Questions around Christian unity, based on the convergence statement The Church: Towards a Common Vision and feedback from the churches, were discussed at the Central Committee meeting of the World Council of Churches (WCC) on 24 June 2016, in Norway.
Director of Faith and Order for the WCC, Rev Dr Odair Pedroso Mateus, argued that only a shared vision of the Church can clear obstacles to Christian unity and lead to a common understanding of Christian work in the world.
Rev. Dr Susan Durber, minister in Taunton United Reformed Church and moderator of the Faith and Order Commission, summarised the importance of the document saying, ‘There is God, who has a mission for the world – to heal its brokenness and pain– and God in Christ has called forth the Church to join in with this mission of God. To be part of the mission of God, we need to be healed ourselves, our own brokenness mended, our own divisions overcome, so that we can be a sign and servant of God’s mission for the world. This is why ecclesiology matters.’
Christian unity has a very concrete purpose and contemporary relevance, said Durber, ‘The church needs to be renewed and to receive God’s gift of communion so that we can be a witness to this gift in the world. What do we think the Church is for but to serve God’s great design for the world, somehow to mirror that loving relatedness in mutual exchange of the blessed and holy Trinity, and to participate in God’s work of healing a broken world?’
Sheilagh Kesting of the Church of Scotland told the meeting that her church’s own response to the document, jointly composed with the Catholic church, suggested the need to go beyond the text itself to grow in unity. ‘It is not enough for us simply to study the text’ but also to find concrete ways of working together and to be seen publicly doing so, she said.
You can read the report of the WCC Central Committee discussing Christian unity on the WCC website.
A study guide for The Church: Towards a Common Vision is available on the CTBI website and we have also listed responses from the churches in Britain and Ireland.