The Lutheran Church represents the One
Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in a particular place, time and ministry. It is not a
static denomination but a movement within the western Christian tradition, praying and
working for the manifest unity of the whole church in history. Jesus Christ is the Lord of
the Church and the authority for all of the churchs actions. As he called for
oneness of his disciples, so we respond in ministry and institutional ways to manifest
In this effort, we express our unity with sister congregations and worldwide
expressions of the Church in the following ways:
The Rhinebeck Clergy Council
Meeting regularly this coalition of various and sometimes changing local congregations
and clergy sponsors joint programs and worship events, consults about community needs and
issues, and provides a place of fellowship for ministers and leaders to serve all.
Special Events during the course of the year include:
- Weekly Wednesday evening ecumenical worship during Lent (five weeks before Easter) at
announced locations, followed by fellowship for all;
- A fall program for local families: "Called to Raise Up Our Children" with an
ecumenical service of special music and presentations to rally the whole community to
support childrens programs, support for families at risk and relationships with
public schools and institutions;
- A Thanksgiving Eve Eucharist, hosted by particular congregation, involving clergy from
other churches and welcoming all for this national holiday;
- A "rogation day" event in the late spring to plant a tree, pray for healthful
and abundant harvests and recognize our common stewardship of the earth and each other.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has recently approved agreements which will
establish relationships with other Christian traditions enabling inter-communion and the
sharing of ministry which was not possible in the past 400 years. This does now or soon
will make it possible for ministers in other traditions to serve our congregation and for
our ministers to serve them.
Such agreements are being established with the Episcopal
Church, the Reformed Church in America, the Presbyterian Church, USA, and the United
Church of Christ.
Special regional services and events are being planned to celebrate these agreements,
and details are available by calling 876-4471.
Historic Agreement with the Roman Catholic Church
In October, 1999, representatives of the Lutheran churches throughout the world (with
some exceptions) and the Roman Catholic Church signed the Joint Declaration on the
Doctrine of Justification which is the first document of agreement between historic
churches of the Reformation and the Vatican, erasing century-old condemnations between the
churches and establishing a foothold in a long climb toward mutual understanding. It is a
small step, in that a basic document has now been recognized upon which a conversation can
occur on all levels (local and international). This declaration is the fruit of three
decades of study and sharing of theological documents as well as changes that occur in
every Christian communion.
A Special Relationship with the Jewish Community
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recommends a manner of sharing prayer,
social concerns, and inter-faith dialogue with the various expressions of worldwide
Judaism. A vital step in this direction was taken within the past decade when the church
expressed apologies for and basic disagreement with some writings of Martin Luther with
regard to the Jews of his day. One important event on a national scale that
marks this need for conversation and study is a forthcoming spring conference on
"Jews and Christians: People of God" dealing with a Jewish Theology of
Christianity and a Christian Theology of Judaism, at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, June
10-12, 2001. Further information is available by calling 876-4471.
Locally, the most available occasion for Jewish-Christian dialogue are events sponsored
by the Institute for Advanced Theology at Bard College (845/758-7279).