Faith and Order commission completes the document “The Church: Towards a Common Vision”
02 July 2012
On the island of Penang, Malaysia, late in the afternoon of 21 June, the Faith and Order Standing Commission of the World Council of Churches (WCC) accepted by consensus “The Church: Towards a Common Vision.”
Approved as a convergence text, the completion of “The Church” brings to a close an intense period of ecumenical reflection on the meaning of “Church” that began nearly 20 years ago at the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order at Santiago de Compostela, Spain in 1993.
The document reflects the growing convergence on ecclesiology achieved over three meetings of the Plenary Commission and eighteen meetings of the Standing Commission. Its notes the convergences achieved in the bilateral dialogues as well.
The document expresses the responses of the churches and theologians to two preceding texts that were staged towards a common statement: the 1998 "Nature and Purpose of the Church" and most recently the 2005 text on ecclesiology, "The Nature and Mission of the Church".
After the Commission signalled its unanimous assent to “The Church”, the members stood and sang the Taizé chant, Laudate omnes gentes. The moderator of the commission, Metropolitan Dr Vasilios of Constantia-Ammochostos, thanked God “that we have come to this important moment. This event does not happen often in Faith and Order. It happened in 1982 with "Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry". It just happened again.”
Already being referred to simply as the Penang text, “The Church: Towards a Common Vision” will be sent to the WCC Central Committee meeting in Crete in late August for reception and commendation to the churches. The document will be publicly released after the central committee meeting. It is one of the principal texts that will play a role in the 2013 Assembly of the WCC in Busan, Korea. As in the case of Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, a significant, monitored process of reception is being planned between the Faith and Order Commission and the churches on this second convergence text.
Faith and Order Commission approves new theological agreement (WCC press release of 3 July 2012)