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Policy committee seeks to strengthen common calling

24 February 2006

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The 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches today approved recommendations to "strengthen the WCC in the search for visible unity, enhance its ability to represent the member churches, and build new bridges for relationships and trust with other Christian churches not currently within its fellowship".

The recommendations propose that by the time of the 10th Assembly, seven years hence, the WCC should have made substantial progress towards agreement among all of the Christian churches for a common date for Easter, mutual recognition by all churches of one Baptism, and convening an ecumenical assembly that would bring together all churches to celebrate their fellowship in Jesus Christ -- "all on the way towards visible unity and a shared Eucharist".

Recommendations were part of a report from the Assembly Policy Reference Committee. They concerned building relationships with member churches, Christian world communions, the Roman Catholic and Pentecostal churches, regional ecumenical organizations and national councils of churches, other faiths, specialized ministries, and the emerging Global Christian Forum.

"Our ultimate vision is that we will achieve, by God s grace, the visible unity of Christ’s Church and will be able to welcome one another at the Lord’s table, to reconcile our ministries, and to be committed together to the reconciliation of the world. We must never lose sight of this dream, and we must take concrete steps now to make it a reality," says the text of the report.

The report urges WCC to stress the importance of the work of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC as it implemented the policies adopted by the Central Committee, grew into the consensus process of discernment for decision-making, and engaged in the reconfiguration of the ecumenical movement. It recommends that the WCC explore the implications of new forms of mission and ecumenism for the process of reconfiguration or "constructive collaboration".

By approving the report, the Assembly adopted the document Called to be the One Church as an invitation and challenge to the member churches to renew their commitment to the search for unity and to deepen their dialogue. It called upon each member church to address contentious issues in fresh ways and, in so doing, recognize areas for renewal in their own lives and new opportunities to deepen relations with those of other traditions.

The report also affirms the importance of providing possibilities for young adults to participate in meaningful decision-making roles both in the churches and in the WCC, and urges that member churches provide additional opportunities for their young adults to benefit from ecumenical formation. It recommends that the WCC's Central Committee create a representative body of young adults who would coordinate the various roles of young adults connected to the WCC and facilitate communication between them.

The full text of the "Report of the Policy Reference Committee" is available at

www.wcc-assembly.info/en/theme-issues/assembly-documents/plenary-presentations/committee-reports/policy-reference-committee.html

Assembly website:www.wcc-assembly.info

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