Faith and Order Plenary Ends with Message of Hope

The most comprehensive theological forum in Christendom closes with calls for 'mutual recognition' of theological and ecclesiological differences
( [email protected] ) Aug 09, 2004 12:03 PM EDT

The most comprehensive theological forum in Christendom ended on August 6 after two weeks of deliberations among some 100 scholars, theologians and leaders of the Christian faith worldwide. Delegates to the World Council of Churches (WCC) Faith and Order plenary commission adopted five ‘studies’ and ‘messages’ to the churches in promoting ecumenism and unity, and penned a final document relaying a hope for greater dialouge and understanding between Christian groups.

The final statement read, “There are still many questions we need to explore together, but we became aware of reaching a moment of hope, having identified a framework which might enable churches to move forward in terms of mutual recognition.”

At that end, the last ecclesiological study, which was completed on August 5 and entitled “The Nature and Mission of the Church” related the broken bodies within the Christian Church to the brokenness of humanity in general.

“The divisions within and among our churches reflect not only theological and ecclesiological differences, but also strife within the human community,” the study stated.

The study also followed the 2-weeklong Plenary theme, “Receive one another, as Christ received you, for the glory of God:”

The goal of Faith and Order is “to reflect on our common obligation to welcome one another, to look beyond our divisions and to work together for the visible unity of the church".

The other studies conducted by the delegates included an in-depth look at baptism as “a primary basis of ecumenism,” the rule of churches in situations of ethnic and national conflict, the Christian understanding of the human person in the image of God and ecumenical hermeneutics.

"The texts produced by Faith and Order carry a particular credibility and weight. As commission members, we call on our churches to continue to support the work of Faith and Order, and to assist us in circulating and responding to studies and projects,” the final statement also stated.

The Geneva-based WCC’s 342 member churches come mainly from Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member but has official representatives on the Faith and Order Commission and in some countries it belongs to national church groupings that are linked to the World Council. The Faith and Order plenary began on July 28 at Kuala Lumpar, Bangladesh.

For the full text of the final study and message of the Faith and Order plenary, please visit: