At its June meeting in Penang, Malaysia, the WCC’s Commission on Faith and Order approved its second convergence document, “The Church: Towards a Common Vision.” Photo: WCC
The Commission on Faith and Order of the Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC) has approved a new ecumenical theological agreement.
At a historic June meeting in Penang, Malaysia, the commission gave the nod to its second convergence document, “The Church: Towards a Common Vision.”
According to the WCC’s director of faith and order, Canon John Gibaut, “this ‘convergence” text shows how closely the members of the commission are able to come together to agree on what it means to be the one Church of Jesus Christ.
The agreement brings to a close an intense period of ecumenical reflection on the meaning of church that began in 1993 at the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order at Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
The document reflects the growing convergence on ecclesiology achieved over three meetings of the WCC’s Plenary Commission and 18 meetings of the Standing Commission. As well, it notes the convergences achieved in the bilateral dialogues.
In August, the WCC’s Central Committee will formally receive the approved text and circulate it for further study by its 349 member churches. Members’ responses will be made public at a later date.
Almost 20 years in the making, the new vision involved at least five Canadian Anglicans in the crafting of its text. These include Canon John Gibaut, Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Ms. Natasha Klukach, The Rev. Dr. Eileen Scully and Archdeacon Bruce Myers.
The commission also approved the creation of a guidebook to encourage Christians to read the scriptures together ecumenically, using biblical commentaries by the teachers of the early church. The guidebook, designed for all Christians, is intended to introduce these teachers to members of church traditions not normally accustomed to reading these ancient writers. The guidebook will be available from WCC Publications later this year.
“The ecumenical value of reading the Bible together with the early teachers is that they are our common parents in the faith, and despite their vast differences from one another, they are witnesses to the unity-in-diversity of the undivided church,” said Gibaut.
Faith and Order meetings are characterized by the strong commitment of its 120 lay and clerical members to their own traditions, together with a deep dedication to the vision and implementation of the unity of the church worldwide.