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We profess in the Nicene Creed: “…believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic church,” and in the Apostle’s Creed we profess: “…believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints.”
We feel compelled to work toward ever greater closeness in our relations and mutual ministries with other who professes the same beliefs.
“I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chloe's people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” 1 Corinthians 1:10-13
It is Christ who is the head of the church and it is Christ we turn for guidance. This is the foundation of our ongoing efforts to reach out to other members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church in bringing to reality what we profess: unity. This is a natural outgrowth of the ecumenical movement begun in the 20th century. We are listening to what Christ taught as he said, “…and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:16, “…and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.” John 11:52, “And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are.” John 17:11. Answering the call to be one as He and the Father are One, is the image of a family of believers united in faith supporting one another in the name of Christ. This leads the church to what is possible.
From a paper prepared for the Lambeth Conference 2008, the implications of ‘full communion’ or ‘inter-communion agreements,’ where church bodies may retain their autonomy and structures but undertake to adopt patterns of deeply mutual responsibility and accountability, provides an opportunity for churches to begin to live out the reality of their unity. By encouraging ongoing theological debate and the examinations of one and other’s ecclesiologies, orders, and practices, there is now the possibility for real shared life and mission. In the whole oikumene, churches in communion provide the greatest ongoing experiment in mending of the body of Christ.
The first is the recognition there is sufficient similarity in faith and order of other sacramental churches can declare people may receive communion in one another’s churches. We can use as an example the strides made in the ecumenical agreements of the Bonn Agreement signed in 1931, which is a lucid and simple model of a covenant between churches:
1. Each Communion recognizes the catholicity and independence of the other and maintains its own.
2. Each Communion agrees to admit members of the other Communion to participate in the Sacraments.
3. Full Communion does not require from either Communion the acceptance of all doctrinal opinion, sacramental devotion or liturgical practice characteristic of the other, but implies that each believes the other to hold all the essentials of the Christian faith.
This marked the establishment of communion to communion relationship and is highly significant as we think about the ways in which the various Christian families can be brought into the one koinonia into which we are called. That full communion or inter-communion paved the way for similar agreements. This is the model we have used to engage others in discussion and in bringing the church together.
The unity of the church to which we are called is a koinonia given and expressed in the common confession of the apostolic faith; a common sacramental life entered by the one baptism and celebrated together in one Eucharistic fellowship; a common life in which members and ministries are mutually recognized and reconciled; and a common mission witnessing to the gospel of God's grace to all people and serving the whole of creation. The goal of the search for full or inter communion is realized when all the churches are able to recognize in one another the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church in its fullness. This greater communion can be expressed on the local level and the universal levels to create forms of life and action. In such communion churches are bound in all aspects of life together at all levels in confessing the one faith and engaging in worship and witness, deliberation and action. (The Unity of the Church as Koinonia: Gift and Calling, Canberra, World Council of Churches 2.1)
It is our hope, new opportunities will be presented where we can develop relationships of communion, to explore how koinonia can be received, embraced and embodied more deeply, who also share valid Apostolic Succession.
If your church jurisdiction is interested in reaching out to us in friendship and seeking mutual support of our ministries, please contact us via email or phone. We welcome the opportunity to work closely together with others for the Glory of God.