The Nature and Mission of the Church
- THE NATURE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH.
Recommendations to extend and expand a consultation process on
"The Nature and Mission of the Church" emerged from 12 small
groups reviewing the text of that title on the final day of a
7-13 October meeting of the Faith and Order Plenary Commission at
the Orthodox Academy of Crete in Kolympari, Greece. The groups'
proposals will be forwarded to the smaller Faith and Order
Standing Commission and to officials of the World Council of
Churches (WCC), which the Plenary Commission serves as an
The Nature and Mission of the Church, a 40-page book, was issued
in December 2005 and commended to Christian churches by the WCC's
Ninth Assembly at Porto Alegre, Brazil in February 2006.
Churches, church-related institutions and interested individuals
were requested to submit responses to the text by January 2010.
The document attempts to achieve ecumenical agreement on world
Christianity's understanding of "ecclesiology" – the doctrine of
the church, its nature and mission – and to identify those
church-related matters that continue to divide Christians. As of
late September 2009 nearly fifty responses had been received by
Faith and Order, but only eighteen of them were official
communications from churches.
In addition to the written responses, participants in the plenary
considered a series of presentations on the text and on the
commission meeting's theme, "Called to Be the One Church".
Presenters came from a wide range of geographical regions and
traditions of Christianity, and a recurring criticism in their
analysis of the text was a failure to take fully into
consideration the broad diversity of the world's churches and
their differing contexts.
In one of the speeches, Metropolitan Geevarghese Mar Coorilos of
India, a bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch
and all the East, expressed gratitude for the Faith and Order
text's "philosophical imagination", typical of "classical models
of dialogue". He suggested that this western, academic approach
to ecclesiology now "needs to be complemented with sociological
and poetic imaginations where the text (the Word) takes on flesh
and enters the realm of the pain and pathos that the poor and
their earth endure". Using as an example the full involvement of
members of the disadvantaged Dalit caste in the life of the
Indian church, he called for "a dialogue from below" to
complement traditional encounters "at esoteric and intellectual
levels". He characterized this more contextual form of dialogue
as "a process of challenging religious traditions, including
one’s own, on questions of injustice".
To read more: http://www.wfn.org/2009/10/msg00071.html
More on the Faith and Order meeting:
Presentations and documents:
Photo gallery (high resolution pictures available free of