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 — July 11, 201311 juillet 2013
 

The General Secretary of the United Church of Canada, Nora Sanders, has issued a message to the church’s General Council to announce that the General Synod of the United Church of Christ (USA) has accepted the United Church of Canada as an ecumenical partner. The announcement, issued 11 July, follows.

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I am pleased to let you know that the General Synod of the United Church of Christ (USA) voted overwhelmingly on July 1 to recognize The United Church of Canada as an ecumenical partner, an important step as our two denominations seek to deepen our relationship. The General Synod also approved the formation of a committee, with equal representation from both denominations, to recommend further steps toward full communion.

These steps follow a May 2013 decision of the Executive of the General Council of The United Church of Canada to authorize the General Secretary to enter full communion conversations with the United Church of Christ and other denominations that so desire, and appoint United Church of Canada representatives to joint committees that are needed to work toward full communion agreements. Conversations toward full communion offer participating denominations the possibility of fuller engagement with each other in many aspects of mission and ministry, including mutual recognition and exchange of ministers.

Read the United Church of Christ resolution below.

For additional information, please see the United Church of Christ website.

I will provide updates as our church continues this exciting dialogue with the United Church of Christ.

Blessings,
Nora Sanders
General Secretary, General Council

A Resolution on Ecumenical Relationship between
the United Church of Christ and the United Church of Canada

A Prudential Resolution
Submitted by the Executive Council

SUMMARY

This resolution recognizes the new ecumenical relationship between the United Church of Christ and the United Church of Canada and creates a committee that will explore the direction and plan to move this relationship toward a deeper commitment that reflects visible unity in the life of the church.

BIBLICAL, THEOLOGICAL and ETHICAL RATIONALE

In his last prayer with his disciples, Jesus prayed, “that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21, NRSV). The desire for unity and visible unity has been at the heart and commitment of the ecumenical movement.

The United Church of Canada and the United Church of Christ affirm this biblical understanding of unity which continues to guide the ecumenical commitment and engagement with other churches. The churches continue to seek meaningful ways to attend to the call in the gospel and to overcome the separations that stand in the way of the unity of the church that Jesus prayed for. As Christians there is an imperative to find ways to live in unity and to create visible unity for the life of the Church. The call is the essence of the ecumenical movement which seeks to find unity-in-diversity, creating the space to engage divergences and convergences through on-going dialogue and engagement.

BACKGROUND

The United Church of Canada is the largest Protestant denomination in Canada, minister ing to close to 3 million people in over 3,500 congregations across the country. The United Church was inaugurated on June 10, 1925 in Toronto, Ontario, when the Methodist Church, Canada, the Congregational Union of Canada, and 70 per cent of the Presbyterian Church of Canada entered into an organic union. Joining as well was the small General Council of Union Churches, centered largely in Western Canada.

The forming of the United Church of Canada was the first union of churches in the world to cross historical denominational lines and hence received international acclaim. Impetus for the union arose out of the concerns for serving the vast Canadian northwest and in the desire for better overseas mission. Each of the uniting churches, however, had a long history prior to 1925. [1]

The United Church of Christ and the United Church of Canada initiated formal dialogue in April 2012. During the historical visit by the United Church of Christ to the United Church of Canada offices in Toronto, there was exploratory conversation to move the churches in the direction of getting to know each other better. This beginning conversation pointed to the need to have further conversation. At that time, no concrete decisions were made about the possibilities of relationship or formal ecumenical engagement.

While there was acknowledgement of similar history and interests, the mutual knowledge that clergy were crossing the northern border to serve across these denominational lines, and the common heritage of being “united and uniting” churches the opportunity to meet for dialogue and to nurture this unique relationship was not previously explored. The implications of these commonalities and shared life together paved the way for the second meeting to look further at issues of history and polity as well as areas in which the two communions were already working together.

The United Church of Canada is geographically the closest united and uniting church to the United Church of Christ. With similar history and common historical strands as well as a commitment to justice the two denominations easily identified common tables at which they sit, even though there has never been the occasion for gathering to talk about ways in which both UCCs can work together.

Coming out of the meeting in April 2012, there was a commitment to continue the process of learning about each other, and a second meeting was scheduled to explore future direction for the dialogue. The second conversation occurred in April 2013 with representatives from the United Church of Canada visiting the Church House in Cleveland. There was the occasion to map the places where the United Church of Canada and the United Church of Christ sat together at ecumenical tables and to examine places where staff was working together.

This second meeting pointed the way to a mutual commitment to explore ways in which the ecumenical commitment to visible unity could be strengthen and lived out in the context of a shared border, shared history, shared clergy and shared resolve to live out the commitment to being followers of Christ.

The primary outcome of the April 2013 meeting was to provide a mechanism for moving beyond dialogue to explore ecumenical relationship together.

TEXT OF MOTION

WHEREAS, the gospel of Jesus Christ unites the followers of Christ in a single community of faith and compels us to make our unity visible so “that the world may believe…” John 17:21;

WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ and the United Church of Canada are united and uniting churches with multiple denominational streams which identify them and shape their Christian self-understanding;

WHEREAS, the United Church of Canada and the United Church of Christ have common commitment to the visible unity of the church of Jesus Christ and to the one ecumenical movement;

WHEREAS, the United Church of Canada and the United Church of Christ have common Congregational and Reformed heritage and sit in common witness to mission, worship, theological conversation and commitment to justice;

WHEREAS, the United Church of Christ and the United Church of Canada have engaged in dialogue and have identified similarities and differences that can commonly strengthen who they are and their witness in North America as united and united churches;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the twenty-ninth General Synod United Church of Christ recognize the United Church of Canada as an ecumenical partner;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the United Church of Canada and the United Church of Christ mutually commit to forming the United Church Ecumenical Partnership Committee, an ecumenical partnership committee of ten (10) persons – five from each communion;

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the United Church Ecumenical Partnership Committee brings back to the thirtieth General Synod recommendations for further steps and activities to bring the two communions toward full communion and visible unity.

FUNDING

Funding for the implementation of the resolution will be made in accordance with the overall mandates of the affected agencies and the funds available.

IMPLEMENTATION

The Collegium of Officers, in consultation with appropriate ministries or other entities within the United Church of Christ, will determine the implementing body.

[1] United Church of Canada website

Posted: July 11, 2013 • Permanent link: ecu.net/?p=6487
Categories: NewsIn this article: Canada, Christian unity, ecumenism, full communion, united & uniting churches, United Church of Canada, United Church of Christ, USA
Transmis : 11 juillet 2013 • Lien permanente : ecu.net/?p=6487
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : Canada, Christian unity, ecumenism, full communion, united & uniting churches, United Church of Canada, United Church of Christ, USA


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