismal Promises, and Bishop Deon Johnson presided at the Holy Eucharist. And all four bishops jointly led the Renewal of Ordination Vows for the clergy of both denominations. Following Holy Communion, the bishops gathered at the altar to consecrate Holy Chrism and to bless the Oil of the Sick and the Oil of Catechumens. Their movements around the altar drew the notice of one online participant who described it as “musical bishops.”
After the well-received service, the bishops agreed that joint services such as this help build momentum for collaborative ministry and will be repeated. Bishop Candea stated, “This service seemed historic, one that has not been shared between Lutherans and Episcopalians before. I am pleased that we could renew our core commitments as lay and clergy members of Christ’s body together. This shows our growing commitment to walking together in Christ’s service”.
- A recording of the service can be seen here.
- Photographs of the service can be viewed and downloaded from here.