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 — July 3, 20123 juillet 2012
Participants of the WCC Faith and Order Commission meeting in Penang, Malaysia. Photo: Tamara Grdzelidze
Participants of the WCC Faith and Order Commission meeting in Penang, Malaysia. Photo: Tamara Grdzelidze

[WCC News] At a historic meeting in Malaysia, the World Council of Churches (WCC) Commission on Faith and Order approved a new theological agreement and proposed a major restructuring of its work in the future.

Under the leadership of its moderator, Metropolitan Dr Vasilios of Constantia-Ammochostos, the WCC’s Standing Commission on Faith and Order met from 17 to 22 June on the island of Penang, in Malaysia, hosted by the Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM).

The commission approved the text on “The Church: Towards a Common Vision” the second convergence document in the history of Faith and Order. The WCC director of Faith and Order, Canon John Gibaut, explains that “this ‘convergence’ text show 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 reached by the commission then will be tested among the churches.”

The document will be received in August by the WCC Central Committee for commendation to churches for study and formal responses and will be publicly available afterwards.

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 those traditions which are not normally accustomed to reading these ancient writers. The guidebook will be available from the WCC Publications later this year.

“The ecumenical value of reading the Bible together with the early teachers,” says Gibaut, “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.”

The commission also considered a draft study text on “Moral Discernment in the Churches” which challenges churches on how they engage in deeply divisive questions concerning moral issues. The aim is to assist the churches in preventing principled differences on moral questions from becoming church-dividing. The standing commission agreed to schedule a final consultation on this text by the end of 2012.

The commission approved unanimously a major revision of its bylaws which propose a thorough restructuring of the commission. The principal features of the restructuring involve the move to a single commission of 40 theologians from around the world, representing the various church traditions. This also includes: requirements for nomination to the commission which reflect its expertise-based function; the creation of an executive body within the commission; and the restoration of the commission’s capacity to appraise the results of its own work. The approved bylaws would come into effect if given final approval by the WCC Central Committee this year.

The members of the commission had the opportunities to interact with the local Christian communities in Penang, by attending Sunday worship, by joining in a banquet organized by the CCM. There the commissioners met leaders and representatives of the local churches. They also visited the local Roman Catholic and Baptist seminaries.

The commission expressed its gratitude to the general secretary of the CCM, the Rev. Dr Hermen Shastri, for the generous hospitality of the local community and for providing the context in which the commission was able to work so effectively. Dr Shastri, also a vice-moderator of the commission on Faith and Order, presided at the session in which final approval was given to “The Church”, a text which is already being called “the Penang document”.

Read also:

Faith and Order commission completes the document “The Church: Towards a Common Vision” (WCC press release of 2 July 2012)
Common parents in the faith (WCC feature article of 12 October 2009)
WCC Commission on Faith and Order
Council of Churches of Malaysia

Faith and Order commission completes the document “The Church: Towards a Common Vision

[WCC News] On the island of Penang, Malaysia, late in the afternoon of 21 June, the Faith and Order Standing Commission of the World Council of Churches (WCC) accepted by consensus “The Church: Towards a Common Vision.”

Approved as a convergence text, the completion of “The Church” brings to a close an intense period of ecumenical reflection on the meaning of “Church” that began nearly 20 years ago at the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order at Santiago de Compostela, Spain in 1993.

The document reflects the growing convergence on ecclesiology achieved over three meetings of the Plenary Commission and eighteen meetings of the Standing Commission. Its notes the convergences achieved in the bilateral dialogues as well.

The document expresses the responses of the churches and theologians to two preceding texts that were staged towards a common statement: the 1998 “Nature and Purpose of the Church” and most recently the 2005 text on ecclesiology, “The Nature and Mission of the Church”.

After the Commission signalled its unanimous assent to “The Church”, the members stood and sang the Taizé chant, Laudate omnes gentes. The moderator of the commission, Metropolitan Dr Vasilios of Constantia-Ammochostos, thanked God “that we have come to this important moment. This event does not happen often in Faith and Order. It happened in 1982 with “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry“. It just happened again.”

Already being referred to simply as the Penang text, “The Church: Towards a Common Vision” will be sent to the WCC Central Committee meeting in Crete in late August for reception and commendation to the churches. The document will be publicly released after the central committee meeting. It is one of the principal texts that will play a role in the 2013 Assembly of the WCC in Busan, Korea. As in the case of Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, a significant, monitored process of reception is being planned between the Faith and Order Commission and the churches on this second convergence text.

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.

Posted: July 3, 2012 • Permanent link: ecu.net/?p=2199
Categories: WCC NewsIn this article: church, ecclesiology, ecumenism, WCC, WCC Commission on Faith & Order
Transmis : 3 juillet 2012 • Lien permanente : ecu.net/?p=2199
Catégorie : WCC NewsDans cet article : church, ecclesiology, ecumenism, WCC, WCC Commission on Faith & Order

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