WCC Faith and Order Commission proposes world conference, maps common ground among churches

WCC Faith and Order study group meeting in Bossey, Switzerland, January 2020, Photo: WCC

The World Council of Churches (WCC) Faith and Order Commission, through its three study groups, is proposing a world conference as it continues to map common ground among churches worldwide.

The work of the commission is carried on through three study groups focusing on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, ecclesiology, and moral discernment. All three study groups recently met at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute.

The first study group is following up on the commission’s proposal to hold a Sixth World Conference on Faith and Order in 2025, a year that will mark the 1700th anniversary of the first Ecumenical Council at Nicea. While much has changed since that historic council, the study group acknowledged that its issues are linked to present concerns: how we confess the apostolic faith in our time, and the vision of the one church as a conciliar fellowship.

The group envisions the conference as a way to engage the many issues that challenge and excite the churches today, with the goal of rekindling the desire to search for visible unity of the church in the midst of deep diversity and changing contexts.

The second study group has analyzed 75 responses to the text “The Church: Towards a Common Vision,” identifying 16 key theological themes that appear in the responses. The group is preparing papers on each of them, identifying points for further work by the full commission. These papers will be shared at the WCC 11th Assembly, to be held in 2021 in Karlsruhe, Germany.

The third study group, which concentrates on moral discernment, acknowledged that churches respond differently to ethical questions, risking either divisions within themselves or preventing them from witnessing with one voice. The study group explored and affirmed the common ground that churches from different traditions hold in relation to engaging in ethical reasoning.

Rev. Dr Susan Durber, moderator of the Faith and Order Commission, said: “It was surely the work of the Holy Spirit that brought three study groups of the Faith and Order Commission to Bossey at almost the same time! We worked on our different tasks but also had some fruitful interaction. Praise be to God for such fruitful days while we are still rejoicing in Christmas, Epiphany and the baptism of Christ!”

WCC, oikoumene.org