Rev. Ingrid Dorschel

Rev. Ingrid Dorschel

April 4, 2016

The lack of Christian unity is one of the strongest motives for people abandoning their faith altogether, says a local Lutheran minister.

"People outside don't understand why we are separated and why we don't work together," said the Rev. Ingrid Dorschel, senior pastor of Edmonton's Trinity Lutheran Church.

"What happened in the past cannot be changed, but what is remembered of the past and how it is remembered can, with the passage of time, indeed change," Dorschel said at the last in a series of five Lenten dialogue sessions between Lutherans and Roman Catholics.

"This is, I think, one of the purposes we are here together: to change, grasp and understand each of our pasts in order to change and to transform what we have learned into something that is live-giving."

Dorschel hopes that sooner, rather than later, both churches will overcome the differences that have shaped their "polemical and sometimes hostile environment for a very long time."

The dialogue must continue today because "the time is right as the time was right 500 years ago when Luther and his contemporaries tried to reform the Church," she said.

"They didn't want to have another Church; they just tried to reform the Catholic Church. So the time is right to change this again."

Dorschel and local Catholic theologian Bob McKeon addressed the session March 16 at Providence Renewal Centre.

In 2017, Lutherans and Catholics will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. As well, 2017 will also mark 50 years of Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue.

Over the 50 years, members of both churches have grown in mutual understanding, cooperation and respect.

Dorschel said Lutherans and Catholics are baptized into the one Body of Christ and "Jesus is constantly praying for us to be united."

She called on members of both churches to work together to support refugees and to face the scourges of pollution, war, violence and injustice.


McKeon said the local gatherings between Lutherans and Catholics have been encouraging, supportive and certainly challenging.

"Each night I think we modeled what it looks like to go forward," McKeon pointed out.

"We have talked theology with each other, we've been faith sharing with each other and we've taken turns offering hospitality."

Lutherans and Catholic have made exceptional advances in their quest for unity. "For example, we acknowledge each other's Baptisms," noted McKeon.

"Catholics don't re-baptize Lutherans who have been baptized and vice versa. We share Baptism. We have come to a renewed understanding of the importance of Baptism in the Christian life and Christian discipleship and our role in the world."


However, in spite of the many things they share, the churches do almost everything on their own, except for the occasional meeting.

"The challenge here is how we get to know each other better, how we can find occasions to pray together and work together in all the different ways we live together in our common communities," McKeon said.

"In other words, through the dialogues we have done a lot of talk. If those are authentic, we need to walk," he said.

"Maybe what I'm thinking is that there is an ecumenism of head, heart and feet. If we only do one of those, it's not going to work."


At the meeting, participants learned that Lutherans, Catholics and others already work together on various fronts, including serving the poor.

One example is the Inner City Pastoral Ministry, a ministry of Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and United churches. Every Sunday morning, they offer worship and a meal to more than 200 inner city people, many of them homeless.