Representatives of three major Christian traditions — United Methodism, Lutheranism, and Catholicism — met in Chicago on Thursday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a joint declaration on the doctrine of justification.
Bishop Mark Hanson, president of the Lutheran World Federation; Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Gregory Palmer, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, along with other clergy and church leaders, met in Chicago to celebrate the pact.
The document, signed Oct. 31, 1999, is considered of major importance because justification by faith was a key issue in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. The 1999 declaration first was signed by Lutherans and Catholics, following nearly 35 years of dialogue, with the Methodists signing in 2002.
The agreement states: “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.”