In 2020, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)  agreed to resume a bilateral dialogue, affirming the proposal of the ecumenical offices of both churches. Following a pre-dialogue consultation in 2003, both the Disciples of Christ and the ELCA affirmed plans to enter into dialogue seeking full communion. The first meeting took place  in April 2004 with an initial series of papers exploring a common understanding of communion and baptism, under the theme of “the Role, Place, and Power of the Sacraments and the Confessions in Shaping Our Identities as Church.” Subsequent rounds were delayed, however, due to staffing transitions and changes in leadership.

  • Proposal to Resume the Bilateral Dialogue between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada Read
  • News Release, May 2020


Documents from the Previous Dialogue Sessions


  • 2003 Pre-Dialogue Session Report
  • 2004 Dialogue Participants
  • Overview of the former dialogue between the ELCA and the CC(DOC) Overview


Pre-Dialogue Meeting

September 28, 2020

Following the separate affirmation of both churches to resume the bilateral dialogue, a pre-meeting was held to discuss the developments in our relationship since 2004 and the goals of resumption. Participating were Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the ELCA; General Minister and President Terri Hord Owens; Bishop Don Kreiss, chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops EIR Committee; Disciples historian Mark Toulouse; Kathryn Lohre, Executive for the Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations  & Theological Discernment; and Paul Tche, President of the Christian Unity and Interfaith Ministry. The agenda focused on building relationships, sharing the history, and exploring theological differences, including each tradition’s relationship to the ancient historical creeds and understanding of ministry.

Meeting Documents:

  • Disciples Case Study
  • ELCA Case Study

Other Resources Shared:

  • Brief Introduction to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada
  • Ecumenism: The Vision of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • United Church of Christ-Disciples of Christ Full Communion Resolution and Documents
  • A Formula of Agreement Between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Reformed Church in America, and the United Church of Christ on Entering into Full Communion on the Basis of A Common Calling

Official Report:

  • 2020 Pre-dialogue Report

2021 Dialogue Sessions

  • Dialogue Participants Participants
  • Dialogue Particpipants Biographies Bios

March 10, 2021

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the first meeting will be held via Zoom. This meeting is designed to introduce the participants to one another, study the previous meetings, and envision the dialogue together.

October 9, 2021

The first official meeting was held via Zoom. The first part of the meeting was led by Dr. Toulouse and Dr. Hughes to address these questions relative to their traditions:

  • What makes Disciples Disciples?
  • What makes ELCA Lutherans Lutherans? In theology and in practice?
  • What are the historic roots of this tradition?
  • How did the current expression(s) of this tradition come to be?
  • What are key challenges for this tradition currently and into the foreseeable future?

The second part of the meeting was planned as small group sessions. Core values and beliefs of the Disciples and ELCA were discussed.